After Muppets from Space, the Muppets seemed to be doomed to live on in reruns, direct to video Limbo, and the occasional Sunday afternoon airing of Muppets Take Manhattan on ABC Family. The Disney Channel unsuccessfully tried to reintroduce the Muppets to kiddies with a short lived sporadic show with today’s latest tween stars, but it just did not take. Luckily, the stars and planets aligned and writing team Jason Segal and Nick Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) started pitching a new Muppet movie to Disney executives. What resulted was 2011’s The Muppets. One could argue the plot was recycled from multiple Muppet movies and productions. The evil villain is changed as are the reasons behind saving the Muppet Theater and reuniting the Muppet troupe, but we have seen it. That being said, somehow, The Muppets manage to pull it off each time. In this movie, the Muppets have long since fallen out of the public eye and have disbanded. Still, at least one die-hard fan, Walter (Peter Linz), remains. When his brother, Gary (Jason Segel), plans to take his girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams), on a trip to Los Angeles, they invite Walter who cannot wait to take a tour of the Muppet Studios. Sadly, he finds it covered in cobwebs and disrepair. Walter cannot help but sneak into Kermit’s former office where he overhears an evil oil tycoon, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), spilling his plan to take ownership of Muppet Studios, which happens to be sitting on top of soil that is rich in oil. Richman dug up the old “Standard Rich and Famous Contract,” that the Muppets signed way back in the The Muppet Movie and discovered that the rights to the studio, the Muppet name, and its characters were expiring. Luckily, through a little Hollywood magic, Walter is able to get in touch with Kermit, convincing him to try to get the gang back together to raise enough money to save the Muppet Theater and Studios. How? By hosting The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever! Not only did Kermit have to talk his former pals to reunite, but he had to sell the Muppets to a world that had grown bitter and changed. Perhaps the movie mirrored real life problems Segal and Stoller met when they were pitching this movie to Disney? Anyway, in a subplot, Walter (a new Muppet character performed by Peter Linz) does not have a life of his own. His existence is filled with the Muppets and he is a third wheel to Gary and Mary. He hasn’t found his place in the world, but he befriends Kermit and finds his new home among the Muppets. The movie itself managed to embody everything great about the Muppets. The cameos have returned! The humor had returned! The music and magic were back! It was a tasteful celebration of the Muppets and their legacy. It brought back a lot of Muppet memories in a classy way. It didn’t exploit the franchise at all, while a lot of Muppet research was done to incorporate the history and make allusions to other Muppet works. Everything was cleverly woven into the story and background. The Muppets was almost everything that I, as a Muppet fan, wanted to see. Rowlf was back! He was featured in a much larger speaking role! In fact, many of the Muppet characters that had been missing since the 80s had returned: Link Hogthrob and Dr. Strangepork, along with Beauregard, The Muppet Newsman, Lips, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Mahna Mahna, Uncle Deadly, Marvin Suggs and his Muppaphones. Everyone was included. It was wonderful to see The Electric Mayhem Band sporting their purple tuxedoes with Nigel directing them! An added treat was Jim Henson’s previous performances effortlessly slipped into flashbacks and voiceovers, making it the first time Henson had been included in a Muppet movie since Muppets Take Manhattan. Although it was delightful to see how many long lost Muppet characters were included in the film, there were several noticeable (and regretful) Muppet-ty omissions. This marks the first movie in which Frank Oz had no involvement. He not only didn’t return as a puppeteer, but he also handed over the voice work to Eric Jacobson, who has helped return Miss Piggy to the glory she enjoyed at the height of her popularity. Due to failing health, longtime Muppet performer Jerry Nelson was not able to puppeteer or voice his characters, however, he does provided his familiar voice as an announcer. Very few of the characters from Muppets Tonight appear. Pepe makes a brief, but funny, appearance. Bobo Bear fulfills almost the same role as in Muppets from Space as he is Richman’s right hand man, er, bear. In a startling turn, Rizzo the Rat has been reduced to a background character instead of being at the forefront as he had been for the last few Muppet movies. The cameos are pretty great. Some of them will be fairly dated in ten years, but there was a nice mix of bigger, established names such as Jack Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Mickey Rooney, Judd Hirsch, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, Dave Grohl, Zach Galifianakis, and Alan Arkin to balance out Jim Parsons, Rashida Jones, Ken Jeong, Selena Gomez, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, and Rico Rodriguez. This movie returned to the genre of musical comedy, but, musically, did a few things other Muppet movies did not. First of all, this movie won the Muppets their first Academy Award for Bret McKenzie’s (The Mighty Conchords) “Man or Muppet.” Secondly, the movie includes a mixture of new, original music (“Life’s a Happy Song,” “Man or Muppet”), older Muppet hits from previous movies (“The Muppet Show Theme,” “Mahna Mahna,” & “Rainbow Connection“), and classic rock songs (“Cars,” “We Built This City,” & “Smells Like Teen Spirit”). This movie comes fairly close to perfection, in my opinion. Sadly, some more potty humor spilled in. Fozzie is seen sporting fart shoes. Steve Whitmire actually threatened to leave the movie due to this joke. I am not sure why it made the cut. It just did not match the rest of the humor in the movie. The rest of the jokes are reminiscent of classic Muppet humor such as slapstick and breaking down the fourth wall. Jason Segal also broke one of the cardinal rules of acting with Muppets. There are several scenes in which his focal point is with the tip of the puppet’s head instead of its eyes. This seriously irks me and is probably a nitpick, but it is a detail, either justified by the actor or the director, that would have not happened if Henson or Oz were involved in the movie. That being said, this movie acts as a great way to introduce the Muppets to today’s audience and provide a nostalgic reminder to those 30-40-somethings out there who grew up with the Muppets. I must say, when this movie was released, I was nervous. After the last Muppet movie, I was afraid of what was going to happen to my beloved friends, the Muppet characters that had entertained me for my entire lifetime. This movie served as a fitting tribute to the Muppets. It restored my faith in the slipping franchise. I give it 5 out of 5 rubber chickens without any hesitation! See larger image The Muppets (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) New From: $3.28 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.