Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pleasant Time Travel

Three Stars

The film opens with the musical number, “I’ve got everything that I need!” and basically that’s the spirit of this film. When you’re a kid with a bowl of pop-corn, and the Muppet Show on your TV set, you do have everything you need. The cast and crew obviously love ‘The Muppets’, and the three main characters are absolutely giddy throughout the movie whenever they get a chance to talk to Kermit and the gang. It’s a childhood dream come true, obviously.

‘The Muppets’ isn’t really much of a reboot. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s quite the opposite. It’s actually a clever way for the older people in the audience to be nostalgic. Thus, it’s a little bit of a baffling film in some ways because the intent had to be re-introducing the Muppets to a new audience instead of simply funding co-star and co-writer Jason Sigel’s childhood dream. Right away it dives right into nostalgia. The movie is really self aware, which once again, isn’t a bad thing. We are introduced to Walter (Jason Sigel) and his brother, Gary. I wasn’t sure if they meant brother as in best friend since childhood or actual brother. Gary is a Muppet and Walter is a human, but I guess I’m being an old scrooge. Sometimes I just have to put away the film critic hat and put on the movie lover hat. I mean, this film is about the Muppets. Not some serious art house piece. Gary and Walter are big fans of the Muppets. It just happens that it’s the 10th anniversary of Gary and his girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams). So, along with Gary, they go to Los Angeles for a big trip after a song and dance number, of course. They go to the Muppets studio when they arrive, only to find it broken down and abandoned. Gary sneaks into Kermit The Frog’s old office and hears an evil plan to tear down the studio because there’s oil under the studio. The evil millionaire is played by Chris Cooper.

So, they go see Kermit The Frog, who tells them that he hasn’t seen the old gang in years. Kermit decides it’s worth a shot to get them back together. Everyone jumps on board except Miss. Piggy, who has an unexpected adult scene where she and Kermit talk alone. Kermit regrets some of the things he said to Miss. Piggy last time they were together.

The movie mostly works. It’s a pleasure to see Kermit and the old gang again. So, the Muppets try to put on a show to rescue the old studio. They are turned down by every network, all of them saying the Muppets are not-popular anymore. Once again, the kids in the audience do not know who the Muppets are, and that’s kind of the premise of the film. They even throw in the robot from the 80s science fiction fantasy movies, Short Circuit. He’s now Kermit’s butler. He serves New Coke and Tab. Once again, some of the jokes are really over the kids head. They even reference a Charlie Chaplin movie in one of their dance numbers.

That being said, it’s not a bad movie to take your kids to. It has a nice message about family and staying in touch. The Muppets are still charming all these years later. I remember when I was a kid, watching all the Muppet movies on VHS, watching the Muppet Show on TV, and watching Muppet Babies as well. It’s nice to see old friends again. Kermit and friends still charm. Gary, Walter and Mary still believe there’s a place for the type of entertainment the Muppets deliver. The Muppets struggle in this film to put on a show and save their name and theater. That being said, they all do pull together. There are some really funny cameos. A lot of cameos, including a song “Am I a Man or A Muppet?” where the Gary looks in the mirror and its Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory.

It’s nice however, it gets a little too heavy on this stuff, to have nostalgia for the older people in the audience. All the kids these days get to have their fun with being nostalgic over stuff like Harry Potter. While introducing the Muppets to today’s kids, the movie also reunites, in a way, the older people in the audience to their nostalgia. Yeah, the movie tries a bit too hard sometimes, but it’s got a good heart and a lot of innocence and that’s all that should matter in a movie starring an old frog and pig.

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