With all the big, Oscar-bait movies coming out in the fall, what is the one movie I wanted to see most of all this week? If you’ve read the title of this piece, you already know. I think it’s in no small part to a very clever campaign of faux trailers online – Green with Envy is still my favorite – that kept up the interest and bringing the Muppets back in the limelight.
The movie is about two big Muppet fans, Walter, and his brother Gary (Jason Segal). They and Gary’s long-time girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) take a trip to Los Angeles and discover, though, that lots of people HAVE forgotten Kermit the Frog and his cohorts. Worse, there is an unfortunate contractual provision that will make things worse.
I didn’t see most of the movies, but I was a huge fan of The Muppet Show TV program. This entry, which we saw at the local Madison Theatre at a not-that-crowded Saturday matinee, seemed like a logical extension of where the various Muppets have been over the years. I sought out the three critics (out of 125) who panned the film. One said, “Except for a few good zingers from balcony dwellers Statler and Waldorf, there isn’t much here for mom and dad.” Oddly, I had just the opposite sense; I went with the wife and daughter, and I’m convinced that the adults enjoyed it more than the daughter did. And SHE said she wanted to watch it again.
Another: “The Muppets has none of the easy confidence of the original TV show or the 1979 movie.” Well, yes, and that is precisely the whole point. And finally, “The Muppet charm, always more at home within the intimate frame of a TV set, is gone here.” A paean to nostalgia by someone who just didn’t get it. This is a film where classic 21st-century copyright infringement plays a pivotal role.
I loved this movie. My wife and I laughed out loud, even when the daughter didn’t. The guest performers – Mickey Rooney? – were well used. Segal was very good as both writer and actor. Ever since I saw her in Enchanted, I knew Amy Adams would be great. Chris Cooper, unsurprisingly, is a great villain. My favorite moment in the movie involved two instruments and two/four people. Yet there is a bit of melancholy as well, as happens sometimes when old friends try to rekindle the past.
I’d give it a 3.8 out of 4.
Oh, on the way home, a total stranger and I were torturing my daughter by singing a song from the end credits, which is one of the Muppets’ 20 best musical moments, complete with video.
Lest I forget, a quite decent Toy Story short, Small Fry, precedes the movie. Is that how therapy works?