Ah yes, December is here! Christmas is near…. and Thanksgiving is no more. Speaking of Thanksgiving, after 3 months of lame excuses as to why I shouldn’t go to the local movie theater (the major excuse being the fucking lack of GREAT MOVIES in theaters in the first place), I returned to my second home – the local movie theater. Being Thanksgiving weekend, I had to pick one of the following films to spend my hard-earned money on: “The Muppets”, “Immortals”, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1” (shudders) and “Jack and Jill” (heavens to Betsy!) Take a wild guess what I saw….. : D
“The Muppets” marks the return of the most popular and well-known group of puppet characters to the big screen. They were created by the late, great Jim Henson in 1954. They made their television debut in “Sam and Friends”, and it was this series that unleashed the pop culture ICON that is Kermit. Interestingly enough, Kermit began as a lizard-like muppet which evolved into Kermit the Frog. When the show ended in 1961, Kermit disappeared from the limelight. Rumour has it that he went back to his Florida swamp home, cheated on and split with his wife of 8 years, and owed the IRS $4,000,000 in back taxes. Long story short, he was a broke motherfucker!
But it was in 1969 that he returned to television with the iconic children’s show “Sesame Street”. With the help of a drug-addicted Cookie Monster, closeted homosexuals Ernie and Bert, a retarded-ass Big Bird and an ORANGE Oscar the Grouch (I shit you not!), he became an overnight celebrity. In 1976, he branched out into prime-time. The result was the AWESOME musical comedy series “The Muppet Show”. New Muppets with multiple talents and unique personalities were introduced to the world such as the daredevil Gonzo the Great, the stand-up comedian Fozzy Bear, and of course Kermit’s eventual love interest Miss Piggy.
They made their first appearance on the big screen with the classic film “The Muppet Movie”. From then until now, they starred in 7 films, released music albums and even had their own cartoon series – “Muppet Babies” (REMEMBER THAT SHIT?!) Things were going great until the release of the TV movie “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz”. Honestly, from what I remember, the movie didn’t suck – even though it starred Ashanti (remember her?) as Dorothy. What I remember clearly was the appearance of Quentin Tarantino (I shit you not!). The point is, the Muppet group disappeared for some weird reason. Long-time Muppet fans cringed in agony when they saw “Sesame Street” reduced to unappealing filler, followed by “Elmo’s World”, a segment dedicated to the world’s most ANNOYING Muppet!
Which brings us to “The Muppets”, the latest film from Walt Disney Studios. When I first saw the trailer for this film, my first thought was: “It’s about fucking time!”. This new decade needed another Muppet movie. The trick, of course, is to make it appeal to both die-hard fans of the original Muppet movies and TV series, and a new, younger audience whose idea of a great children’s show involves a talking sponge. Did it succeed? Let’s see….
Walter, a puppet (not to be confused with ‘muppet’. Yes, I know it sounds dumb, but when you see the film, you’ll understand), is a longtime fan of the Muppets, ever since “The Muppet Show” came on the air. His brother is a human named Gary who has a girlfriend with really cute eyes named Mary. Gary plans to spend a vacation in L.A. with Mary to celebrate their 10th anniversary of being boyfriend and girlfriend (only in the movies, people! Let’s get a move on!). Anyhoo, Walter sees this trip as an opportunity for him to go to the Muppet Theater, where “The Muppet Show” was shot. When they arrive, it’s a run-down tourist attraction. And to make matters worse, the theater is about to be sold to Tex Richman (BEST NAME EVER!), an oil magnate who wants to get the oil that is apparently underneath the theater. The only way to save the theater is if 10 million dollars can be raised in order to purchase the theater back. Walter comes up with an idea – find the Muppets and get them together to stage a reunion concert/telethon. One by one, the Muppets reunite, and the energy that they shared onstage, and the friendship that they shared with each other, returns. But the clock is ticking. They have one shot to raise the money. Will they succeed, or will they become a distant memory?
Walter – Peter Linz
Gary – Jason Segel (star of everyone’s favourite sitcom – ‘How I met your Mother’)
Mary – Amy Adams (I swear to God, she really has cute eyes!)
Tex Richman – Chris Cooper (scene-stealer)
Kermit the Frog – a frog
Miss Piggy – a pig
Fozzy Bear – a bear
Animal – an ANIMAL!!!!
Gonzo the Great – a…..I don’t know what the fuck he is.
MY THOUGHTS: What makes this film work is not the fact that they’re technically resurrecting an old franchise (which Hollywood has been obsessed with for the past few years), but that they poke fun at the silliness of it all. From the hilarious Broadway-parody musical numbers (yes, “The Muppets” is a musical comedy, folks) to characters breaking the 4th wall, the material in “The Muppets” is intentionally and cleverly not taken seriously. I mean, it’s a film about Muppets, for chrissake. But don’t think that this film isn’t good.
The story is surprisingly engaging and well-thought-of, which is what’s expected in a family film. The characters, both human and muppet, are appealing. And speaking of muppets, their personalities are still there. Kermit’s self-doubt to re-affirmation phases, Miss Piggy’s independence, Fozzy’s bad jokes, Gonzo’s fetish for chickens….it’s all there. As I mentioned above, Chris Cooper is a scene-stealer. His performance as Tex Richman is both intentionally cliched and downright hilarious. He even has a brief musical number that had ME in stitches! Speaking of musical numbers, the performances by both human and muppet are superb. It evokes a sense of nostalgia for the original Muppet films, and musicals as a whole. And the film’s underlying theme of discovering one’s talent is both endearing and touching. Long story short, this was a fun, highly entertaining and ultimately enjoyable film. My expectations were high when I went to see it, and I must say, it DID NOT DISAPPOINT!
SHOULD I SEE THIS FILM? HELL YES! Unless singing puppets that make random references to pop culture isn’t your thing, then you should DEFINITELY see this film. Bring your friends. Bring your family. Bring your children who have no clue who Kermit is, but know the hand seals from “Naruto” by heart! Bring your grandmother who probably watched “Sam and Friends” back in the 50s, but isn’t aware that clips of the show can be found on YouTube. Come to think of it, she probably doesn’t even know what YouTube is. But anyways, this film is well worth your time and money. This may very well be one of the best movies I’ve seen for 2011. Yes, it’s THAT GOOD.
Speaking of which, I plan to post a list by the end of 2011 focusing on the top 10 best, and worst, films I’ve seen for this year. I’ll try my best to see the films that I’ve missed out on, good and bad. I mightn’t be able to post all the reviews for the films on the list before New Year’s, but I’ll try my best. Wish me luck.
MY RATING – 4 out of 5 stars (See this movie”)