Toon Talk: The Muppets
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Of Muppets and Men
The past twelve years haven’t been kind to the fluffy, felty band of misfit marionettes known collectively as the Muppets. In the dozen or so years since their last big screen outing (the underrated Muppets from Space), they have been relegated to fast food commercials and shoddy made-for-TV movies (Muppetphiles were hard-pressed to decide which was worse, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie or The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz).
All that can now be forgotten (if not quite forgiven) with this past weekend’s release of their new hit movie, simply titled The Muppets. And while it doesn’t reach the Muppetational greatness of The Muppet Movie or The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets does serve as an entertaining reintroduction of Kermit and Company to today’s audiences.
The Muppets were “meta” long before that term came into vogue, so it’s no surprise that the new film’s set up finds the gang on hard times just as they have been in the “real world” since the end of the 20th century... and it’s not easy being green in the new millennium. For example, Kermit the Frog (performed by Steve Whitmire) is holed up in an old Hollywood mansion like an amphibian Norma Desmond, while Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson) is a reclusive Parisian fashionista and poor Fozzie Bear (also Jacobson) is stuck performing in Reno with a Muppet “tribute band”.
Unbeknownst to them, their legendary Muppet Studios is about to be demolished by unscrupulous oil baron Tex Richman (a game and goofy Chris Cooper). Rallied together to save their legacy by a trio of fans from Smalltown, USA named Gary (Jason Segel, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film), Mary (Amy Adams) and Walter, Gary’s Muppet-ized brother (voiced by Peter Linz), all the Muppets reunite to put on one last show, perhaps their most important show of all.
Buoyed along by sprightly tunes both old (the classic “The Rainbow Connection” and the iconic “The Muppet Show Theme”) and new (strong Best Song Oscar contenders “Life’s a Happy Song” and “Man or Muppet”), The Muppets is a lively romp that freely mines our memories of Muppet shows past. There are surprises aplenty, including several celebrity cameos and a most unexpected rap number.
However, I could have done without the persistent air of modern cynicism, unfortunately common in Muppet projects of late. It dampens the joy and magic that was created by Jim Henson more than fifty years ago. One hopes that any future Muppet endeavors will wash off that contemporary grit and let the timeless charms of the Muppets truly shine through.
Toon Talk Rating: B
-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics
Kirby is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ... In addition to his Toon Talk reviews, Kirby is the creator of Movie Dearest, a blog for movie fans.
Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt is posted whenever there's something new to review.
The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.
-- Posted December 2, 2011