Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tonight's Movie: The Muppets (2011)

This was a rare afternoon when everyone in our family had an open schedule and there were two brand-new movies we all wanted to see. We followed seeing the delightful ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011) with THE MUPPETS, a well-done and entertaining family film.

It took me a little longer to buy into the premise of THE MUPPETS, insofar as Gary (Jason Segel) is brother to...a Muppet, Walter (Peter Linz). (Well, Walter's not an official member of the Muppets, but he's a puppet!) That notion caught me a little off guard, but the sweetness of the characters soon warmed me up.

Gary and his girlfriend Mary (the always-delightful Amy Adams) decide to take Walter along on a trip to Hollywood so he can tour the studio where his idols, the Muppets, once filmed their show. Upon arrival they discover not much is left of the studio, and an oil tycoon (Chris Cooper) who claims he wants to build a Muppet museum on the property really wants to raze it and drill for oil.

Walter finds Kermit (Steve Whitmire) and convinces him to round up the ol' Muppet gang and hold a telethon so they can hang on to the property, and craziness ensues. Somehow the Muppets, who haven't performed together in years, pull together a program in a matter of hours. In the end, the film is a Muppet reunion melded with the classic "Let's put on a show!" theme of countless movies.

While this film didn't completely wow me like ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, there's plenty I enjoyed: a nice sense of humor (especially the moments where the characters break "the fourth wall"), a couple good production numbers, and sweet nostalgia. Any viewer of a certain age probably had a tear in the eye when Kermit launched into "The Rainbow Connection." I know I did.

The first production number, "Life's a Happy Song," takes place on the Warner Bros. backlot and provides a great visual tour of the street sets which are also known as River City from THE MUSIC MAN and Stars Hollow in GILMORE GIRLS. The final production number, which reprises the same song and is my favorite scene in the movie, is a street dance at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood. Composer Bret McKenzie can be seen singing the catchy, upbeat tune with Kermit on a video.

The Los Angeles location shots are among the film's strengths, as the characters visit the El Capitan Theatre (doubling as the Muppets' theatre), Angels Flight, and Pink's Hot Dogs. The movie is very attractive visually, with a clean, crisp look and lots of bright, bold colors. I was glad I watched it on a big screen, as I think some of the movie's nice look might be lost on a smaller screen.

Amy Adams conveys a certain innocence which makes her perfect to believably costar with a horde of Muppets, and she's also got a great singing voice for the musical numbers. (In fact, I would have liked it if she'd had the chance to sing more often!) Jason Segel grew on me as Gary.

There are a number of amusing cameos, although I thought the movie could have had more of them, with bigger stars. I especially liked seeing the man who popped up in the first version of "Life's a Happy Song," and I also thought the sequence at Miss Piggy's Parisian office was done very well.

THE MUPPETS was directed by James Bobin. It runs 98. It's rated PG for "mild rude humor."

Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times thought the film was "charming," while Leonard Maltin described it as "a joyful movie." USA Today says it "bursts with charm and cheeky humor."

Recommended as solid entertainment which will be enjoyed by all ages.


Blogger DKoren said...

Do you know I've never seen the Muppets? I can name Kermit and Miss Piggy, but I don't know a single other character. There's all these "standards" of childhood that everyone else I know used to watch, but I've never seen (ie: Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, Charlie Brown, the Muppets). My mom did not dig that kind of stuff, and so we did not watch it. We jumped right into Star Trek and Bonanza and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea instead. No true kids shows except for Bugs Bunny, or the old Disney animation films. People will say to me just about every year, "You know how in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special x, y, or z happens..." Me: "No." LOL!

2:44 PM  

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