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‘The Muppets’ is Hilarious, Joyful Entertainment

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CHICAGO – The Muppets stand on such a pedestal for an entire generation that there was an understandable amount of trepidation when it was announced that Jason Segel and Disney were moving forward with a reboot. How could it possibly live up to our expectations? Would they turn Kermit, Fozzie, and Miss Piggy into commercial commodities like “The Smurfs” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks”? How could the guy from “How I Met Your Mother” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” possibly carry the torch passed by Jim Henson? Segel not only does the legacy of Henson’s creation proud with “The Muppets,” he’s delivered one of the best family films of the last decade and arguably the funniest film of 2011.

Smart, uplifting, nostalgic, and, most of all, joyful in every way, “The Muppets” is pure entertainment that crosses generations. Kids will see a movie with wacky puppets singing and dancing. Adults will see something that taps into a feeling that they may not have even realized they were missing. The Muppets are about so many things absent from today’s family entertainment – creativity, community, imagination, and personal expression. Leave your cynicism at the door. There’s no place for it here.

The Muppets
The Muppets
Photo credit: Disney

Before I get too far, perhaps I should make something clear – “The Muppets” is just DAMN funny. Like laughing-hard-enough-you-miss-the-next-joke-funny. Here’s where I would usually list a few examples, but honestly there’s a solid laugh every other minute in this film, and, when you’re not laughing, you’re just smiling at the overall glee of the production. Everything about “The Muppets” screams happiness…as it should. One can tell that everyone involved made the film with such reverence for its characters and pure joy at being able to bring them back to life.

And that’s what the movie is about on a plot level as well. Bringing The Muppets back to life. Segel stars as Gary, the human lead of the piece, brother to one of the more controversial elements of the film, a new puppet named Walter. Now, Walter is NOT a Muppet. In the world of the film, The Muppets exist as a popular entity. They made movies, had a TV show, and were rich & famous. And Walter was their biggest fan. He dreamed of just meeting The Muppets, much less being one.

The Muppets
The Muppets
Photo credit: Disney

When Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) plan a trip to Los Angeles, they agree to bring Walter along so he can meet his heroes at Muppet Studios, but they arrive to find it in a serious state of decay. Walter sneaks into Kermit’s former office just in time to hear the evil Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) reveal that he’s planning to buy The Muppets and destroy them. The only thing that could possibly save the legend is to find the gang and get the gang back together in time for a legacy-saving telethon. Part road movie, part stage show, the plot structure of “The Muppets” courtesy of co-writers Segel & Nicholas Stoller is a thing of beauty. It allows the characters we know and love to do what they do best and for the team to throw in an unexpected slew of cameos including Alan Arkin, Emily Blunt, Sarah Silverman, Zack Galifianakis, and the best thing that Jack Black has done in years.

Of course, music plays a major role in “The Muppets,” and I’ll admit it was one of the elements that made me the most hesitant. The thought of Kermit and Fozzie singing bad tunes weighed down by pop culture references made me sick. But, supervised by Bret McKenzie of “Flight of the Conchords,” the music in “The Muppets” is fantastic. The main theme, “Life’s a Happy Song,” is one of the best tunes written for a movie of any kind in years. I was humming it the next day and I can’t remember the last time that happened. And it’s not alone. The music is used sparingly, especially after the first act, but it’s used smartly. I will say that I worry that the chickens singing Cee-lo will date the movie and Richman’s rap number is awkwardly delivered and staged, but those are the film’s only flaws.

And I mean ONLY. I never ever would have thought that I’d be here raving about a Muppet movie in 2011. I thought for sure that these wonderful creations were a thing of my past, something I would show to my sons as nostalgia through “The Muppet Movie” and the original series. They would be introduced as a part of daddy’s childhood, a thing of the past. Now they’re a part of the present again and the world seems a bit happier of a place because The Muppets are back in it.

“The Muppets” stars Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and Chris Cooper. It was written by Segel & Nicholas Stoller and directed by James Bobin. It opens on November 23rd, 2011 and is rated PG.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

ziggy one of the best's picture

"The Muppets"

I am glad to say even tho I’m a adult I love this movie and any Muppets movie they make the only sad part of this fine flim was they didn’t have my favorite muppets like Big bird and count dag. plus the cookie mons.

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