The Muppets Are the Holidays’ Best Act
- Wednesday, November 23, 2011
DVD Release Date: March 20, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: November 23, 2011
Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor)
Run Time: 105 min.
Director: James Bobin
Actors: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Jack Black. Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Mickey Rooney, Rico Rodriguez
Considering his big-screen acting gigs are usually more of the R-rated variety, Jason Segel (Bad Teacher), who also stars in TV’s How I Met Your Mother, isn’t exactly the logical choice for reviving “The Muppets” franchise.
But logical or not, what’s clear from the get-go is that Segel is a huge fan of these lovable puppets, vintage charm and all, and that’s precisely why the movie works so well. Rather than trying to modernize the Muppets with risqué humor or an overabundance of pop culture references, Segel, who stars and serves as a co-writer, chooses to celebrate these characters just as they are.
Oh, and there’s even a new Muppet along for the ride, namely Gary’s (Segel) younger brother, Walter. It’s funny because Walter’s obvious Muppet-ness is never mentioned until a song called “Am I Man—Or Am I a Muppet” settles the score later on. Still, one can’t help cracking up at the sight of Gary, who’s much, much too big and grown-up to be sleeping in a twin bed, sharing a room with his little brother, who as inspired storytelling would have it, is the Muppets’ #1 fan.
Not only does Walter incorporate something Kermit-related into every fashion statement he makes, but his big dream is to visit Muppets’ studio in Hollywood. Coincidentally enough, that’s about to happen very soon as Gary has decided to surprise his girlfriend of 10 years, Mary (Amy Adams, The Fighter) with a Los Angeles vacation. For Mary, it’s a much-needed opportunity to reconnect and celebrate their upcoming anniversary in style since Gary spends most of his time doting on Walter.
Unfortunately for poor, neglected Mary (and Adams plays this up so well, especially in song), Gary has also invited his brother along, too, since he scored tickets for the tour of Walter’s dreams. And before long, the trio is hopping the Greyhound and leaving Smalltown USA for the bright lights of La La Land. Trouble is, Muppets’ Studio isn’t quite how anyone pictured it. Abandoned and on the verge of being condemned, an opportunistic tycoon appropriately named Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, The Town) can’t wait to get his hands on the property because there’s oil—and lots of it—underneath.
Devastated to see his heroes’ hallowed theater reduced to an unsightly junkyard, Walter practically begs Gary and Mary to do something—anything—to save the building from demise. Turns out, keeping the deed in the Muppets’ name will cost a not-so-tidy six-figure sum, though.
Even with the odds stacked heavily in Richman’s favor, however, the determined trio is convinced they can reunite The Muppets and raise the funds with a telethon.
After they get in touch with Kermit easily enough, the next big challenge is getting the other Muppets onboard. With only a few days to raise the money and Fozzie Bear in Reno (performing with a Muppets’ tribute band, The Moppets, no less), Miss Piggy in Paris and Animal in rehab for his rage issues with Jack Black (playing himself) in Santa Barbara, the quest seems downright impossible. Fortunately, the ability to “travel by map” and “track down the others in a montage,” both staples of the Muppet universe, are time-saving efforts that serve them well.
While there’s definitely no doubt how the story will end, the journey is sure a memorable one. Filled with jaunty musical sequences (including a rare opportunity to see Cooper, the go-to guy for serious roles, channel his inner rap star), a slew of celebrity cameos and nostalgic blasts from the past featuring everyone from the Swedish Chef to those curmudgeonly jokesters, The Muppets is a funny and heartwarming trip down Memory Lane.
And for the younger set in particular, it showcases how fascinating characters trump over-the-top stunts any day of the week—even when they're puppets who are decidenly old-school in comparison to, say, robots in disguise.
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