I finally saw the new Muppets movie. I say finally because is was out almost 48 hours before I was able to get to the theater. You can read a few of my thoughts in a minute, but I’ve asked Lee of College Ready Writing fame (find her on Twitter) to pitch in her thoughts as well.
She might just be the biggest fan I know. Take it away Lee.
Clay, I have to say that I am pre-disposed to absolutely adore this movie; not only am I a rabid Muppet fan (as outlined right here and at my own blog), but I am also a huge Jason Segel fan, dating way back to his Freaks and Geeks days (if you don’t know Freaks and Geeks, find it, watch it, and thank me later).
My kids, aged 2 and 4, have been raised on the Muppets; we own the first three seasons of The Muppet Show on DVD (get on those last two seasons, Disney!) and we also watch Sesame Street Old School on DVD.
This movie worked for me on so many levels. The new songs were catchy, sweet, and fit the movie quite well. As for the critique that Kermit would never had abandoned the gang and holed himself up in a Bel-Air mansion? I just don’t buy it. Maybe Frank Oz didn’t agree to do the movie because it hit a little too close to home for him. How many of the old Muppet crew still, in fact, work together? Life goes on, and often in directions we don’t plan or expect. I think that particular detail rang the truest for me.
I also was geeking out about all of the small details scattered throughout Muppet Studios; one of the ones that I struck me the most was a picture of the a Muppet used when Harry Belafonte sang “Turn the World Around,” one of my all-time favorite moments on the show. But I also liked the more contemporary winks, such as the chickens “singing” Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You,” which he himself performed at the Grammy’s dressed as Elton John when he performed “Crocodile Rock” on the Muppet Show (did you follow all that?). And when they broke into “Rainbow Connection,” the song I sing every night to my 2-year-old son, and we were able to sing it together, with him on my lap? That’s a moment I’ll always treasure.
(Another moment, just before the movie started, we were installed in our seats and my son looked at me and my husband and exclaimed, I love you guys!)
The one thing that didn’t work for me was the song that Amy Adams and Miss Piggy sang about being a “Party of One.” I get it, I really do, and perhaps it’s a meta-commentary on how there has always been way more male than female characters (real and Muppet) in the Muppet universe. But, to me, it brought the movie to a screeching halt.
Speaking of the people, I was worried that the movie would be way too heavy-handed with the celebrity cameos, but they were well done and didn’t overwhelm the movie in the slightest. In fact, I wish some of them had been longer and more detailed (couldn’t Neil Patrick Harris have hosted the telethon?).
In conclusion, I’m going to sneak out one afternoon this week and see the movie again by myself. And download the soundtrack. And buy it on DVD when it comes out.
Thanks Lee. What did I think of this movie? Are you asking moi?
Ahh, the Muppets. They’ve made me so happy for so many years. I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time, at least a decade anyway. Segel did the franchise right, I think, even if Frank Oz doesn’t like the way the story turned. As far as that controversy goes, I don’t see how the movie detracts from the Henson legacy or characters appeal.
I was really glad when I found out there wouldn’t be a 3D version of this movie. Now that I’ve seen it I don’t even recall any CGI in there. That addition by subtraction proves that the characters and their trademark humor/sweetness work in any generation. In the theater where I watched the film I heard as much laughter from kids as I did adults.
So what worked best? First off would be the familiarity. I love that the Muppets are distanced from one another after all these years. The fact that they have to reunite allows for a proper introduction to younger people just meeting them all for the first time.
Another thing I love is those hilarious meta references. The Marx Brothers were kings of that back in the day. Jim Henson was also a fan and made it a staple that has been preserved through this latest rendition. I was cracking up when the old guys Statler and Waldorf pointed out how clunky dialogue was obviously advancing the plot. Segel and Amy Adams also had some good ones.
Of course the Muppets are known for guest star cameos. The new movie has a fun rotation of stars including Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, and my beloved Emily Blunt. Ahh, Emily. Her husband John Krasinski is also in there, but I was kind of hoping for a little more in the celebrity department.
If they were going to show so little of each star then why not run a few more surprise visitors through. If they had the number they wanted, then why not feature them a bit more? During the film I imagined what it would look like if The Muppet Show were to come back on as a regular television show today. That would be fun to see a whole new generation of celebs interacting with the old crew.
Overall I enjoyed the movie. So many little things were kept consistent from the old days, and each quirk triggers a wave of memories that make pop culture such a great part of nostalgia.
What do you think of all this Muppet Mania?
Have you seen the new movie yet?