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Muppet Mania! | EduClaytion

Muppet Mania!

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.

The Muppet Show

Image via Wikipedia

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?

38 Responses to “Muppet Mania!”

  1. PCC Advantage November 30, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    “I imagined what it would look like if The Muppet Show were to come back on as a regular television show today.” ~ do you know how many times I’ve thought the very same thing?

    If I could just see Animal bang those drums on a regular basis, I think that all would be right in my world… ;)

    P.S. Is it weird that sometimes I do the Swedish Chef’s voice for my nephew…more to make myself laugh than him? Is that weird?

    • educlaytion November 30, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      I sometimes walk around my house by myself doing the Swedish Chef’s voice. So that’s not weird. Right?

      • PCC Advantage November 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

        Um…I might do that too.

        I also might sometimes sing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” in a Kermit voice…still not weird, right?

        • educlaytion November 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

          If you’re asking me, there are far scarier things a woman can say or do :-)

  2. susielindau November 30, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I have not seen the new movie, but have always been a big fan. I would love our family to see it together over the holidays. I watched the old television show and remember the hecklers as my favorite characters. You pointed out the meta aspect and that was unique back in the day and I’m glad they have continued.
    Great guest post by a “rabid fan!”
    I am off to Youtube to hear “The Rainbow Connection!”

    • educlaytion November 30, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      The old guys are always popular. You’ll like how they move a round a bit in this movie.

  3. Kim Wilson November 30, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I haven’t seen it yet, but since it’s only been out a week, I won’t feel bad about that. :) Thanks for the review, Lee and Clay. I look forward to being reacquainted with my childhood buddies!

    • educlaytion November 30, 2011 at 11:25 am #

      You must see it. It’s an important life decision.

  4. jacquelincangro November 30, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    I *heart* The Muppets.
    Last year they filmed a television Christmas special in my neighborhood. They took over one of the brownstones for the day I got to see many of my favorite Muppets including Kermit! The two old guys that sit in the balcony were stationed in the windows of the brownstone and being their snarky selves to all of the passersby. It was fantastic!

    • educlaytion November 30, 2011 at 11:25 am #

      I am exceedingly jealous. The Muppets filmed in your neighborhood! I wish they would hang out with me.

  5. seekingpastor November 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    I haven’t seen it, but want to. The old guys especially crack me up.

    • educlaytion November 30, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      I knew you’d be a Muppet man. Wasn’t that a Pearl Jam song? Muppet Man…

  6. Leanne Shirtliffe November 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    My roommate and I spent many dinners on the couch watching Jeopardy and Muppets reruns. I love the Muppets show. I’ve been less of a fan of their movies. Still, I might take VW to see it. Especially if Jim is in it. He’s no Colin, but…

    • educlaytion November 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      Do it. And while we’re talking, can you distract Jim for, oh, a week or two?

  7. gojulesgo November 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    It was soooo awesome! I DIED at the “Forget You” number. And it definitely did work on a lot of levels; mostly, though, I felt like it was for ‘us’ (who grew up with the Muppets in the 70s/80s).

    And yes, Lee – Freaks and Geeks rules! Too bad it was canceled so quickly. Almost as tragic as when My So-Called Life was canned.

    • educlaytion November 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

      You have some pretty good tastes there Jules. But I do think it’s funny that you still lament the cancellation of MSCL :D

  8. Emily Cannell November 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    My nickname in High School was Beaker, unfortunately.

    • educlaytion December 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Ha, a certain acquaintance of mine has a long-seeded fear of Beaker that I’ve only recently discovered.

  9. Amy November 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Gah, I want to see this movie! I loved the show as a kid and have always thought it would be great if they brought it back. There aren’t that many prime time shows that both kids and adults can enjoy equally.

  10. Darlene Steelman November 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    As a total Kermit the Frog freak… (I even did a post on Kermie) I am very much looking forward to seeing this movie! :) Thanks for a great post!

    • educlaytion December 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      Kermit rocks! Let me know what you think when you see it.

  11. MaLinda Johnson November 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    I was nervous to see the movie, given the fact that the last Muppet movie seemed to lack plot depth (Muppets From Space fell kinda flat for me without Jim Henson behind the wheel.) If Segel revived the old magic as well as you claim, it will be worth watching. Thanks for an awesome review!

    • educlaytion December 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      It’s definitely worth watching. It’s better than Muppet Treasure Island which I actually like a lot.

  12. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson December 1, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    ANIMAL ANIMAL ANIMAL!

    Please tell me he is in it. He is, right?

  13. Todd Pack December 1, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    I was looking forward to seeing the movie until I read that some of the Muppet performers (including former Muppeteer Frank Oz) didn’t like it, thought Disney and Jason Segal were being disrespectful to the characters. Then I saw it and decided those Muppet performers take themselves too seriously. It was a good little movie, and if you didn’t break out into a big, goofy grin during the shot-for-shot recreation of The Muppet Show opening, then I don’t want to know you.

    • educlaytion December 1, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

      That scene was great for sure. I smiled a LOT.

  14. Marianne December 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    I have purchased the first two seasons of the Muppets. I make my children watch them with me. It brings them culture without having to leave the house.

    • educlaytion December 2, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      Good parents show their children The Muppets.

  15. thoughtsappear December 2, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    I only ever really watched Muppet Babies…the cartoon. Please don’t hate me.

    • educlaytion December 3, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      I too watched the Muppet Babes. That counts for the purposes of this test. Although, you’re kind of a bad person for never watching them. But I think you’re swell.

  16. duckofindeed December 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    I haven’t seen this, and I didn’t watch The Muppet Show, but I very much like the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island. I have the latter, and I keep missing the former on the TV. Darn it! I caught it half way through or something the other day, but I want to see it from the beginning. I’ll have to keep looking.

    • educlaytion December 13, 2011 at 8:55 am #

      Muppet Treasure Island rocks. It’s also the only movie (I think) with a funny character called Clueless Morgan. Love that guy.

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