Some people feel that the “golden age” of the Muppets was over when creator Jim Henson passed away in 1990. Others were willing to give up on the furry friends after the atrocious made-for-TV movie, The Muppets Wizard of Oz in 2005. And then their next big gig, Muppets TV in 2006 was short-lived. For the most part, the gang pretty much stayed dormant the last few years popping up on You Tube with parodies of rock songs. But in the last few weeks, the cuddly crew have come back with a vengeance showing up on everything from Dancing with the Stars to Saturday Night Live.
The Disney Company is putting everything they have in the simply named movie, The Muppets in hopes of a grand revival. Some are still skeptical. This is director James Bobin’s first feature film and the script was co-written by Jason Segel, known for more raunchy fare. Even Frank Oz, the voice Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear, is rumored to want nothing to do with the latest venture and refused to voice the characters in the new film. To all the haters out there…you were wrong.
Instead of trying to make the Muppets “more relevant,” Disney focused on the characters and a good story, albeit a simple one. It’s sweet. It’s funny. The music is catchy. The characters are they way you remember them and there’s nothing in it that you’ll have to cover your kids’ eyes for.
In addition to writing the script, Jason Segel plays Gary who is the twin brother of Walter, a Muppet. Gary has been dating Mary (Amy Adams, another perfect choice) for 10 years and the two have decided to visit Los Angeles for a romantic adventure. Since L.A. is the home of Muppet Studios, Gary convinces Mary to take Walter along. When they get to the studios, it is apparent that it is run down, but Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) has bought the property to turn it into a Muppet museum. This sounds like good news, but Walter finds out the Tex actually wants to tear down the building and drill for oil instead. Gary, Mary and Walter find Kermit and fill him in on the details and plan to raise the money to buy the land back. And how is this gang of misfits able to do that? By putting on a show of course.
It is not only a great film, it is also a great introduction to the franchise to those who have not grown up with the characters. Kids will love the crazy antics and parents will appreciate the Airplane/Police Squad humor. It’s nostalgic and yet fresh. It’s a simple story of friendship and love maybe told in a more compelling way than many family films. It also features a big bunch of cameos from stars like Jack Black, Mickey Rooney, Zach Galifianakis and more, so what is not to love?
(Main Image: Walt Disney Pictures)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.