Tuesday, November 29, 2011
(It's Time to Meet the Muppets)
I love Jason Segel. He's hilarious both in writing and acting, stars in my current favorite television show, and clearly knows a thing or two about puppets. But what is the funnyman, who doesn't shy away from full-frontal nudity, doing with the family-friendly muppets? The answer: giving our friends a glorious comeback that has been long overdue.
I had been silently counting down the days until the Muppet movie release ever since I heard that it was in the works. I wasn't sure what to expect but was willing to bet that Segel's love and respect for the gang would ensure plenty of laughter, great tunes (a la the Dracula musical), and of course plenty of guest stars. I was far from disappointed.
Early on we learn that brothers Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter have a close relationship despite their differences; Segel's Gary is an ever-growing human, while poor Walter (who looks suspiciously muppet-like) remains the same height throughout the opening montage. Walter soon discovers the Muppet Show and falls in love, longing to find his place among the gang. Fast forward to the grown-up years where Gary plans to take his girlfriend of ten years, Mary (played by the very-appropriately cast Amy Adams) to Hollywood for their anniversary. Gary invites Walter to tag along (much to Mary's chagrin), and the trip quickly becomes a quest to visit the old Muppet Studios. When Walter learns that evil oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to destroy the landmark to drill for oil, he sets out on a quest to stop him. In order to do that, he must get the whole Gang back together to raise $10 million to buy the studios. The problem is, the gang has been split up for years and scattered all over the world. The always-glamorous Miss Piggy is living her dream as the plus-size editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in an anger management facility with Jack Black, Fozzy is in Reno performing his act with the Moopets, and Gonzo is running Gonzo's Royal Flush, a highly successful plumbing company. I won't give away any spoilers, but I will say that the plot unfolds beautifully and viewers will not be able to get enough of the Muppet antics right up until the end.
The movie is filled with great music and hilarious moments - one song in particular, called Man or Muppet is the standout favorite for me. Featuring great lyrics and hilarious surprises (like a cameo from Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons), this is really the turning point when Gary and Walter must decide what is really important to them in life. I guarantee you'll laugh through this one. Another standout is a beautiful rendition of an old classic, The Rainbow Connection.
It is my understanding that there was a bit of controversy surrounding the return of the Muppets. There were those who believed that their resurrection would prove fruitless - like original Muppet heavyweight Frank Oz who passed on the opportunity to be a part of the project, claiming that he didn't believe the characters would be respected. The resulting film couldn't be further from that description. If anything is evident from this movie, it's the blatant love and respect that Segel has for these characters. He handles them with charm and grace, and brings us a new story that I hope all generations can enjoy. If you love the Muppets, there is no doubt that you will love this. Do yourself a favor this holiday season and take your whole family to experience The Muppets!