Wednesday, November 30, 2011
First we meet Walter, an outcast puppet-like boy with a whimsy and spirit and an encouraging older brother named Gary (Segal.) His world is changed by The Muppet Show, the first representation of him on television; Walter being from Smalltown, America, this is a big deal. There's probably a deeper metaphor there, and perhaps an apt one on one's personal struggle for universal acceptance, but who cares-- this is a Muppet movie, and in the end, the let's-put-on-a-show song and dance is far more fun. Through happenstance, Walter makes it to Los Angeles to visit his dreamland, the ole Muppet Studios alongside big bro and his neglected but absolutely adorable girlfriend of ten years, Mary (played with Enchanted-like cutesy-ness by Amy Adams.) The problem, it's a ruin, the Muppets long parted ways, their old stomping grounds a relic of the past, and currently while an evil robber baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plots to take over the property due to rumors that oil runs beneath...malicious laugh. Not to fear, Walter has a plan-- reunite the Muppet gang and bring them back to splendor, reviving their storied studio as well as their fame. First step-- find Kermit the Frog.
The most amusing bits (and that's saying quite a lot) is reuniting the old gang in gloriously silly and insipid fashion. Fozzie Bear is stuck in a sad Muppets cover band in a greasy lounge in Reno. Gonzo has become a successful toilet entrepreneur, while Animal is in anger management tempted by his drums to a startling degree. Statler and Waldorf are still cranky. That's the spark and the note that reminds this isn't an underlying cynical film of Muppets gone irrelevant, but a fun and spirit resurrection of something that many might (including myself) have realized they didn't know they missed. There's still that dash of irreverence, whimsical mischief, celebrity cameos (Jack Black is a real sport) and songs that made them so damned likeable to begin with. The one holdout on the Muppet reunion is, but of course, Miss Piggy, living extravagantly Kermit-free in Paris as the high powered editor of the plus-sized division of Vogue...Emily Blunt gives a juicy cameo parodying her Devil Wears Prada role. Rashida Jones matches as a cynical, overly latte-ed network executive.
The joy of The Muppets as always has had nothing to do with plot, but with bits-- the endless barrage of hit and miss sight gags all thrown up in the air, only to land with a big giant smirk on its audiences face. And while time may have fattened the scope a bit-- for instance Walter, the newest muppet begins a bigger slog as the picture continues, and Gary and Mary become more and more irrelevant as well, there's that joyous showmanship that reigns superior. For Fozzie the Bear may now come equipped with fart shoes, he still utters "Wawka Wawka" with singular stupid grace, for everything old is new again and vice versa; as long as The Muppets can keep the happy tune afloat, not to sound a total dork, I have everything I need. A-