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Review: ‘The Muppets’ is the best puppet movie of 2011

Your rating: None Average: 3.2 (6 votes)

'The Muppets' movie posterRoger Ebert has written that the best way to enjoy a movie is in a crowded, reactive theater. I beg to differ.
The best way to enjoy a movie is in an empty theater, where you do not have to worry about your fellow moviegoer’s reactions coloring your own.

I learned this lesson from the Muppets; perhaps my fondest movie theater experience is having an entire theater alone with just my family watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. It's probably neither the studio’s nor the theater owner’s favorite way for you to watch a movie on the big screen, but if you find yourself laughing out loud alone in the dark, you know that it is really you laughing.

Sadly for the Muppets, but happily for me, I had the theater all to myself for The Muppets. I found myself laughing in the dark once more.

Plot

The Muppets tells the story of two brothers, Walter and Gary. Gary, played by Jason Segel, is a regular guy, while Walter is a puppet. The movie does not bother to explain this (I suspect peacocks were involved).  Walter and Gary are both big fans of the Muppets, though Walter is the bigger fan, for obvious reasons.

Gary is planning a romantic trip to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, Mary, played by Amy Adams, who teaches third grade auto repair. Gary plans to finally propose to Mary after ten years of dating. However, Gary and Walter are inseparable, so Walter’s coming along too, especially since the Muppet studios are in L.A.

At the studio, Walter overhears a plot by oil tycoon Tex Richman, played by Chris Cooper, to cheat the Muppets out of the studio – and even the right to the name “the Muppets” – in order to drill for oil under the studio. Walter and company rush to warn Kermit, who signed the studio over thinking it would be turned into a Muppet museum. The Muppets’ only chance is to raise $10 million dollars from a telethon in one week.

Can Kermit get the gang back together? Can he get a network to play the show? Can he find a celebrity host for the telethon, or will Miss Piggy just kidnap Jack Black? Is the world ready for the return of the Muppets? Meanwhile, can Walter find his talent as a Muppet? Will Gary and Mary have their romantic dinner and get married happily ever after? Will other subplots this review has not yet touched upon also be resolved?

Songs

The Muppets is a musical, so, spoiler alert, the characters burst into song frequently. Only one song is meant to be taken entirely seriously. Even the fairly serious “Pictures in My Head,” sung by Kermit as he remembers the good old days of the Muppets, features a line or two sung by the Swedish Chef in full gibberish.

The first number, “Life is a Happy Song,” takes the absurdity of the musical and runs with it, piling on ridiculous similes for life followed by rhyming explanations, culminating in “Life is a fresh caught fish! … Yes, it is!” Another standout is “Man or Muppet,” with lyrics like “If I’m a Muppet, I’m a very manly Muppet,” and featuring a cameo by Jim Parsons in which he basically just stands there and still manages to be a showstopper.

The one serious song features Kermit breaking out his banjo for the second to last act of the telethon to ponder about rainbows. It may not be a new song, but since the movie is as much about nostalgia as anything, it may easily bring the right audience to tears.

Even if that audience is just one guy alone in the dark.

Conclusion

The movie is called The Muppets, and that is exactly what you get when you watch it. For most, that should be reason enough to go see it. Everyone else is probably an oil baron.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

Not furry.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

I have a pretty exacting definition of furry, and yes, The Muppets does not reach these requirements by a long shot, but on the other hand, 2 the Ranting Griffin used The Brave Little Toaster as his shining example of the genre in a recent interview (and people wonder why the average person has no clue what the hell we're fans of), and the average furry is closer to that level, so I get to review a movie I liked! Yay!

When I don't like the rules, gives me more reason to abuse'em.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Okay, WATever.

Your rating: None

Talking, walking frog. Flirtatious, homicidal, self-conscious pig. Green monsters hiding in the trash. Good enough for me.

Your rating: None

Oscar does not appear in this movie. Should I have put that in the review?

Though it didn't reach my exacting standards, it certainly does have furry elements. Not just "squint and look at it sideways, and it could be construed as an anthropomorphic animal on an off day for anthropomorphic animals" elements, either. There are multiple fully anthropomorphic animals running around.

Looking at the crop of upcoming movies, I fully intend to review War Horse, and probably whatever they've changed Arrietty's title to this week if I manage to squint hard enough.

Your rating: None

I was referring more generally to the Muppets as a topic area. It's good to know, though!

Huh, they turned The Borrowers into a movie? I guess the book was more of a hit in Japan.

Edit: As for War Horse, I like The Onion's take on the topic.

Your rating: None

Actually, I should probably append my post to "I will review whatever they've changed Arrietty's title to this week if I manage to squint hard enough and it manages to reach Oklahoma theaters." So actually maybe people shouldn't really look forward to that.

I think it's more a Studio Ghibli thing; Howl's Moving Castle was a British young adult fantasy novel. It's sold as anime (i.e. look at this neat Japanese thing! Don't they just come up with the most amazing stuff!) over here; over there, they probably sell it as this neat Western thing, don't they just come up with the most amazing stuff!

What do they call a fortune cookie in China? The American fortune cookie.

Your rating: None

It has been decades since I read and enjoyed Mary Norton's Borrowers YA fantasies, but I don't remember any anthro characters in them -- just very small humans. And although I worship anything that Hayao Miyazaki does, I liked Diana Wynne Jones' original "Howl's Moving Castle" novel better than Miyazaki's cinematic version of it.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

I guess here is the most appropriate place to say I will NOT be reviewing singing chipmunk movies.

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Thank thou!

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

The Muppets. Maybe I'm too young, but I've never liked the Muppets. At all. :/

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Monty Python?

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

What?

Your rating: None

I am afraid to ask WHAT kind of humor you DO like...

Your rating: None

Eh, topical humor mostly. Nothing slapstick, stand-up, or involving puppets. I like Stephen Colbert.

Your rating: None

What do you think stand-up is?

It's jokes about topics!

What do you think Stephen Colbert is?

He's a stand-up comedian who happens to be sitting down!

Your rating: None

Stand-up comedy, these days, is jokes about how the different races/sexes/whatever are different from the other from the stand-point of whatever race/gender/whatever the comedian is. They are also about how much sex he/she is getting/not getting.

Stephen Colbert functions in topical comedy.

EDIT: Incidentally, Topical comedy is also known as satire, and according to Wikipedia, Topical comedy is:

Topical comedy relies on headlining/important news and current affairs. It dates quickly, but is a popular form of comedy for late night talk shows.

Your rating: None

You ever been in a comedy club? No, you're too young.

Don't talk to me about comedy. I've done it.

Your rating: None

*respect for the elderly*

DO SOME COMEDY! :D

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Actually, I'll do a joke I did from early 2010 that was really topical at the time, and totally killed.

"So, they just announced the nominees for the Best Picture Oscar, and one of my favorite movies of the year made it on the ballot. District 9. For those of you who didn't see it, it was a lot like Avatar, except it didn't suck.

Though we all saw it, right? I mean, I think everyone here should definitely have seen Avatar. I think it's the basis of the economy right now, actually.

But some people really went crazy about that movie, didn't they? I mean, just a little creepy. Read one article where they interviewed a guy coming out of the theater and asked him if he liked. He apparently liked. He said it was so awesome they should make porn of it.

I mean, seriously? Really? What is wrong with this guy? Does he just suck at Google or what?"

Besides the Best Picture intro, it's surprising how much of that bit is still relevant almost two years later.

Your rating: None

Not my cup o' tea.

Your rating: None

It's better live.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

Why would I be in a comedy club, anyway? I obviously have no sense of humor. :/

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Your humor is not the problem; you seem to be under the impression that your humor is something shameful and must be about something.

There are two kinds of people who read Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park; those who read it for the dinosaurs, and those who read it for the science. Except that's the not the real difference; the second group are in the first group, they just are liars.

You're a teenager; sorry if I don't think you really understand politics, though I can understand why you'd want people to think you do. Besides, you used to edit Encyclopedia Dramatica, which is to satire what Taco Bell is to Mexican cuisine.

Your rating: None

You're right I don't really understand it; I would be a liar if I implied anything otherwise. But I'm not blind to it, either.

Incidentally, I still edit ED. I'm just not able to as often as I used to. Besides, ED really isn't satire; it's insult humor. Most of my edits to the site aren't humorous anyway; I mostly do grammar fixings. :/

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Then you should really know better...

Topical humour is about current events and pop culture. Stand up is so broad of a category, to call it all topical humour is about as bad as saying it is all racist jokes. But stand up does have serious issue with fads though, making it almost synonymous with those fads, especially in locations lacking clubs with a distinct character.

I would think if one was going to use experience to pick on some one, it would be better to show it than just stating it. But as it seems more important than Muppets, maybe comedy lessons from a bear are just too dated.

Your rating: None

Read it in Fozzie's voice.

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Mostly just mad at the implied insults in Equivamp's post, actually. Not posting clearly.

Implied but incidental and not personal.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Well if satire's your thing you at least got to thank the Muppets for giving you Avenue Q.

Your rating: None

The reason I don't like the Muppets is because puppets creep me out, okay? I can't watch more than a few minutes of it without turning it off with a shudder. I wasn't even the one who brought up humor, nor did I say that had anything to do with my dislike for them.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Isn't it the ONLY puppet movie of 2011 - therefor making it the best? :D

Your rating: None

11/10

Your rating: None

Seriously, do I have to explain comedy to everyone on this site?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

I just figured you were one of those guys who watches X-rated puppet movies, giggling in the dark . . .

Your rating: None

Uh ... none of those came out this year.

Though I totally need to add Meet the Feebles to my Netflix queue.

However, I suppose Bitter Lake could also be construed as a puppet movie, now that I think about it. So I guess I had better see that first before I make statements. Or something.

Your rating: None

Well, there was The Beaver, I'd say that counts as a "puppet movie".

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I say, I say, I say --

Why did the intelligent, liberal, feminist lesbian film-maker make a movie starring a homophobic, wife-beating, anti-Semitic, fundamentalist-Catholic idiot bigot?

(If you can think up a funny punchline for this, you really should be working in comedy!)

Your rating: None

Oh, I forgot about that one.

But, uh, don't feel the need to run a correction.

Your rating: None

I can see how some folks aren't into the Muppets - nothing wrong with that. Me, I like the original Muppet Show tv episodes, and the first movie - everything after that point doesn't click for me. There are nice moments that pop up, but sitting through any of the later movies, for me, is a struggle. Plus I've got an anti-Disney bias (with exceptions), so although I won't be watching this latest incarnation, most online reviews seem to be positive about it. The only new Muppets things I've enjoyed have been the little musical videos where things go wrong. :)

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About the author

crossaffliction (Brendan Kachel)read storiescontact (login required)

a reporter and Red Fox from Hooker, Oklahoma, interested in movies, horror, stand up comedy

Formerly Wichita's only furry comic.