Middling Magic

If you trust critics and follow their picks and pans, The new Muppet movie is way, way overrated. At 97% on the Tomatometer, I was expecting a minor masterpiece – something moving along the lines of TOY STORY 3. I expected to be (minorly) wowed.

Lately, children’s films, have a pretty stellar track record. Mostly all the Pixar stuff – TOY STORY, and WALL-E, and RATATOUILLE, and UP, and THE INCREDIBLES (and more that aren’t coming to mind at the moment) – is top notch, taking live action films to task in the warmth department. One of these films (TOY STORY 3) even made me cry (well, almost).

All of these movies (I’ll throw in THE IRON GIANT, so we aren’t only talking Pixar) take you places and generate genuine emotion. Their potential drives me out to pay top dollar on things like THE MUPPETS. If the filmmakers have real heart, and know how to push the right buttons, these things can be very effective entertainment. Never underestimate the power of a well-made family film.

(That’s a lot of Muppets!)

As far as THE MUPPETS go…meh…sorry…no dice.

It’s cute. And a little funny. And completely harmless. But…well…meh.

Maybe my expectations were simply too high (same goes for biases – I’m a Muppet fan from way back).

I must admit, I was enchanted by the opening. Jason Segel, and Amy Adams (both perfectly cast), and Walter, a Muppet living amongst humans (created new for the movie), sing and dance their way through Smalltown, USA, in joyous anticipation of their big trip to Los Angeles (where a dilapidated Muppet Studios so happens to run daily tours).

The setup, where we get to see Gary and Walter grow up together, and learn about Gary and Mary’s ten-year romance, is sugary good fun. I don’t think I stopped smiling for the entire first ten minutes. So far, so magical.

Things go downhill faster than Gonzo being shot from a cannon (which does not happen in the movie – a major misstep for sure). There’s a villain (Chris Cooper…meh), and a getting-the-gang-back-together-and-then-put-on-a-big-show plotline (meh), peppered with amusing musical numbers and goofy, golly-gee-innocent jokes (my wife argues it would have been a better a film had it been more of a musical. Even an opera. I agree). It moves along innocuously introducing a new generation to The Muppets, whistling, smiling, having a good old-time. I think the kids will dig it.

(With Animal on the sticks, picking a fave Muppets is a no brainer…)

Though the film mostly flies, it never soars. Segal and crew were smart to keep the tone light and whimsical. A hip, in-your-face reboot would have been a bad, bad thing. As it is, THE MUPPETS, is still highly watchable. It’s a little anemic and squanders tons of interesting storylines for the safe roadtrip / big show formula (Kermit shines, the rest of the Muppets have very little to do), but, despite missed opportunities, it’s sort of fun, and providing it does well (I predict huge $$$boxoffice$$$), a nice introduction for the inevitable sequels.

(My musical number got cut from the final film. Maybe it’ll show up in the video extras?)

Hey look! It’s Animal vs. Buddy Rich


4 Responses to “Middling Magic”

  1. Thnx for the review buddy.I am not a big fan of Jason Segal esp. after watching his perfomance in How i met your mother lately.But i think this is a one time watch movie just for revisiting the past.

  2. Definitely. It’s sweet, innocent fun. It’s a perfect little kid’s movie.

  3. Animal Vs. Rich…. F’n RULES!!!!

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