Last night, as a surprise I took my wife out to see The Best Movie Of the Year.
We went to see The Muppets.
For our entire lives we had been fans of Jim Henson’s creations, and have watched and rewatched the original movies more times than Gonzo has crashed into something. The Muppet Movie thrilled us to no end, with tears always flowing for the final scenes. The Great Muppet Caper was a fun romp with a hotel we would love to visit in real life. And The Muppets Take Manhattan always touches us with the long awaited wedding of Kermit and Piggy.
But then the dark times hit. Muppets Christmas Carol and Muppets Treasure Island were passable, with some imagination to it. Muppets From Space started off well, then they added a plot and the whole thing became a mess. The countless television and direct to dvd specials became a chore to even view. The magic of Jim Henson seemed to evaporate with his passing. Some of these shows were painful to see.
And now we have an early Christmas present, for The Muppets are back. Thank You Santa!
Everything about this gem screams greatness. Kermit, Fozzie, Mrs. Piggy, and Gonzo inhabit the big screen again as a force of nature unto themselves. For once the suits in charge have let the creative people steer the fun and merriment, and every ounce of it shows in front of you. Someone please send this message along to DC Comics with the Green Lantern movie. Thank you.
The essence of this tale is the realization The Muppets are out of flavour with the masses. And they must reform, with the help of new Muppet Walter, in order to save their old theatre from a villain. The bad guy is cartoony and is essentially a plot device to drive the main narrative. The real enemy is time. Kermit has to put the band back together and put on a show. And reconciling with Mrs. Piggy would be nice as well. The side story with Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and Walter are cute extras, with a bit of a moral punch, somewhat mirroring the main story.
But what we are really here for is to laugh and cry and thrill and remember with The Muppets. Kermit singing about his old friends hurts. Musical montages cause the laughter to spill out of you. Callbacks to previous films are appreciated. And Gonzo is Gonzo. Need I say more?
This rejuvenated effort also brings back a staple from years gone by, the celebrity cameos. Stars old and new populate the screen, some eliciting cheers from the audience. And a few you are surprised are still alive.
Drama and excitement build, as Muppets and humans sort through their individual issues, all while singing and dancing and telling corny jokes. The final act, with the Muppets putting on another show, is brilliant. At this point tears of laughter were streaming down our faces. New concepts are married to the Muppets mythos, making their universe even bigger. While we missed some old skits not being included, it did not distract from our enjoyment.
In fact, we found very few missteps in the entirety of The Muppets. Minor quibbles really with such a fantastic project. Kudos must be given to the writers for incorporating so much into this journey, melding the past to the present and making it seem effortless.
The explosion of happiness that erupted from us during The Muppets was heartfelt. They are back and providing joy to the world.
And Animal is still the best drummer of them all.
P.S. The Muppets and all characters are copyright 2011 to Jim Henson Company and Disney Corporation.