Media Mediated Micro-Review: The Muppets

The Muppets 2011 movie starring Jason Segal, Amy Adams, and Kermit the FrogOver Thanksgiving weekend I saw The Muppets with my family. I did not stop smiling through the film; Kermit and crew are as ridiculously charming as ever.

The plot is simple: while touring the run-down Muppet Studios with his brother Gary (Jason Segal) and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), an enthusiastic muppet fan named Walter (himself also a brightly-colored puppet with no nose) discovers an oil magnate’s scheme to raze the Muppet Theater and start drilling on its grounds. Much of the movie’s charm comes from its self-aware cheese. Walter tries to convince Kermit the Frog to reunite the Muppets for a fund-raising show to save the theater, and when Kermit seems hesitant, Mary remarks with a worried frown: “This is going to be a very short movie!” As Kermit tracks down the rest of the team, they decide to speed up the process with a musical montage, and when they discover that Miss Piggy currently resides as a fashion mogul in Paris, Fozzie suggests that they travel “by map.” Cut away to a red line tracing its way across the Atlantic, and a shot of the car driving up on a crowded European beach.

Propelling the plot is the question of whether the muppets are still relevant to the present generation. The silver screen hasn’t seen a new muppet film in some ten years, and the brand has dropped out of the limelight since Disney acquired it in 2004. Contemporary culture is more cynical, with fewer taboos about potentially offensive material: how could the family-friendly slapstick of the muppets speak to the Judd Apatow generation? This movie is a rather daring answer to that question, that with humor for humans of all ages, the muppets can bring us “the third-best thing of all–laughter.” And it succeeds, with rambunctious slapstick, self-aware schtick, and just a hint of an edge for flavor. I’m not sure whether to give it a 3 or a 4, but I certainly enjoyed it, as will any other metahumor junkie. (And aren’t you, a reader of Sketch Comedy, also a metahumor junkie?)

That’s my take on it, anyway. The following links may also be of interest to you:

Tom Brazelton from the webcomic Theater Hopper has been celebrating Muppet Fever for the past two weeks, and his accompanying blog entries have some salient reflections for long-time muppet fans.

Plugged In Magazine also has an interview with Kermit the Frog about his past body of work, maintaining the integrity of the Muppet brand, and what to call him and Miss Piggy as a showbiz couple.

Have you seen The Muppets yet? What did you think?

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