Friday, December 2, 2011

Movie Review: The Muppets

I saw it this afternoon in a virtually deserted theatre. A couple, a bearded singleton, a dad and his noisy, stomping tots. If I start with complaining ($14 dollars for parking!! My fingers ache! Aren't the Muppets dead?) it becomes apparent I'm pretty much both Statler and Waldorf already.

So thank you to everybody involved with "The Muppets" for dancing, singing, and smiling past my layers of crusty cynicism for a blast of fun. I needed that, and you guys and gals brought it.

Steve Whitmire- Kermit The Frog for the majority of my life. Brings nostalgia home hard and tender and tragic and beautiful. Always a romantic, always a dreamer, and always forced to be the realist in a barnyard crapstorm of chaos. Will Kermit carry the day?

Jason Segel & Amy Adams- adorable as Gary and Mary. Will their love survive... The Muppet Show?

Bret McKenzie- my fellow 35 year old, whose music, as always, is sheer delight. Is he Man, or is he Muppet?

Dave Goelz- still my favourite Not-Much-Like-a-Turkey alien.

Rashida Jones- the straight-shooting CDE TV executive Veronica whose ratings charts prove you can't go home again. Are you going to finish that latte?

Chris Cooper- evil Tex Richman, humorless oil tycoon. Is it as thankless job as it looks to be scary standing next to Uncle Deadly?

And Peter Linz- who plays Walter, the Anything Muppet in the midst of realizing himself.

Walter is the Muppet's biggest fan (for all the good it does him) and his love and devotion may be all that can bring the floundering Muppets together again. Can they find a celebrity to raise them from obscurity and raise $10 million to save their derelict theatre?

And why does nobody ever notice Hobo Joe?

To the most salient question: can devoted fans of the original cast see their way clear to accepting the newbies? I think some will. Gene Roddenberry's dead but the Star Trek reboot film was deservedly successful. Though the Muppets are even more the emotional brainchild of Jim Henson's toil, and though his too-early death was deeply tragic, I see no reason to bury the Muppets with him like some tyrant Pharaoh's powerless slaves. Jason Segel's story CLEARLY comes from a place of great veneration and love. I hope he makes a mint, because it's obvious the man loves these ping-pong balls on socks like the beloved characters they are to so many.

The biggest coup will be somehow pleasing that wide, jaded middle ground between the tykes and the aged. I'm not sure this film will work for everyone. But it sure does for me. I laughed out loud. I cried a little. I clapped. It was like a (kind of) torture.

When my wife returns from her adventures in the city where they filmed it, I hope we can see it together. To paraphrase the small green one: She makes me happy, now and forever.

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