Saturday, November 26, 2011

NN REVIEW: The Muppets

It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights, these Muppets have life in them yet. It's been over a decade since the Muppets graced the silver screen and their return to theaters couldn't be more welcome. The Muppets brings the gang back to life and breathes life into a franchise that somehow fell off the face of the earth. It brings back the innocent, clean, silly humor that makes the Muppets great and will please both fans of the old Muppets and newcomers to the series alike.

The plot of the movie is pretty basic and makes plenty of references to the actual state of the Muppets. Long forgotten by their fans, the Muppets have been out of work for years. Their contract is coming to an end and if they don't raise $10 million, the evil Tex Richman will buy out their old studio and use the property to drill oil. We follow the story of Gary (Jason Segel), his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) and Gary's Muppet brother Walter as they take a trip to Los Angeles and get caught up in the Muppets' goal to earn $10 million. Their barriers include getting the gang back together, finding a television station to air their show, finding a celebrity host and more. It's a perfect way to reintroduce us to the classic Muppet characters and try to get as many familiar faces on screen as possible in the brief running time.

This is Jason Segel's passion project inside and out. You should know by now that he has always been a fan of the Muppets and he put the Dracula musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall as sort of an audition to make The Muppets movie. And speaking of musicals, the songs in The Muppets are absolutely brilliant. I won't spoil any of them but from the opening number to the closing act, each song finds a unique sound that keeps the lightheartedness of the Muppets alive. From the musical numbers to the references to old school Muppets you can see his passion in each and every frame of the movie. It's great to see someone's love for something translate into such a fantastic final product that everyone seems to be enjoying.

In true Muppet fashion there are countless celebrity cameos in the film, most of which leave you wanting more. We see Neil Patrick Harris, Zach Galifinakis, Alan Arkin, Rashida Jones, John Krasinski, Sarah Silverman and more. It's great to see all these familiar faces scattered throughout the movie as celebrity guests were a big part of what made the Muppets famous in their prime. The performances are all true to the Muppet style. Silly and bright eyed, it seems as though everyone who participated in the movie did it out of sheer love for the Muppets and what they represent. This really is a fun movie to watch and I found it hard to stop smiling from beginning to end.

For those who are not huge fans of the Muppets, like me, there will be quite a few references that you may not understand. This movie definitely has a little more in store for the fans of the old series but there is still plenty to love for those of us who haven't been with the Muppets from the beginning. The movie keeps a free spirited tone throughout and in the end focuses on the message that the Muppets have always tried to convey; that life is only worth living with the people that you love. It's sad how few movies these days provide clean, wholesome humor that everyone can enjoy and The Muppets is a breath of fresh air from a franchise that has been around for years. Here's hoping that more Muppets movies are on the way!


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