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Film Review: The Muppets

Dec 15, 2011 04:16AM ● By Wendy Sipple

The newest Muppet movie follows the story of Walter. Walter is born a Muppet into a human family. Growing up he idolized the Muppets, so when his human brother Gary invites him on a trip to L.A. with his girlfriend, Walter makes the priority a trip to the Muppets old studio. While there Walter overhears an evil businessman’s plan to buy the studio and destroy it looking for oil. In a desperate attempt to save the Muppet’s studio Walter finds Kermit and the foursome embark on a journey to find and recruit the gang back together for a fundraiser in an effort to save the studio.

The opening scene and music number really captured what I expected to be the energy, tempo and imagination that would stretch the entire running time. Unfortunately The Muppets quickly turns into what feels like an odd and somewhat depressing journey. A self-described washed up cast of characters getting together for what amounted to be a telethon to save their past is not a lively plot. All of the manic energy, imagination and joy I would expect from a Muppet movie was missing for the majority of the movie.

What was perplexing was The Muppets took on issues that most children don’t usually connect to. It took the perceived notion that our world today is too skeptical. In addition the complicated romances of both Kermit the Frog and Gary dominated too much of the time without much entertainment or emotional payoff. Lastly the movie centered itself on a new Muppet character Walter that was a “super-fan” of the Muppets. Beyond causing his brother Gary trouble for being far too dependent, there was not much more to this character. Walter’s discovery of his “hidden” talent at the end was far from incredible and did not pay off in a big way either.

Perhaps because The Muppets is told mainly from Walter’s super-fan perspective, the movie seems to be a nostalgic look back at the characters instead of a bold step forward. The best moments of the movie are nods and covers of the Muppets best moments (including "Rainbow Connection"). These nods and covers are not nearly as endearing or well done as the originals. The famous cameos that The Muppet franchise is famous for did nothing to cause laughter or surprise. Most appearances were throw away moments that could and perhaps should have been left on the cutting room floor. Jack Black had a few good moments in his role, which was larger than a cameo. Amy Adams and Jason Segel were both quite good in their roles. Amy Adams has already proven how good she is with material like this was Enchanted. So the performances were not the problem with this movie.

The marketing campaign for The Muppets was far more inspired, inventive, and not to mention fun than the movie itself. In fact several shorts that have found their way onto youtube the last few years are exceedingly better than the movie too (I have attached a few of these to the review for your enjoyment).  At the screening there seemed to be a malaise that overtook the children. In fact a nine year old laid across several seats in our row to take a nap. The cheers, claps, and laughs that generally happen with young audiences at screening of films like this didn’t occur at my showing. As of this writing I know I am in the minority in my opinion of this movie. I hope the movie finds success and the sequels return the magic that make these characters memorable returns. Regrettably I did not find much in the way of magic or emotion in The Muppets this go around.

Films like The Muppets – Enchanted, Bee Movie and Any Previous Muppet movie

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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