The Muppets (2011)
★★★ / ★★★★
Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) were supposed to go to Hollywood to celebrate their tenth anniversary of being in a serious relationship, but considering that Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) was very close to Gary, leaving his brother–who happened to be a puppet–just wouldn’t seem right. The trio headed to Los Angeles by bus, leaving Smalltown for a bit of adventure. During a tour in the derelict Muppet Studio, Walter overheard Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), an oil baron, discussing of his excitement about finally getting his hands on the property, demolishing it, and extracting valuable oil from underneath. Within two weeks, if the Muppets could not come up with ten million dollars to buy back the building, their legacy would literally be a pile of dust. While I didn’t grow up watching Kermit (Steve Whitmire), Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson), Gonzo (Dave Goelz), and the rest of the gang, I found “The Muppets,” written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, to be very funny because the jokes’ punchlines had a self-awareness and there was always something new to poke fun of whether it was a Muppet’s quirk or a commentary about us and how we, unlike the beloved puppets some of us grew up watching, tend to take ourselves too seriously. While the film was equipped with easy slapstick humor and bathroom jokes for the little ones, most teens and adults would find that the script was unexpectedly witty and charming. For example, have you ever wondered if the really energetic back-up dancers in big musical numbers ever got tired performing and putting on silly grins just in case the camera went for a dire close-up? What had the Muppets been up to ever since they lost popularity? Were people and Muppets at all suspicious that Gary and Walter were actually biological brothers? The film provided a range of answers while, in some cases, it simply asked, “Why not?” The picture was at its most creative when the gang was back together to do a televised fundraiser. From musical numbers, incidental jokes, and downright weird performances, it was impossible to resist the Muppets’ charm. I wished, however, that there were more scenes dedicated to Kermit, Walter, Gary, and Mary attempting to persuade the former Muppets to get together and raise money. As it turned out, the Muppets didn’t do a very good job with keeping in touch with one another for many years. Kermit’s sudden appearance in their lives, some of them actually leading successful ones, being enough to be fully convinced that a reunion was an excellent idea felt, at times, too superficial. The only one who really had to think about it, given her hilarious flair for the dramatic, was Miss Piggy, sporting an Anna Wintour haircut and ‘tude. Nevertheless, “The Muppets,” based on the characters by Jim Henson and directed by James Bobin, moved at an enthusiastic pace, leaving us no time to think about its inconsistencies. But then again why focus on the imperfections when it was there was a storm of positivity outside? According to the similarly addictive and adorable “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain,” the fool looks at a finger that points at the sky.