I was lucky enough to catch a screening of The Muppets in London with a group of Muppet fans who were brilliant enough to write their own ending and get hold of tickets. We then spent the next five hours wandering around London discussing the movie in minute detail. I have not stopped smiling since. Thank you so much for one of the best days of my life. - Beau
"Your fans never left you, the world hasn't forgotten!"
That first part is certainly more than true. I can testify to that. Having been involved deep within the Muppet fanworld during even the quietest times of the Muppet existence, I know that there was never a time when fans of the Muppets were not eagerly excited, awaiting new projects or examining old productions with a fine-tooth comb (or should that be: brushing up on old productions with a fine tooth-comb, ba-doom-ch!). However, I cannot be as confident about the second part of this quote. Yes, you often see someone wearing a vintage Muppet t-shirt walking down the street, and although the word "Muppet" strikes a memory chord somewhere inside everyone you meet, that chord has been long buried under a ton of other priorities, fandoms, and general forgetting of the bunch of characters that made you laugh as a kid (or as a grownup). Certainly everyone that I know brings out The Muppet Christmas Carol once a year... but I am not as sure as Walter is when he states "The world hasn't forgotten," in the new Muppet movie.
Which is exactly why this movie starts in the place where it does. Without the Muppets. This is as much a movie about loving, hard-working, interesting human characters living their dreams as it is about the Muppets getting back together to put on a show. Which is why non-fans will be able to connect with it without necessarily appreciating all the other levels available to latch onto in this movie. I went in expecting to be irritated with Gary, Mary, and Walter for using up the first few scenes of the film, thinking that I wanted the Muppets to have every possible second of screen time. But within just a few short scenes I was laughing, awwwing and totally in love with these three characters. In fact, I thought to myself, "You know, this would make a great sitcom... A guy, his Muppet housemate and his girlfriend heading to the Big City, someone should get on that!" And that was the thing that I was least expecting for this movie, that the universe and scope of this movie was as much created for Gary, Mary, and Walter as it was for the Muppets themselves. (What I am trying to put across is that humans were not shoehorned into this movie, ala Ashanti or the Studio DC Disney Stars, but rather that the movie was ABOUT these humans and their interactions within the Muppet world... which is our world.)
Now that is not to say for a second that this is not a Muppet movie. It is, in every sense of the phrase. It is a Muppet movie about Muppets, starring Muppets, connected to Muppets, written by Muppet fans, and involving Muppet fans. So completely filled with the Muppets is this movie that if you were to take away the Muppets, you'd have no movie. Similarly, if you were to take away Gary, Mary, and Walter, you'd also have no movie. Such is the symbiotic relationship between those two story lines.
I must also stress that this is also a Muppet movie. And that is the part that gets me the most excited when trying to put across what this movie is. It is not a TV special or a straight-to-DVD release, it is a MOVIE, and it moves, lives, and breathes in the way that a movie should with space to explore the world of the Muppets more deeply than they have in many years (I would say since The Muppets Take Manhattan). Recent productions have been more of a snap-shot of the Muppets solving one simple issue (save the theater, return to the swamp, get letters to Santa) while this movie introduces a richer tapestry of storylines that will keep fans discussing and debating for years to come. These storylines include (but are not limited to) Walter's trip to LA to meet his idols, Gary and Mary's relationship being constantly interrupted by his brother Walter, Kermit's fall from fame and how he comes to deal with this, Kermit and Miss Piggy's relationship as it enters new territories, an oil magnate trying to destroy the theater, putting on a show with only a few days to rehearse, finding a celebrity star, Animal's anger management and The Moopets Revenge. (Great sequel title, by the way... listen up Disney!) All these storylines intersect and develop one another. As one story line finishes, another begins, until after an hour and a half of the movie we have spent a good long time in the world of the Muppets, surrounded by them, drenched in them, breathing their air. I know that some have criticized the movie for having too many less-developed plot lines rather than one, but for me this is a return to classic movie making where a movie doesn't explain every last detail but instead gives you a richer breadth of material to take away from.
I would love to chat in depth about all the things that I loved within the movie, but I know I would risk giving away too much, so instead I will wrap this review up with my overall feeling and then expound on a few things with one-word answers.
I am prepared to take my credibility on the line and give this movie a 5 out of 5 rating, not because it is a perfect movie in every sense of the word, but because it fulfills everything that it promised. We were essentially promised something for non-fans (1 star for Gary and Mary and Walter's development), something for fans (1 star for more Muppet references than you could ever collect in one place), comedy (1 star for amazing double-takes, one-liners, sight-gags, and falling over), drama (1 star for the villains, The Moopets, for making us cry at Fozzie's plight, and at making us fall in love with Miss Piggy and Kermit all over again) and music (1 star for life being a happy song, the pictures that will remain in my head, and the me that will be partying to these tunes for months to come). Five stars, out of five.
Some more quick thoughts:
- Walter = Winning (He won me over and it took all my strength not to buy the plush immediately after)
- Gary and Mary = Necessary (See comments above)
- Kermit = Depth (I appreciate him on a whole new level now)
- Miss Piggy = Composure (Such grownup writing for her, unbelievably good!)
- Muppet Show within a show = Unbelievable (My jaw was in my lap for the ENTIRE second half of this movie, I kept thinking, "Is this real? Are they really showing us a rehearsal of The Muppet theme tune, in a cinema, in the UK, in 2012??")
- Cameos = Sufficient (They did not steal the spotlight, but were more than fine in their own way)
- Jack Black = Brilliant (Will say no more for the sake of spoilers)
- Fozzie = Central (His voice was the only one that I struggled with, actually, I'll admit it, but it was pure delight to see him as a central character again!)
- Miss Poogy = Mean (Yet hilarious)
- Tex Richman = Evil (Yes, evil)
- Uncle Deadly = Breakout (I am certain he'll be a breakout star after this)
- Scooter, Rowlf, The Electric Mayhem, and Camilla = Back!!! (Yes, they are all back baaaaaaaby! LOVE!)
- Music = Grin-worthy (I cannot stop humming the tunes and they make me smile. A LOT!)
- Overall = Surprising (Yes, the movie surprised me on so many levels that even now I'm struggling to describe it in any better way.)
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com