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Student Review Of ‘The Muppets’

The Muppets are icons in American culture. They teach important lessons to their viewers. Naturally, we all take away something from watching their films. What gift did you get from your viewing? Children? Ice cream? Those are both plausible possibilities since the Muppets believe that those are the two most important gifts to receive in this world. However, seeing as your local cinema (hopefully) wasn’t handing out babies and ice cream cones with your ticket purchase, it is to be assumed that you came away with the third most important thing in the world: laughter!

The Muppet's froggy leader: Kermit.

Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) is the human star, writer and puppet enthusiast that got the ball rolling on this much needed reboot for the Muppet franchise. Segel plays Gary, along with his other human co-star and future fiancé is named Mary, played by Amy Adams (The Fighter, Enchanted). Together they travel with Gary’s “puppet” brother and Muppet enthusiast, Walter, to go visit the old Muppet Theater. When they get there, the trio overhears Tex Richman the oil tycoon, played by Chris Cooper (American Beauty, The Bourne Identity), planning to tear down Muppet Theater through some political contract wrangling to dig for his precious liquid money. Walter, Gary and Mary go and find Kermit the Frog and convince him to gather up the old gang to put on one last show to raise enough money to save the theater. Aided by the reluctant television executive Veronica, played by Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation, I Love You Man), all of the Muppets pull together to make a great show in hopes of saving their theater.

There are so many human feelings and emotions packed into a movie about puppets.

There are so many human feelings and emotions packed into a movie about puppets. The lessons really shine through. Gary realizes that he needs to grow up and not be a “muppet of a man” anymore. Mary, his true love has been standing right in front of him for such a long time, but he never took their relationship seriously. His relationship with his brother Walter keeps getting in the way of Mary. That change only comes with Walter changing himself. Walter feels so attached and dependent on his brother that anything outside of their hometown of Smalltown, USA is scary when taken on alone. Through the help of Kermit, a truly wonderful song, some whistling, and some encouraging words from his brother, Walter becomes his own puppet.

See The Muppets Movie Trailer Here

 

One of the best lessons to take from The Muppets is the most blatantly obvious obstacle to overcome, which the characters confront throughout the entire movie. They are old news. Today’s kids don’t know who the Muppets are, and the rest of America just grew up. It takes a lot of encouragement from Walter and Gary to get Kermit to gather up the gang and put on a show. They have no audience for the first part of their show except for one comical hobo. However, as the show goes on (as it must) more and more fans find themselves drawn back in to the love and the comedy that the Muppets once showed the world. Their comedy is so pure and fun for all ages, it is hard not to love them. By the end of the night, the Muppets realize the money doesn’t even matter anymore. Their fans never truly left them. They were just waiting for them to come back on stage for their next show.

Related: Podcast of NPR Interview with Jason Segel 

So many Muppets!

Segel’s Gary and Walter have great chemistry between a man-child and his little brother puppet. Adams’ Mary truly tests her patients with Gary and plays the struggling supportive girlfriend until her party of one leaves, forcing Gary’s hand to grow up. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, Statler and Waldorf, Sam the Eagle, Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew all return to familiar form in their funny and heartfelt antics. However, many of the laughs come from the plethora of celebrity cameos. Jack Black (Tenacious D, Kung Fu Panda) is their bound and unwilling host, straight from anger management camp. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, Doogie Howser M.D.) has quite the zinger when he is answering the phones and collecting donations at the show. He is heard telling a caller, “Why, I don’t know why I’m not hosting this.” Zach Galifianakis played Hobo Joe, apparently a fan of the Muppets, but probably just a fan of some heat and shelter. John Krasinksi, Sarah Silverman, Donald Glover, Emily Blunt, Ken Jeong, Selena Gomez and David Grohl all have tiny cameos that whip by in seconds with little or no words. However it is still a treat to see them in passing in such a funny film. Yet the best cameo of them all came when you were least expecting it. Spoiler alert: Cursor Over Text to Read is revealed to be Walter’s human counterpart in the mirror, as seen in the “Man or Muppet” song in the film. The reaction in the theater was booming. That was easily the funniest part of the film. A better choice could not have been made for casting the human Walter.

This film will make you tear up, laugh, smile, sing, whistle and wish you were a Muppet.

I was most surprised and excited by the number of songs in the film. I downloaded the soundtrack for it before I started writing the review and I will keep on listening until I finish. The songs are great. The opening number, “Life’s A Happy Song” is a perfect beginning to this fantastic film. It shows the deep brotherly bond that Walter and Gary share, but also foreshadows Gary and Mary’s proposal and Walter’s official proposition to join the Muppets. That is why it makes a great finale song as well! It is also catchy and upbeat with a great dance number to kick start the movie. The next noteworthy song is Kermit’s moving reminiscent of the good times he had with his buddies in, “Pictures in My Head.” Mary and Miss Piggy’s song, “Me Party” takes us through their independent women phase while still showing some ray of hope that their men get their act together. Gary and Walter’s duet, “Man or Muppet” shows the two’s inner-struggle with finding their identity and how to move forward in their life as two separate beings. And of course, there is the iconic Muppet song, “The Rainbow Connection.”

Related: Student Review Of ‘The Descendants’

The Muppets is a must-see movie. I saw it on Thanksgiving and found it very appropriate for the holiday. It filled me with hope and happiness, as well as having me tap my foot along to the songs when I wasn’t bursting out laughing. This film will make you tear up, laugh, smile, sing, whistle and wish you were a Muppet.  I’ll give it an A

Release Date: Nov. 23rd

Rating: PG

Runtime: 98 min.

Alex Dodson | Bright Futura Columnist