The return of "The Muppets"

Nov. 26, 2011, 8:22 p.m. | By Mimi Verdonk | 12 years, 2 months ago

Little puppets hit the big screen

Dancing puppets, sing-a-longs and cheesy jokes are exactly what you remember if you were a fan of "The Muppets" as a child. In fact, nothing seems to have changed from the cartoon and television show, whose most recent release was 12 years ago, to its translation to the big screen. That is, everything is the same except for your age. The jokes that were hilarious at five are still snicker worthy at 17, and the songs you jammed to as kid are just as catchy more than a decade later. "The Muppets" manages to warm your heart, and despite its corniness, remind you of the good old days.

"The Muppets" tells the story of Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), a puppet who grew up with his human brother Gary (Jason Segel) and always felt ostracized and out of place. This all changes when Walter watches "The Muppets," and realizes there are others like him. When Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) go to Los Angeles, CA., they bring Walter along to see the Muppet Theater. The theater has been abandoned for years and is at risk of being destroyed by money-hungry tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), who has discovered oil there. To save the show he always loved and create a place he can finally call home, Walter sets off an a quest to get all the Muppets to put on a show for the last time. But how hard will it be to unite the long lost friends, and what will it take to get Americans to love the puppets that were once household names?

"The Muppets" has the cast of the century. Besides great voicing from Matt Vogel (who voices Crazy Harry) and Steve Whitmire (Kermit the Frog), both of whom have been puppeteers for the Muppets since the 1990s, "The Muppets" has a star studded cast. Cameos are made by Zach Galifianakis, Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopie Goldberg, Jack Black and many others. The cast may seem random, but all of the characters work well together and add to the movie's humor. Mixing today's stars with the animated characters of the past blends together acting styles and comedy in a way that is enjoyable for all family members.

The movie lacks the fancy special effects everyone has grown used to in this 3D era, with just hand puppets and a little bit of green screen. "The Muppets" doesn't take itself too seriously, which allows the movie to get away with using very little in the way of glamour. In fact, after one scene in the movie where a small explosion occurs, Fozzie Bear, known for his trademark "waka waka", shouts out, "Wow, that was an expensive looking explosion! I can't believe we had that in the budget."

Though the soundtrack only uses six songs, three of which are originals from the Muppets of yesteryear, the music is unbelievably catchy. It's rare that a song with the refrain "Am I a man, or a Muppet?," would have you hooked, but with the Muppets, it seems like there is no such thing as impossible. Puppets and humans interacting in the same world, stopping the bad guys and bursting into song hasn't been this good since, well, the last "Muppets."

The movie's only downfall was some sporadic, awkward humor. Jason Segel, who co-wrote the movie with Nicholas Stoller, clearly intended for some jokes to be just so bad they were good, but sometimes the badness was just that: bad. Most of the time however the humor was smile-worthy, if not chuckle inducing. Segel manages to mix both adult and juvenile humor so that viewers of all ages can get a good laugh.

As the Holiday season gets into full swing and families are looking for good group activities, seeing "The Muppets" definitely deserves a place on everyone's to-do list. Happy, humorous and all around heartwarming, "The Muppets" is a memorable movie that is sure to have you whistling for days to come.

"The Muppets" (98 minutes) is rated PG for mild crude humor. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Tags: Muppets

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