The Muppets

Opens: Nov. 23

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I have a confession. Since I heard last year that Jason Segel was working on a revamped Muppet movie, I have been basically counting the months, days and hours and minutes until this movie was released. As a kid who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, the Muppets have always been a part of my childhood periphery. It is impossible for me to not smile when I think of Kermit, or Miss Piggy, or my personal favorite, Fozzie Bear. I still remember every word of the Muppet movie song medley I sang in Glee Club when I was in elementary school.  So, with these warm sentimental feelings brimming in my heart, I have been anxiously awaiting this new Muppet film.

Within the first five minutes of the film, I knew that Jason Segel had done the Muppet’s proud. As the opening number (“Life’s a Happy Song”) started with Jason Segel and his Muppet brother Walter, in matching pajamas, brushing their teeth in rhythm to the music, I simultaneously smiled and fought back tears of joy in my eyes.

The premise of the film is simple. Jason Segel plays Gary, a good-natured guy who has lived his whole life in Smalltown, USA. His brother is Walter, a Muppet, who has grown up in adoration of Kermit and his gang. When Gary decides to take his long-time girlfriend Mary (played by the effervescent and charming Amy Adams) to Los Angeles for their 10-year anniversary, Gary decides to take Walter along to see the Muppets studio. On their arrival in Los Angeles, they find that the Muppets studio is in ruins and each of the Muppets have moved on. An evil oil baron (played by the hammy Chris Cooper) is preparing a sneaky scheme to destroy the Muppets studio and drill for oil. With these elements in place, Gary, Mary and Walter go in search of the Muppet gang and attempt to reunite them for one last show to save the Muppet studio.

The film is nearly perfect. It manages to produce some big laughs, but also gently addresses the fact that life has changed since the Muppets heyday in the 70’s and 80’s. In a larger philosophical sense, the movie is a metaphor for dealing with change while still maintaining a fondness for the past. The movie tugs on our heartstrings, but it is never too sappy or sweet. It is the perfect balance of joy, bittersweet and nostalgia.

When reviewing this film, it is imperative to mention the work of Music Supervisor Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords fame). McKenzie has managed to channel the joy of the old school Muppets music and modernized it into incredibly funny, hip and catchy tunes. The songs “Party of One,” “Life’s a Happy Song,” and the absolutely side-splitting “Man or Muppet” are pitch-perfect and flawlessly fit into the great pantheon of Muppet tunes.

Writing this review, I am still smiling thinking about this wonderful film. I honestly cannot think of a greater gift this holiday season than this new Muppet movie. Thank you, Jason Segel for breathing new life into the Muppet franchise. Thank you for giving all of us a reason to remember how much we love the Muppets. But more importantly, as emphasized in the film, thank you allowing the Muppets to give us one of the greatest gifts we could ever ask for, laughter (the third greatest gift, according to Kermit).

Go see this movie. It will make you remember that life is indeed a happy song.

Memorable quote:

“Mah Na Mah Na.” – Everyone

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