Sunday, June 30, 2013

Movie Review: The Muppets (2011)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Great to see the Muppets again, many jokes work
Cons: Needed more humor and punch in the second half
The Bottom Line
Yes, many fun parts
But slows down in second half
Not as good as hoped

"I Always Dreamed We'd Be Back Here."  "Dreams?  Those Were Nightmares."

Having become a big Muppets fan in the last few years, The Muppets was a must see on my holiday movie list for 2011.  And somehow November and December came and went without me making it to see the movie in the theater.  So, I made a rare exception to my normal rule and bought the movie on Blu-Ray.  Unfortunately, the movie is slightly disappointing.

The story is told to us by Walter (voiced by Peter Linz).  Growing up, he's different from other boys, but he's close with his brother.  It's not until he finds The Muppet Show that he feels like he truly belongs.  In fact, he becomes obsessed with the show and their biggest fan.

Flash forward to now and Walter still lives with his brother Gary (Jason Segel). Garyis taking his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) toLos Angelesas a 10th anniversary present, and as a surprise he has a ticket for Walter as well.  Walter can't wait to visit Muppet Studios, but the place is all but deserted.  Hiding in Kermit's old office, Walter hears a plot by Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to destroy the studio and drill for the oil underneath.

The trio head to find Kermit, figuring he'll know what to do.  He's reluctant to get the gang back together for a show to save the studio, but eventually, he's talked into it.  Will that work?

Right off the bat, this movie had one strike against it.  The plot was recycled from the made for TV movie It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.  Okay, some of the plot points were different, but it's still felt like a rip off to me.

Still, the movie started out well.  There were lots of touching moments as Walter struggled to fit into life in the real world and then we looked back at the Muppets' career.  You felt the sense of loss Kermit was dealing with as he thought about his friends.

And there were some great moments of comedy.  I'm not going to spoil the gags, but they are perfectly in line with the feel of the show over the years.

Plus there are the cameos.  Whether as characters or themselves, there are tons of well known people in the movie, sometimes in blink and you miss them moments.  I had a lot of fun with that.  There are also plenty of jokes at 80's pop culture, which was lots of fun.

And I'm not going to fault the cast, human or Muppet.  All the performances were perfect the this film.

However, the movie felt like it was trying too hard.  What it was trying for, I'm not quite sure.  The jokes weren't quite there to keep things going.  The story became a bit too predictable and lost it's fun in the final act.  And don't get me started on the ending.  I don't quite get that one at all.

I think part of the problem is that the Muppets work best when they are creating jokes.  Here, they had to carry a movie, including serious moments.  That's not their real strength.  Frankly, I think the movie needed more laughs.

That point was driven home to me when I was watching the bonus feature on the Blu-Ray.  The behind the scenes featurette had some info in it, but it was also just plain silly.  Same with the bloopers.  And the spoof trailers were a riot.  If the movie had included more of that kind of stuff, it would have been great.

Yes, I enjoyed The Muppets.  But it wasn't nearly as good as it could have been.  More laughs would have definitely made for a better film.

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