Movie Time: The Muppets
The Muppets tells the story of a two brothers, Gary and Walter. Walter is a Muppet and the Muppets biggest fan. Gary is a man and is planning to take his girlfriend Mary to California celebrate their anniversary. Gary brings Walter along to California and the three soon embark on an adventure to help the Muppets with a crisis.
The Muppets was written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stollet and was directed by James Bobin. It features performances by Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper and Rashida Jones.
She Said: The Muppets
When I was a little girl I liked the Muppets. I thought they were cool and funny. But, I was a little afraid of them too (especially Sweetums). So I always loved The Muppet Babies and Sesame Street better. I just felt safer watching them then and I thought they were more interesting. I haven’t been much of a Muppet fan for years now. Well, I suppose technically I am because am still a huge Sesame Street fan and I would buy The Muppet Babies on DVD. But, I don’t like the whole weird musical number and pigs in space stuff. I knew RJ really wanted to see this movie so I watched it to make him happy but I could have easily skipped it.
The plot is what you would expect from a movie like this. Blah, blah, blah something is in danger and the Muppets have to put on a show to save it. I was much more interested in the story of the Gary and Walter, the brothers who were the real stars of the movie. I wanted to know why one was a man and one was a Muppet? Is this some weird anti-adoption statement or something? They make a big deal of each not fitting into each other’s world but they are really actually compatible, if a little clingy. I also wish we learned more about Mary. How does she know how to do all the cool stuff that she does? I found myself wanting to know how I could find out what the back-story either created by Amy Adams or the writers who made her who she was. The script is plagued (in my opinion) by too many expected jokes and the same silliness that these films have used over and over. Occasionally, jokes such as “traveling by map” are actually kind of cute but this in my mind is the rare exception not the rule.
It’s hard to talk about the acting in the movie because a lot of it is done by puppets. Lucky for you I really love puppetry and can do some so I will talk about it. I really liked Walter because he seemed so genuine. You could look at his body language and see his happy, hopeful little heart shining through. I have always enjoyed Miss Piggy as a character but I really feel without being performed by Frank Oz she lost a lot of the glamour/tough mix that makes her such a neat character. But the Muppet who gave me the most problems was Fozzie. His voice wasn’t right. The vocal choices that were made weren’t particularly y strong and they also faded when he was forced to speak for too long. I kept thinking I was hearing bits of someone’s real voice not a performer giving life to this character. It was really disappointing to watch a movie that had such a poor realization of a fairly prominent character.
The human acting in the movie was mixed as well. I really love Amy Adams I don’t think I’ve ever not thought she was wonderful in anything I’ve seen her in. She was adorable and she was very consistent in her characterization. Even though the script is really stilted she still showed a great range. I know I’m probably one of the few people in America who doesn’t like How I Met Your Mother. But I really thought that Jason Segel did a great job in this movie. He was able to be both silly and sensitive. The person who drove me craziest was Chris Cooper. He’s such a good actor but this performance was really bad. I didn’t believe the rap at all. And his performance felt one dimensional even for this stilted script.
I loved Amy Adams costumes! I thought all of her clothes were so cute!
I love musicals! I did like The Muppets Take Manhattan when I was little and I still sing “Together Again” and “Somebody’s Getting Married”. The songs in this were horrible though! I liked “Life’s a Happy Song”; I thought it was really cute. It can get stuck in your head really badly but it’s cute. “Me Party” was so annoying I felt bad that Amy Adams had to sing it. And don’t even get me started on “Let’s Talk About Me” no one needs to make fun of Justin Beiber or rap in general if you thought this song was funny or well done. Even though it was supposed to be a silly song it wasn’t smartly executed enough to be truly clever.
The thing that made me the saddest in the whole movie was the song “Man or Muppet”. Ever since Three Six Mafia won an Oscar several years ago it has been my go to “how did they do something so stupid as to give an award to that” example. I have a new one now! I hate this song! It just seems so lazily written and I really didn’t even understand what had changed when it was over. When a song is annoying and doesn’t clearly affect the stasis it’s just too much to deal with. I appreciate the song isn’t dirty or have profanity but I really, really hated it.
I didn’t like it at all. I hoped I would be pleasantly surprised but I really just thought it was too long and too silly! And I’ve had that stupid “Man or Muppet” song stuck in my head for days! It’s really bad when you are tormented by a song you hate from a movie you didn’t like.
He Said: The Muppets
It’s been quite some time since the Muppets have been in a major motion picture all their own. Disney’s two previous attempts were adaptations of classic stories, so this is the first outing from that studio to take place in the Muppets universe. I was really excited about this movie being a big Muppets fan when I was a kid. They were very popular then, they were puppets, and I was a kid, you do the math. Rebooting a franchise can be very hard to accomplish. I really went into this movie rooting for it to be good. While it was an enjoyable experience, The Muppets doesn’t live up to the original.
You’ll see plenty of the trademark silliness, and cornball humor that people remember from the Muppets. Some things happen for little apparent reason, but they’re laughed away in story, so you don’t care so much. That’s part of the charm of the old series, and it is definitely present here. That’s what made this movie enjoyable to me. You also see plenty of celebrity cameos, some that are funny, and others that are just name-dropping.
The acting was very well done. Jason Segel and Amy Adams play their roles with a great aww shucks quality that really makes you feel that they could live somewhere named Smalltown. The new Muppet Walter is a great outcast character that just about everyone can relate to. The relationship between these three characters is great to watch, and the real heart of the film. At the same time, while human helpers are nothing new to this franchise, it felt off. They were a little too cartoony, and the point of the humans is to feel as if these puppets exist in the real world. Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller wrote the humans as if they could appear in the world of the Muppets, which feels backwards.
The end really nose dives into levels of plot problems that would make Jim Henson very sad. It’s almost as if Segel and Stoller were out of jokes, and decided instead of ending the movie properly they’d just wedge in what they had left. I don’t want to ruin it, but there are some very convenient things that happen in the end that aren’t believable, even in that world. I also did not like the subtle redesign of some of the characters here. Something’s just not right with most of them that makes them feel flat.
Here the Muppets are reimagined as sparkly clean. I remember fondly the Muppets that had a certain level of grit to them. A real worldliness as opposed to a cartoon. They were edgy. In The Muppets, edginess is portrayed as bad, and the Muppets themselves are presented as safe and lovable. This misses the point of what the franchise was. The Muppet Show recalled a vaudeville sensibility, but pushed forward. That would have been the bigger challenge here. Today, “edgy” comedy means nasty comedy, and they do address that some here, but in so doing, the Muppets themselves lose all of their initial edge.