Review by Gordon Justesen
Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones
Director: James Bobin
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 103 Minutes
Release Date: March 20, 2012
“If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were reciting some sort of important plot point.”
“I hope so. Otherwise I would've bored half the audience half to death.”
“You mean half the audience is still alive?”
After a twelve year absence, I think we can all say that it was definitely time for a mighty return from Kermit and the gang! And thanks to star and co-writer Jason Segel, who hinted at his passion for the Muppets in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and had long wanted to make his very own Muppet movie, it's never felt greater to be a fan. The Muppets is both a wondrous injection of nostalgia and an endlessly clever and hilarious romp!
The story is told mainly from the point of view of Walter, an actual puppet who had a difficult time making it through life...until the very day he discovered the existence of The Muppet Show on TV. He and his older brother, Gary (Segel) never missed an episode, and it has inspired them to lead nothing of sunny, music-number driven kind of life. And it should be said that each and every one of the musical numbers in this movie are nothing short of wonderful!
Gary is planning to take a vacation to Hollywood to celebrate his tenth anniversary with girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams). Slightly against Mary's wishes, Gary invites Walter along so that he can finally see the Muppet Theater, which they eventually discover is in ruins. It turns out that Statler and Waldorf have sold the theater to oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). Once sold to him, Tex reveals his true intentions...which is to tear down the theater and drill for oil underneath.
Walter hears all of this and goes berserk (in a most hilarious sequence). He tells the news to Gary and Mary, and the three agree to track down Kermit the Frog in an effort to get the original Muppet gang back together for a telethon concert to raise the money needed to stop the destruction of the theater. They do come across the famous green frog, who doesn't think such a task can be pulled off, but Walter convinces him to give it a try.
And through the miracle of a movie montage and cross country road traveling (a Muppet specialty), Kermit, Walter, Gary and Mary embark on a trip to round up the rest of the Muppet Show cast. They locate Fozzie, who's now been reduced to performing nightly with a knockoff Muppet band in Reno, then proceed to pick up Gonzo, who has become a plumbing tycoon, and eventually Animal, who is in an anger management therapy group which also includes Jack Black. Before long, every single one of the original cast are all reunited...except one...that of the diva known as Miss Piggy.
Piggy has relocated to Paris, where she has become Vogue Magazine's editor-in-chief. It takes some effort to convince her to come back, in the form of Muppet Man to be a little more precise. She rejects the offer at first, but her love for both Kermit and, most especially, the spotlight make it ultimately difficult for her to do so.
Essentially, what Segel, co-writer Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin have done here is reestablish The Muppets in their comfort zone (in a way, it combines story elements of The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan). Only here, it's been given a mild realistic touch in that it acknowledges the fact that Kermit and company aren't as popular as they used to be. By applying that, it makes their attempt to raise the money even more of a struggle.
As mentioned earlier, the music numbers here are first rate...just as they should be in a Muppet movie. The songs range from genuinely touching, like the Oscar winning “Man or a Muppet” to incredibly hysterical like that of Amy Adams' performance of the song “Me Party”. But the showstopper of the bunch is the gang singing along to Starship's “We Built This City” as they renovate the theater.
Perhaps the most joyful movie of 2011, The Muppets accomplishes the task of satisfying every last fan of Jim Henson's original creation, while at the same time attracting a whole new audience. Even if you walk into this simply as a fan of Jason Segel or Amy Adams, who are both nothing short of delightful, you are likely to walk away with new found appreciation for Kermit, Piggy and the rest of the gang.
BONUS: Well, this should come as no surprise but the film is loaded with cameo appearances, including Alan Arkin, Dave Grohl and Zach Galifinakis...just to name a few.
The movie is eye catching from the start in terms of colors and bright images, so it goes without saying that Disney has knocked another one out of the park with this fantastic looking Blu-ray release. The movie is about as colorful and splendid-looking as a Muppet movie should be, and viewing it in 1080p makes it even more of a visual delight. Image detail is alive and present from beginning to end, and this is hands down the absolute best form Kermit and company have ever appeared in!
This musically-infused flick gets a big boost in the form of a 7.1 DTS HD track. And just as this presents the Muppets in their best looking form to date...this is most certainly the best they have ever sounded! Every single music number is heard in super-spectacular form (We Built This City has never sounded more phenomenal), and every bit of dialogue delivery is as top notch as can be! Various sound effects are coming from every possible sound angle, which gives the surround sound channels something to work with. Superb in every possible way!
This Blu-ray release from Disney, titled “The Wocka Wocka Value Pack”, comes loaded with some fun and nifty extras. For starters, we get a commentary track with actor/co-writer Jason Segel, co-writer Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin, which is an intriguing listen for longtime Muppets fans, which these guys certainly are. There's also a couple of well made and quite funny featurettes including “Scratching the Surface: A Hasty Examination of the Making of The Muppets”, which has a good deal of fun with the proceedings as the title would indicate. We also get “A Little Screen Test on the Way to the Read Through”, which has The Muppets putting their own spin on this filmmaking process. In addition, there's also “The Longest Blooper Reel Ever Made (in Muppet History**) **We Think”, which as Muppets and cast members alike cracking up on the set. Rounding out the extras are “Explaining Evil: The Full Tex Richman Song”, Deleted Scenes, Unreleased Theatrical Spoof Trailers and a most appealing extra titled Disney Intermission, which you can find by simply pausing the movie.
And it doesn't stop there. Also included in this 3 Disc Combo Pack is a DVD copy of the movie and a third disc containing a Digital Copy...and a code that will allow you to download the complete soundtrack to the movie!
The Muppets is a true joy of a movie. Hands down the best entry in the film series since The Muppets Take Manhattan, and it succeeds in appealing to both lifelong fans of the Muppets and those who are just now discovering them. I certainly hope that this results in future cinematic mishaps with Kermit and friends!