Mormon Daddy Reviews
Guest Contributor: Josh Tenney
Last year around Thanksgiving, I was new Dad with a five-month-old daughter named Anna. Together as a family, we ventured out to the movie theater for what would be our daughter’s first movie: Disney’s Tangled. Being only 5, Anna couldn’t quite grasp the plot, but she behaved herself fairly well.
Now that she’s a bit older and we have the Blu-ray at home, she’s become completely obsessed with the movie. This year, again in late November, we headed out for Anna’s second movie theater experience with Disney’s new movie, “The Muppets.” And while she still couldn’t follow the simple plot, she was enthralled with the music, laughter, and familiar puppetry (thanks to Sesame Street).
Could “The Muppets” do what “Tangled” did before it?
Over the last several years, Disney has been on a shopping spree. Recently, Pixar was purchased by the mouse and now Marvel is owned by Disney. But back in 2004, Disney acquired Kermit and the gang. Since then, the attempts to bring the Muppets back to mainstream have fizzled with duds like “A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa” and the awful “Muppet’s Wizard of Oz.”
Jason Segel, who also co-wrote “The Muppets,” stars as Gary, a happy, simple small town guy. Literally. He’s from Smalltown, USA, population 102. Gary’s brother, Walter, is a very manly muppet (he’s three feet tall and made of felt) and Gary’s best friend.
Their adventure begins when Gary takes his long-time girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) on a trip to Los Angeles. Walter, the world’s biggest Muppets fan, is ecstatic to join them – only because the Muppet Studios is located in LA. Amy Adams brings the same charisma and charm she brought to “Enchanted.’ And like in Enchanted, musical numbers seem to pop up around her like a flash mob.
The giddy, joyful opening number “Life’s a Happy Song” lets you know right away that this movie is not for cynics. It’s for the happy-go-lucky Muppet inside each of us. While visiting the Muppet Studios, Walter is traumatized when he overhears plans of the evil Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to bulldoze the studios and drill for oil.
Walter finds and warns Kermit the Frog of the impending disaster, and after Kermit’s moving song “Pictures in My Head,” about how he misses his friends and their good ol’ days, Kermit agrees to try to do something about it. Together with Kermit, the Smalltown trio set out to get the old Muppet Gang back together again and save the studio the only way they know how – by putting on a show, this time, as a telethon.
This is when the movie gains the wackiness, heart, and humor in the tradition of the classic Muppet movies. In keeping with that tradition, a road trip ensues as they find Gonzo, Fozzie, Animal, several star cameos and eventually Miss Piggy. Not only do they find the most popular Muppets, but it seems by the end of the movie every Muppet that ever existed finds its way to the telethon.
Die-hard Muppet fans will enjoy seeing long-lost characters. I did miss seeing more of my favorite two Muppets, Pepe the King Prawn and Rizzo the Rat, but I understand why these wisecracking, more edgy characters were given background roles. This Muppet movie aimed to share a feeling of warmth, nostalgia, and unbridled optimism, with just a touch of the edginess the Muppets are known to exhibit.
“The Muppets” indeed captures the feeling of the original “The Muppet Movie.” With winning music, laugh-out-loud moments and the heart of our favorite fuzzy friends in the right place, Disney may just get the new franchise they’ve been shopping for.
On a personal level, only time will tell if Anna will become as obsessed with the Muppets at home on blu-ray as she did with her first movie. But if she does, I won’t mind. I’ll be singing along and enjoying life’s third-greatest gift: laughter.
Rated PG for some mild rude humor
Opening Nov. 23, 2011