You want to know how to prove a franchise has a lasting impression on it’s audience? When you can have a whole theater full of people, both adults and children alike, singing along to “Rainbow Connection”. Well, I don’t know if the whole theater was singing but I know that when my friends and I went to see it, we definitely were. After 12 years, I was happy to see the Muppets back in theaters and all of the previews and joke previews for this movie really had me looking forward to seeing it. So here is today’s movie, The Muppets.
The plot: Walter is a Muppet that lives in Smalltown with his human brother Gary. Growing up was rough on Walter since he was different from everyone else but one night, Gary rented a video of The Muppets Show and Walter became an instant fan of The Muppets. Years later, Gary and Walter are both adults and living together. Walter has just woken up from a nightmare where the Muppets ask him to join them but he is unable to. Gary is leaving that day to take his girlfriend Mary to Los Angeles for their 10 year anniversary and Walter asks him to get an autograph from Muppet Studios but Gary surprises Walter by saying that he got Walter a ticket to go with them. The two get dressed and head over to pick up Mary from the school she teaches at but while Mary seems to be happy with bringing Walter with them so long as they spend their actual anniversary together, she feels like Gary is unable to be fully committed to their relationship due to his devotion to Walter. Arriving in L.A., the three head to Muppet Studios first to find that the buildings are all run down. They take the tour but Walter breaks from the group and decides to look inside Kermit’s old office. When he hears someone coming, he hides under a table as Waldorf and Statler speaking with Tex Richman, an oil tycoon who says he plans on buying the studios in order to turn it into a museum but Statler and Waldorf mention that according to the contract Kermit had signed years ago, they still have two weeks to raise $10 million to buy the studio back. When the two men leave, Tex tells his two subordinates, Bobo the Bear and Uncle Deadly, that there is oil under the studio and he plans on tearing it down in order to get to it. When they leave, a traumatized Walter runs screaming from the place. Walter tells Gary and Mary what he overheard and they agree to help him find Kermit. They find Kermit’s house and after Walter fails to get over the electric fence, they see Kermit approaching them. Kermit invites them inside and Walter and the others tell Kermit what Tex Richman is planning but Kermit doesn’t have the money to buy back the studio and is hesitant to try and get the group back together but after Walter says that Kermit is his hero, Kermit agrees and asks them to help him. They find Fozzie performing with a Muppets tribute group called the Moopets, Gonzo running a plumbing business that he destroys to rejoin the group, and Animal at an anger management session. Collecting the rest of the Muppets in a montage, Kermit says that they have everyone but the others notice that Miss Piggy isn’t there and Kermit reluctantly agrees to go get her. They head to Paris, France and use their “Muppet Man” disguise to get in to see Piggy but she tells them she needs to speak with Kermit alone before she decides anything. Kermit and Piggy walk along the street and talk about the last time they were together and Piggy says that she won’t go back with them. Needing to find a replacement for Piggy, they reluctantly get Miss Poogy, from the Moopets, to fill in as they try to get a show on TV. All of the TV execs say no but when one of the shows on a CDE is put on hold, the executive allows the Muppets to have the 2 hour time slot to put on their show. The Muppets head to the theater and start working on cleaning it up and Gary volunteers himself, Walter, and Mary to help but Mary looks reluctant to do so. As everyone is cleaning, Gary notices that Walter is having a lot of fun being with the Muppets and starts to feel left out. Finishing for the night, Gary makes plans to keep working the next day and tells Mary to go ahead and go sight-seeing without him as he is reluctant to leave Walter. The next day, the Muppets start trying to rehears and are surprised to see Piggy has shown up to help but Miss Poogy says that she will be back. The rehearsals are terrible and Floyd tells Kermit that they can’t keep time without a drummer but Animal refuses to drum, having been told not to by Jack Black. When Veronica, the CDE executive, says that she will cancel the show if they don’t have a celebrity host, and Kermit is unable to find one, the Muppets go see Tex Richman to see if he will give them back the studio. Tex refuses and informs them that the contract doesn’t only contain the rights to the studio, but the Muppets name as well, which he plans to transfer to the Moopets, his new business associates. When the group asks what they should do next, Kermit says he doesn’t know and walks off so Piggy decides to take charge. Meanwhile, Mary has been sight-seeing all alone and when Gary meets with her at the hotel, she asks where they are going for dinner that night and Gary says he doesn’t care and Mary gets upset and walks out of the room. Gary heads to the theater to talk with Walter and finds Walter trying to figure out a talent, as Kermit asked Walter to do an act in the show. The two begin arguing as each one feels like his life is more important and Gary realizes that he forgot all about his anniversary and heads back to the hotel only to find that Mary had gone back home so Gary heads there and apologizes for taking her for granted. Meanwhile, Piggy leads some of the other Muppets to kidnap Jack Black and go tell Kermit, who is initially upset but realizes it is their one chance to save the theater so he agrees. The Muppets get ready to do the show but Veronica is upset because there is nobody in the audience. The show starts and Gary and Mary, watching from Smalltown, see the empty theater and decide to go back and help. As the show progresses, people start calling in donations and showing up to the theater to watch. Walter is nervous about performing on stage and when it is his time to go on stage, he panics and runs off. Meanwhile, Tex Richman tries to sabotage the show by cutting the power but Mary and Gary arrive and get the power back on. When Tex tries to sabotage the broadcast antenna, Uncle Deadly stops him and knocks him off the roof. The show continues, with Kermit and Piggy reconciling before they start their duet of “Rainbow Connection”, and Animal finally decides to drum during the finale of the song. When they realize that the show has run short and they haven’t reached their goal, Kermit and the other Muppets try to come up with an idea during the commercial break. Gary looks for Walter and finds him hiding in the basement and convinces him to believe in himself. Walter goes on stage and begins whistling a song and receives a standing ovation from the audience. Outside, Tex Richman uses a car to knock down the telephone pole, causing the Muppets to fall short of their goal. He gets on stage and says that he won and kicks the Muppets out of the theater. As the Muppets gather in the lobby, Kermit tells them that they can start again now that they are together again. The exit the theater and find the street crowded with their fans cheering them. Kermit invites Walter to join them as they sing a finale. After the finale, Gary proposes to Mary, while Tex Richman is struck by a bowling ball that had been stuck on Gonzo’s fingers and ends up giving the Muppets back their studio and rights to their name, and Kermit and Piggy decide to try and stay out of the limelight while they enjoy their life together.
The Muppets was highly praised by the critics, earning a certified fresh rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Clever, charming, and heartfelt, The Muppets is a welcome big screen return for Jim Henson’s lovable creations that will both win new fans and delight longtime devotees.” There was some criticism from some of the past Muppet performers, particularly Frank Oz, who felt the characters were too safe and should have been more cutting edge but was glad that it reintroduced people to the Muppets, even though they had never left. The movie won an Academy Award for best song with “Man Or Muppet” and was a box office hit, earning over $165 million off of a $45 million budget, making it the first movie in the series to earn over $100 million (unadjusted for inflation).
This was such a great movie to watch and a great way to introduce the Muppets to a new generation of fans. The acting was really good between Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and Chris Cooper and they all did a great job interacting with the Muppets. The story was really good and did a good job of mixing an original story with some elements from the very first movie, such as Sweetums being left behind and chasing after the car during the montage, similar to him chasing after Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Camilla in The Muppet Movie. The writing was very good, using a great mix of recent pop culture references along with some of the more dated references from the Muppets to make for a very funny blend of humor. The puppetry work was great and the performers did a great job in bringing new life into the characters. A great movie that you will never tire of watching.
Rating: 5 out of 5