By Chris Humphries
November 23, 2011
The Muppets are back, and they've brought an incredible movie with them. A hilarious and endearing musical journey, the film showcases almost if not every member of the famous felt-covered troupe. Jason Segel and Amy Adams are along for the ride, portraying a 1950s-style, perfect-with-problems couple. The story begins with a timeline of the life of Walter, a Muppet boy in a human family and his brother, Gary (a great role for the lovable Segel). While Gary grows up, Walter stays the same in every way—except for his ever-expanding love for The Muppet Show. All he wants is to be one of them, because he knows that's where he belongs. Acceptance is a huge theme in this film, and it really allows an audience of all ages to connect with the story.
The journey continues to Hollywood, where Walter tags along with Gary and Mary (Adams) on their anniversary trip. What's supposed to be a romantic getaway for the couple turns into a quest to rekindle The Muppet Show after Walter, while visiting the dilapidated Muppet Studios and hiding in Kermit the Frog's dusty and decaying office, overhears Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) and his Muppet cronies talking about their plans to destroy the studios and dig for oil. This event provides a catalyst for the film, calling for a road trip to reassemble the Muppets clan and raise $10 million to save the studios. Everyone from Fozzie Bear to the Swedish chef is found and coerced, usually without much force, into being part of the group again. A wary but willing TV exec, played by Rashida Jones, finds them a spot to fill, and the Muppet Telethon is on!
The Muppets is extremely heavy on cameos. From Zach Galifianakis to Alan Arkin, there are more than 30 guest appearances, most of which I didn't even notice until the credits rolled. Jack Black is an important one, as he plays Animal's caretaker in anger management and is kidnapped to host the telethon, very much against his will. Like The Muppet Show of yesteryear, the film provides relevance with its cameos, which keeps the audience engaged as a famous face pops up in almost every shot.
The desire to be loved and accepted resides in everyone's heart. At the core of all of us, after all the excess and unimportant details that fill our lives are cleared away, we all want someone to want us, to accept us. In The Muppets, Walter desires to be wanted by a world that is so different from him. His connection and love for the Muppets stems from the fact that he knows that with them is where he belongs. The legendary relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy is also on display in full effect, taking the group as far as Paris to find her. The frog and the pig pick up right where they left off, with Piggy’s need for Kermit’s attention and Kermit’s denial of his true love for her. This relationship is also seen between Gary and Mary, with Mary frustrated by the fact Gary can’t seem to focus on just her for their trip.
The Muppets is a great movie for all ages. I saw it in a theater with children getting their first taste and adults reliving a huge part of their childhood. The film also displays a sort of diversity as well, provoking both laughter and tears and reminding viewers of the resounding fact that it’s “not always easy being green [or fill in the blank].” Life brings the challenges of acceptance and love every day, and at the end of it all, it’s not about the stuff and cars and cash, but about holding someone’s hand or laughing with your family. As Kermit says: “Maybe you don’t need the whole world to love you, you know? Maybe you just need one person.”