2011-11-23

The Muppets – Is There Still A Place For Them?

by Yo Snyder

Muppets from Space wasn’t their most popular movie, but I
really liked it. It was fun, it was funny, it provided some great
background on Gonzo, and it had some really great music. What wasn’t
there to like? Well, in any event, the Muppets went on hiatus after
that. True, they appeared on TV and the Internet every now and then, but
they really didn’t have much a presence. Well, apparently I wasn’t the
only one who felt that was just sad. Jason Segel felt the Muppets
deserved better, and unlike me, he could do something about it. What did
he do? He got the Muppets back on the big screen. Not only that, but he
partnered with them to create one of the most entertaining and
enjoyable movies of the year. Truly, I dare you to not leave the theater
with a smile on your face after seeing this movie. (Actually, on second
thought, I don’t dare you because I don’t want you to try not to have a
good time just to win the dare; I’d rather you just enjoy the movie).

If there’s a downside to The Muppets, it’s that the overall
plot feels a little familiar. The whole idea of the Muppets reuniting to
raise money or otherwise save their beloved Muppet Theater was a plot
for at least one TV special (one of their Christmas one’s, I believe)
and I feel like it’s been used more than that. Plus the whole reuniting
and “getting the gang back together for a big show” stuff was a big part
of The Muppets Take Manhattan. Still, it’s a good way to
re-introduce the Muppets, so I don’t begrudge them that, but the whole
story and the various beats it hit just felt very familiar. Don’t get me
wrong, though, that doesn’t make the movie any less enjoyable.

Other than that minor quibble, the rest of the film is a delight. The Muppets
has just the right mix of nostalgia and freshness. It pays tribute to
who the Muppets were and what they accomplished while also giving them a
fresh start in a radically different world.  More importantly, just
about everything from the music to the jokes feels very “Muppety”, for a
lack of a better word. It just all fit these characters very well, and
I’m glad the approach taken was making the movie fit who they are as
opposed to “reinventing” them and making the Muppets fit into a “hipper,
edgier, fresher, more modern take” (I can just hear someone pitching
that). In fact, I think the movie even acknowledges what that might have
looked like with the Moopets. They’re dark, hip, edgy – pretty much
everything the Muppets aren’t – and while it’s kind of interesting to
see what that might look like, they just aren’t the Muppets and I
wouldn’t want to see a movie all about them; it just wouldn’t be nearly
as fun.

That’s the big question, though; is there still a place for the
Muppets? The villain of the movies says no, there isn’t. In a dark,
cynical world, the Muppets brand of bright, happy, singing, dancing and
telling jokes is old, out-dated, irrelevant and no longer needed.
There’s no place for them any more. Could such a thing be true? This
declaration is more than just a plot device, it’s an insightful
commentary on our culture. There’s a lot of talk these days about how
things like traditional views of morality, marriage, family and even
Church are no longer relevant. We’ve moved past them, we need to
redefine them, there’s no space for them in our modern, 21st century
society. Is that really true? Is there no longer a place for goodness in
our world? You know, it’s easy to focus on the dark, the bad, the
tragic, and the cynical. It’s sensational, it’s dramatic, it grabs our
attention. But the truth is that’s not what people want their lives to
be defined by. We yearn, long for, and desire something more. Deep
within us there is something that instinctively recognizes what is good,
righteous and beautiful because that the way we were created. We were
created to have a relationship with the ultimate good; a loving God. Is
there still a place for that? Absolutely, if we want there to be; but it
has to be our choice. There is still a place for good and light in this
world, if we choose Truth, just as there’s still a place for the
Muppets, if we choose to go see their movie.

Although the Muppets are the real stars of the film, Jason Segel and
Amy Adams bring a fun earnestness and sincerity to their roles with
their sweet, wide-eyed portrayals. In fact, they’re just as much a
Muppet as any of the other characters in the movie; just taller…and
less fuzzy. Wisely, they also don’t try to compete with their Muppet
companions. In fact, they’re really more supporting players than
anything else. There’s many times where they may be in a scene but are
just there as observers, not as the stars. It’s smart move as it lets
the true stars of the movie, the Muppets, shine without ever feeling
like they’re competing for space. As for the Muppets themselves, well
it’s like they’ve never been gone. They’re still just as witty, lovable,
funny and fun as ever. Their unique sense of humor and impeccable
timing when delivering a punch line and the ability to convey quieter,
more heartfelt moments as well, are as fine tuned as ever. You’d never
know it’s been over a decade since the last time they made a movie.

The Muppets
is filled with snappy songs, lots of funny and sweet moments, some fun
celebrity cameos, and all the elements that make the Muppets special.
And for long time fans, this new movie has lots of fun little throw
backs and call-outs to past films and shows. While this movie has broad
appeal and is sure to be fun for everyone, it’s really a movie for the
fans. It celebrates what we love about the Muppets. It’s crafted with
loving care and a deep understandings of what makes them unique. The Muppets
is a joy and a delight, and will leave a smile on your face. Best of
all, it’s something everyone in the family can enjoy, which makes it the
perfect movie for the Thanksgiving weekend.