Warming Your Inner Child’s Heart One Felt Puppet at a Time
It seems like Hollywood has made it a goal to take everything beloved from the 1980s and retool it for modern audiences. Despite this trend, “The Muppets'” 2011 release was a pleasant surprise. In a similar story to previous Muppets films, The Muppets have to put a show together — this time in order to save Muppet Studious. Just like how The Muppets have not been on the top of the relevancy charts in the real world, in the movie they are all separated and pursuing their own interests much like great creative groups such as The Beatles or Monty Python. Offering an interesting spin, The Muppets have a very cynical view about putting the group back together until a new Muppet and his human family persuade them otherwise.
The Muppets’ humor is not as cheesy as some of their old material. When a kid thinks Kermit is a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle, he deceitfully agrees for the attention. And when Fozzy sings a promotional tune parodying the beautiful “Rainbow Connection,” it’s an obvious public relations piece about the free continental breakfasts and parking at his employer’s hotel casino. It’s a fun combination of 70s idealism that has been an integral part of The Muppets since they started, and modern more assertive humor. This mix of emotion, as well as a combination of clever writing and the acting chops of the Muppeteers, brings about an odd situation where audiences can shed a tear or two about felt puppets.
The numerous musical numbers make for the best moments of the film including classics like “The Muppet Show Theme” and “Manah Manah,” and new tunes such as a barbershop quartet rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and a chicken version of “F*ck You.” This film is very well aware of itself and ventures into satire of the comedy adventure genre: The villain actually spurts out the words “maniacal laugh” instead of laughing maniacally and Fozzy questions if the movie has the budget for such large explosions. This meta humor is always a fun time to see in a comedy movie, but occurs so frequently in “The Muppets” that it almost feels overused.
As each second of the movie rolled on, my nostalgia wasn’t offended. It’s a classic coming-together story full of a large cast of both Muppets and celebrity cameos, and is bound to appeal to children, parents, and anyone who had ever enjoyed The Muppets in the past. You shouldn’t need to force a maniacal laugh in this one — it will happen naturally.