(I’m hoping someone gets the reference in my title)
I love films that make me feel nostalgic in a good way. I especially love films that make me feel like a kid again; the ones that take me back to when my life was simpler, when I didn’t have a care in the world. Very few films do that for me nowadays. I think Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium was probably the last one that truly did, until now. If I can sit attentively, staring at the screen, eyes lit up with joy and excitement with a giant grin on my face, I know a film is truly magical and fits the requirements for being one of those perfect films. The Muppets (2011) is definitely one of those perfect films. From the moment this film started, I was locked in, and I just let the nostalgia roll in. I forgot about anything and everything that was bothering me or had ever bothered me. I could’ve been dying at the time and it wouldn’t have mattered, I was a kid again. Not a care in the world.
The film stars The Muppets (of course), as well as Jason Segal, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, and Rashida Jones; it also features a slew of celebrity appearances such as Neal Patrick Harris, Alan Arkin, Jack Black, and many more. It follows the story of Walter (a new Muppet, voiced by Peter Linz) as he searches for a place where he truly belongs.
He and his brother, Gary (Jason Segal) are life-long Muppet fans, and when Gary plans a trip to California with his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) for their 10-year anniversary, he surprises Walter by inviting him along so they can both realize their dreams of visiting the Muppet Studios. Mary isn’t too excited about Walter accompanying them because she wants to be alone with Gary, but she goes along with everything.
Once in California, they visit Muppet Studios only to find out that it’s completely run down; the Muppets haven’t been there in years. They also discover that an evil (and cleverly named) oil tycoon, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), plans to tear down the studios so that he can drill for oil. The only way to stop his dastardly plan is for The Muppets to raise ten million dollars. Here’s the problem – none of The Muppets have been together for years, and they’re scattered all over the globe. So the trio make a stop at Kermit’s house, explain to him the situation, and convince him to get the gang back together and save the studio.
They set out across the country in classic Muppet’s style (think road trip a la The Muppet Movie) and gather up the old gang. They even travel to Paris (via map) to fetch Miss Piggy. Once back in America, they fix up the old Muppet Theater (which is currently not in very good shape) and broker a deal with a network to broadcast a telethon to raise the money they need (the network isn’t too keen on the idea, but they eventually go for it). Now all they have to do is get their act together and garner enough attention and support to save their studio and their names, all while keeping Tex from stopping them. And believe me, there are non-stop hijinks and classic Muppet hilarity throughout.
Honestly, this movie is an outstanding addition to the collection of Muppet films. I was apprehensively excited about this film when it was first announced. Many times when a film series such as this disappears from the silver screen and the public eye for a while, studios will try to revive it with disastrous results. Some studios have a tendency to ruin the magic that the series once held, but not Disney. They brought back everything perfectly without destroying its greatness. No overdone special effects or cheesy CGI, just classic “Muppetry” (that’s Muppet puppetry), clever jokes, and slapstick antics. Funny thing is – I was never worried about Jason Segal writing the script. I had complete faith him, knowing wholeheartedly that he wouldn’t destroy my childhood. And he didn’t let me down. The only downside I found was that Gonzo wasn’t featured enough.
What really sold this film for me, and I’m sure it might for some of you, is Walter’s story. As a kid, there were many times that I dreamed of being a Muppet (or at least being on The Muppet Show). I know it might sound strange, but I really connected with Walter, not only with wanting to be a Muppet, but also with wanting to find somewhere to belong. That connection was the best part of the film for me; that is why the nostalgia really hit home.
I would recommend this film to anyone, no matter what age or whether they were a fan or not. It’s charming and endearing and still has the classic Muppet feel to it. It’s not afraid to poke fun at itself for reusing old jokes, even after all these years. I know this might sound a bit cliche, but this really is the Muppet film that Muppet fans have been waiting for. On whatever rating system that I eventually decided to use as my own, The Muppets will receive top marks. No loss of points whatsoever, it’s a perfect 10!