Even though there have been a few movies in theatres starring the Muppets in the last few decades or so, it feels like it’s been such a long time since they’ve been in their prime. The Muppets film plays that up as the basis for the newest movie that acts, in a way, as a comeback for them, both in the film and on the big screen.
Walter and Gary are brothers, where Gary is human and Walter is a muppet. He realizes he’s different but is always treated normally by Gary, who grows up, has a job and has a long-term girlfriend. Early on, Walter discovers the Muppets on television and while the rest of the world has moved on from that variety show, Walter has continued to hold on. When Gary announces that he is taking his girlfriend Mary to Los Angeles for their tenth anniversary, and taking Walter to see the Muppet studios as well, Walter is ecstatic.
Of course, not being popular anymore, the studio tour proves to be a disappointment. By this point, the storyline appears to be set up until one last twist: Walter overhears a plot by the film’s antagonist Tex Richman to buy the studios and tear them down.
This film plays both sides of the coin and does it well. We’re seeing it from the perspective of the fan, Walter, who reacts like any big fan would such as his fainting upon meeting his hero Kermit the Frog for the first time. But we get to see the Muppets as the former celebrities they used to be, now living separate lives but with memories from the fame they enjoyed thirty years ago. An insider’s look, if you will. The Muppets are playing all the right cards by presenting themselves in a seemingly realistic light. Has-beens, not able to win high ratings and they all lead relatively normal lives.
Like the original Muppets movie from 1979, this one has a fair share of musicals and many cameo appearances, Neil Patrick Harris, Selena Gomez and Whoopi Goldberg, among many others. Jack Black has one of leads and is perhaps his least irritating role ever. But the stars of the film are the Muppets themselves who retain the same personalities that they were each individually known for during their heyday. With these personalities, whether they clash such as with Miss Piggy and pretty well anyone else, or whether they compliment each other, there are many opportunities for laughs that aren’t lost.
What does make this movie special though is that despite there being such a huge time gap between the highest point of their popularity and the change in pop culture, the Muppets haven’t sacrificed what made them unique to try to win over new audiences (*ahem* Alvin & the Chipmunks) but rather embraced what made them what they are and used to hold their charm. Some things just shouldn’t be altered with time and what we’ve come to know as The Muppets still holds true in 2011. This film is reliable and if there’s even just a little bit of Walter in you, it’s worth the trip to the theatre.