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Monday, November 28, 2011

The Muppets (Release Date: 11-23-2011)

        In the year 2011, the world has forgotten about the Muppets. Kermit the Frog roams aimlessly around the halls of his giant mansion, Fozzie Bear serves as the highlight of an underwhelming Muppets cover-band, and Miss Piggy works as an editor for a plus-size fashion magazine. This isn't how they always planned it, but decreased demand for the felt friends has resulted in the essential breaking up of the band. But there's at least one man (or a muppet?) who isn't ready to let them go: The two-feet-tall, bespectacled Walter. Walter tags along with his brother Gary (Jason Segal) on his ten-year anniversary celebration with his bow, Mary (Amy Adams), the three venturing to Muppets Studios, only to find the place in ruin. Having long idolized the manic puppets, Walter convinces Kermit to round up the gang for one last variety show, an attempt to raise ten million dollars before evil oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) tears the place down for good.

        There aren't many opportunities to say this in the world of film criticism, so I'd might as well just go with it: This is a Puppet Passion Project if ever there was one. Segal, who has been working on the project for years now, does everything from writing and starring, to operating muppets in select scenes. His genuine, unabashed enthusiasm, along with the unbridled zest of just about everyone else in the project, make The Muppets an almost impossible movie to dislike. Sure, if singing, dancing, wise-cracking puppets isn't really your thing, the flick might have a hard time winning you over, but if you're a sucker for shameless glee the way that I (and the rest of the world... I hope) am, there's not really any going wrong with this one.

        All the flesh-covered performers do their job, Segal's part crammed near the beginning, Adams given sacred little screen-time to work with, and a cascade of cameos hitting almost each and every single time (Sorry, Selena Gomez... what are you doing here?). But the humans aren't the point. The flesh and blood of the picture is handled by beings without flesh or blood, a slew of clever cracks, wonderful and hilarious musical numbers, and palpable nostalgia leading the way. Not that it's had the most competition for this mantle, but the Muppets is, without any form of doubt, the best American movie musical since Sweeney Todd, its songs becoming earworms on initial impact. There's not much reviewing that really needs to be done here. If you like your movies silly and fun, and don't might them being completely trivial and having a slightly saggy mid-section, then you kind of just need to buy a ticket to this one. It's glaringly obvious, from first frame to last, that everyone on screen is having a blast. The feeling is infectious.

Grade: A-

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