Jason Segel's Muppets franchise reboot is funny and charming enough to melt even the stingiest movie geek's heart....
Buena Vista / 103 Minutes / 2011 / Rated PG / Street Date: March 20, 2012
The miser in me wanted to reject The Muppets. A staunch defendant of Jim Henson's unique talents (give me Labyrinth or give me death!), I thought that a post-millennium reboot of the now-Disneyfied Muppets franchise would be soulless and cheap, without even a glimmer of Henson's movie magic. And Hell - if Frank Oz wasn't going to be involved, I wasn't interested.
But then the response to the movie started pouring in. My cousin on the east coast didn't just enjoy the film, she raved about it, explaining to me in specific detail that there were maybe six or seven minutes of the movie she didn't giggle through. Even colleagues in Los Angeles sang its praises, calling the fusion between Jason Segel's comic timing and the film's zippy, hip music (it did, in fact, win an Oscar in this regard) an effort that was far better than they thought it would be.
I continued my resistance throughout The Muppets' theatrical presence, but once this Blu-ray set came to the office, I knew it was time to either see what all the fuss was about or let my grumpy Henson loyalty get the best of me. And lo and behold, this stupid little movie chipped away at my misgivings. The film's premise - in which Segel, his girlfriend (Amy Adams), and his brother (Peter Linz) have to raise enough money to save The Muppet Theater or meanie Chris Cooper will tear it down and drill for oil there - is needlessly extensive, but even if my contrarian tendencies worked overtime trying to keep chuckles from coming out of my mouth, after maybe ten minutes, I gave myself over to it.
This Muppets may not be Henson's Muppets - there is zero profundity to be mined here, where in Henson's vision, the landscape was riddled with cultural and social implications - but it is fun as all get-out, a goofy, prancing geek of a family film that keeps its balance as both a sweet-natured story and a yuk-fest of epically dorky proportions from start to finish. It's not a masterwork, but if this is what The Muppets is going to look and sound like from now on, I suppose it could be worse. It's not the same - I'll take The Great Muppet Caper any day of the week - but as a different take on our beloved Muppets, this newbie actually kind of a blast.