Other Authors

Muppets comeback a sentimental tale

By Sister Helena Burns, FSP | Contributor
Sunday, January 1, 2012

Disney’s release of “The Muppets” is due to the instigation of Jason Segel (TV’s “How I Met Your Mother”), who is a lifelong Muppet fan and puppet aficionado. When Segel first pitched his idea for a Muppet movie comeback of sorts, the execs at Disney thought he was joking. But he persisted and not only wrote the script, but starred in it as Gary, (along with fellow Homo sapiens Amy Adams, perfectly cast as his girlfriend, and Chris Cooper, perfectly cast as Tex, an evil oil baron).

The story is precisely a comeback story. The Muppets have been forgotten by the public and are estranged from each other. They are now engaged in very diverse and likely jobs according to their personalities (e.g., Miss Piggy is in Paris working for Vogue). But the old Muppet studios are in disrepair and about to be demolished by Tex. Gary and his bland little Muppet brother, Walter (yes, they’re an interspecies family), set out to save the theater by reuniting the Muppets and organizing a telethon Muppet Show.

The group’s nemeses “The Moopets” are supposed to be a Muppet tribute band, but look and act more like a dangerous motorcycle gang.

The jokes are pretty funny, the Muppets are truly themselves, but the story is rather predictable, and at times boring. However, there are some delightful surprises along the way. Miss Piggy towers over the rest of Muppetdom, as usual, and is riveting as always. Is there a hint of Brady-Bunch-Movie-in-the-Grungy- 90s cynicism? Maybe, but probably not. The movie actually seems to be directed toward kids.

The songs (some are old Muppet classics) are fantastic and Muppety. There’s a certain plaintive innocence, hopefulness, bittersweet sanguinity and utter sincerity to a Muppet song. They must be very difficult to write and compose. There are gazillions of cameos (several uncredited). Even David Grohl appears in the background for a few seconds (part of a band, of course). The song and dance number at end of “Muppets” completes the story and leaves us on a high note.

Someone once said that Jim Henson’s genius was to “make the good guy interesting.” My question is: Did a new generation of potential Muppet fans like the movie? Get the movie? Fall in love with the Muppets because of the movie? In a way, that’s all that matters.