Life’s a happy song when there’s someone by your side to sing along as The Muppets marks its tenth anniversary since the 2011 release.
Films like The Muppets are exactly why the Academy Awards needs a Best Comedy category. We’re long overdue and this is certainly one of the best comedies in 2011. Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller deliver a crowd-pleasing script, beautifully directed by James Bobin. And the set pieces, oh my! There are some wonderful musical numbers in the film and these set pieces are absolutely beautiful. How can you not want to just break out in song and dance while watching? Just me, okay.
Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) are visiting Los Angeles from Smalltown, USA. They are there along with Gary’s brother, Walter. Walter is a huge Muppet fan and while touring the studio, he learns that oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is planning to demolish The Muppet Theater. To stop this horribly plan from taking place, Gary, Mary, and Walter help Kermit get the gang back together. They need to raise $10 million during The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever. Otherwise, it’s goodbye Muppet Theater! Everyone is doing their own thing now, which only makes matters worse. Can they do it all again? Harmonize for one more song?
Speaking of songs, the new songs from Bret McKenzie are absolutely perfect. Make no mistake that he is very deserving of the Oscar win. I mean, you could give it to any one of a few songs written for the film! “Man or Muppet” might take the prize but I love a classic ensemble dance number like “Life’s a Happy Song.” It’s a throwback to the days of the great Arthur Freed musicals at MGM! Chris Cooper gets a tune called “Let‘s Talk About Me.” Lastly, Amy Adams gets to duet with Miss Piggy in “Me Party.” Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis, and Chen Neeman pen the moving “Pictures in my Head.”
I know the film has been available for over ten years so you know the cameos. However, I’m not going to discuss them. One, some come out of the blue. Two, it is completely unfair to somebody experiencing this wonderful film for the first time. I still remember my first experience of watching the film ten years ago. If someone ruined some of the major cameos–especially THAT ONE–I’d have been upset to say the least. What I will say is that there’s a Billy Crystal cameo cut from the film. Thankfully, it lives on in the bonus features as do some of the other cameos. I do, however, understand why they made the decision because I don’t think it would fit the flow of the film.
This was the first Muppets film to be released in theaters since Muppets in Space in 1999. It was a welcome return for one of the best franchises in American history. A sequel would follow in 2014 followed by a short-lived ABC series of the same name. But anyway, The Muppet Show is a gateway to comedy for younger viewers not old enough for Saturday Night Live. Bobin, Segel, and Stoller put so much love in making this movie worthy of keeping the torch alive for a new generation of Muppets fans. A personal thank you not just to the trio but to producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman for taking a chance on them. This is one of those films that constantly brings a smile to your face except for when Tex is trying to put his plan into effect.
When it comes to the comedy in this film, they never seek to put anyone down. This is why the fan favorites have been able to endure for so many years. Comedians could learn a thing or two from The Muppets!
It also takes going to Los Angeles for the first time to realize that the exterior of Disney’s El Capitan Theatre is used for the Muppet Theater. If you look closely at the banner on the lamppost during the final musical number, that’s Jim Henson. The interiors were filmed on a soundstage at Universal. The film certainly makes great use of the available studio lots and backlots. If you’ve ever been on an Warner Bros. tour, Smalltown should look familiar! Other LA landmarks include the TCL Chinese Theater (Grauman’s), Canter‘s Deli, Greystone Mansion and Pink Palace.
The Muppets captures the spirit of the franchise and makes us fall in love with them all over again.
DIRECTOR: James Bobin
SCREENWRITERS: Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller
CAST: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Alan Arkin, Jack Black, Zach Galifianakis, Emily Blunt
Disney released The Muppets in theaters on November 23, 2011.
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