Sometimes, movies are just done right. Everything about this movie is done right. The casting is right. The music is right. The story is right, and the heart is right. The Muppets is just right.
Jason Segel deserves a lot of credit. Not only is he a charming lead, but his screenplay was treated with the care and the attention it deserved. Clearly a Muppet superfan, he knew just what the movie needed, and he made it happen. Every single Muppet is treated like a real character, and no more than 20 minutes into the movie we forget we're watching puppets and start to buy them all as real characters. This is quite an accomplishment, and the movie soars because of it.
I steadily admit that most of the reason The Muppets was so enjoyable to me is because Muppets have a special place in my heart. When I was little, my world brightened every single time I heard that it was time to start the music and light the lights. Even Jason Segel's nod to the Muppets in Forgetting Sarah Marshall gave me that warm special feeling that Kermit and Fozzie always had for me. My point here is that if you don't have that special place in your heart that Muppet fans like myself have, this movie will most likely not make you feel as good as I felt when I left the theater.
But if it does, you're in for a treat. The story is simple; Gary (Segel), his girlfriend Mary (a delightful Amy Adams) and his Muppet brother Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) travel to Los Angeles to see world famous Muppet Studios. However upon their arrival, they meet a downtrodden Kermit (veteran Steve Whitmire) who explains that the old gang has fallen apart. It's not long after that they learn that evil business tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is planning to tear down Muppet Studios for the oil underneath. Walter in his ever-enthusiastic love for the Muppets convinces Kermit that this theater is worth fighting for, and it's not long before the old gang is teaming up for one more show.
A lot of the creative energy in The Muppets comes from director James Bobin and songwriter Bret McKenzie, both of the New Zealand comedy sensation Flight of the Conchords. The Muppets, a full-blown musical, gains a lot of its momentum from the original songs it gives us, mostly written by McKenzie. "Life's a Happy Song", which is the first and last song of the movie almost certainly deserves Oscar consideration, as well as McKenzie's "Man or Muppet". The combination of these fresh new songs, including an old-school sing-a-long rap performed by an exciting new Chris Cooper, and the old Muppets hits we've grown to love make for a wonderful score that practically begs us to buy the soundtrack. With Oscar season coming up, I'd really like McKenzie to be recognized.
While there's no shortage of laughs here, there's also no shortage of heart. Segel and his old pal Nicholas Stoller give great attention to the development and arc of most of our main characters, including Muppets. Segel and Stoller have once again proven that no matter how ridiculous or strange a character may be, they are always the most important part of a movie. The Muppets brings just the right amount of emotion to life.
I'd be doing the movie an injustice if I didn't note that I haven't enjoyed a movie in a very long time as much as I enjoyed The Muppets. Very simply, if you love the Muppets, see The Muppets . If not, you may not understand just what makes this movie so special, and seeing other people relive their memories might make you green with envy.
And as a wise frog once said, it's not easy being green.