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Finally saw THE MUPPETS

I went to see The Muppets today, figuring by now the theaters would be empty enough that there wouldn’t be a lot of noisy kids to contend with (indeed, there was only one well-behaved toddler).  It was entertaining and had some good gags and musical numbers, but I’m afraid I’m underwhelmed by it on the whole.  For one thing, it was too much about playing on nostalgia and things the Muppets had done in the past.  So it felt a bit derivative.  For another, some of the story elements didn’t make much sense to me.  Like, if they had so many celebrities showing up for the telethon, big names like Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris, why just stick them on the phones instead of having them perform?  Which leads me to another disappointment, which is that the celebrity cameos were mostly so minor.  In the previous Muppet movies, the celebs often played bigger roles, and even the cameos were more than just one or two lines.  I would’ve liked to get more than just the brief glimpses we got.

But my main problem was with the characterization of Kermit.  He was just so passive and hopeless here.  Kermit’s supposed to be the eternal optimist, a source of inspiration to others, a leader who brings people together and brings out the best in them.  But here, Kermit was this mopey sad sack who didn’t believe anything was possible and spent most of the movie giving up too easily and needing other people/Muppets to talk him into trying things.  It would’ve been okay if that had just been his initial characterization and he’d been back to his old self by the second act, but it just went on so long here that by the time he gave that “It’s okay because we’re all together” speech near the end, it was too little, too late.  This wasn’t the Kermit I used to know.  The script made him too weak and defeated so that Walter could be the hero and the source of inspiration instead.  Or maybe they were trying so hard to make Kermit a nice guy (something that I gather was an issue that came up in the rewrites) that they forgot he could be bold and assertive and daring as well.  I mean, Kermit was the alter ego of Jim Henson, who was not just an easygoing guy but an innovator who strove to push the envelope and readily took risks.

So it was a nice bit of nostalgia and maybe it’s fine for younger audiences as a reintroduction.  And I enjoyed it for the most part while I was watching.  But in the wake of it I feel a little empty and sad for the loss of what the Muppets were in their prime.

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  1. January 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I still haven’t seen The Muppets yet- I’ve heard from some people that it was wonderful, and from others (especially having heard Frank Oz’s misgivings about the film a little while ago), and I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like it.

    I’m sure I’ll end up seeing the movie at some point, but it seems a little odd to have Jason Segel and a writer from Da Ali G show and Flight of the Conchords writing and directing anything with Muppets in it. Although I may end up loving the film (and it does look like nostalgic fun), the whole idea smacks just a little bit of trying to keep the Muppets relevant, when that’s not really the point of the Muppets.

    • January 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      Oh, I liked it; I just didn’t love it. It was a good try, but it wasn’t quite there.

  2. OverlordSpock
    January 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    See, I LOVED that it was derivitive. I LOVED the nostalgia. I LOVED that they recreated more of “The Muppet Show”, and, in fact, many of the gags from it. In fact, I thought there wasn’t ENOUGH of it. In fact, if the movie had been nothing more than a two hour episode of the show, I would have been perfectly content (although I understand why that would have been a horrible idea).

    I agree that Kermit seemed really down, but chalked it up to something bad happening amongst the group (which happens to even the greatest of groups) and he felt really burned by it. The important thing is that they did come together in the end.

    I too would have liked to see more from some of the celebrities as part of the show, but also feel they were used well as the phone operators for the most part. It didn’t make or break the movie for me.

    All in all, I was thrilled to see the characters performing again!

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