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THE MUPPETS on DVD… Mops + Puppets = ????

Posted on April 23rd, 2012
Posted on April 23rd, 2012

by Coop Cooper

When asked what a “Muppet” was, Homer Simpson once said, “Well, it’s not quite a mop and it’s not quite a puppet, but maaaaan! (laughs) So to answer your question, I don’t know.”

My generation and those surrounding it grew up with The Muppets films and “The Muppet Show.” Since the 90’s they’ve popped up here and there in direct-to-video films and viral music videos on the internet, but they never truly made a comeback since the the TV show was cancelled in the 80’s. Now with the new film “The Muppets,” Jim Henson’s creations return to serve up some fantastic, clever and funny family entertainment.

The story follows a human, Gary (Jason Segel), and his co-dependent muppet brother, Walter, who is the world’s biggest Muppets fan. When Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) plan a romantic getaway trip to Hollywood, Gary invites Walter out of guilt in order to take him to “The Muppet Studios.” While there, they find the studios dilapidated and Walter accidentally eavesdrops on a plan by Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to buy the studio and demolish it to drill for oil on the property. Gary, Mary and Walter go on a quest to reunite Kermit the Frog with The Muppets in an effort to stop Tex Richman.

Much of the humor in the first half comes from finding out where the individual Muppets have ended up. Kermit is a hermit. Fozzie the Bear is the headliner of a lousy Reno lounge act called “The Moopets.” Gonzo is a millionaire toilet supply magnate. Animal is incarcerated in an anger management institution. Miss Piggy is tyrannical editor of a plus-sized fashion magazine in Paris. All of them have hilarious reactions to the idea of getting back together, but Miss Piggy proves the most stubborn of the holdouts. Plus, with TV reality shows like “Punch Teacher” gaining popularity, The Muppets learn they have a lot of work ahead of them to bring their old-fashioned act back on the air.

As in Muppet films and TV shows there are musical numbers and celebrity cameos galore. A few of the sequences fall flat. The Mary/Miss Piggy disco number “Me Party” could have easily been cut out. The bizarre rap number from Cooper as Tex Richman was far too off-putting to be entertaining. You might find yourself checking your watch during the solemn and corny Oscar-nominated song “Man or Muppet.” None of the music numbers rise to the classic level of “Rainbow Connection” (which makes an appearance in the film) but the creators give it the old college try. The best numbers happen when “The Muppets” humorously butcher songs from Nirvana and Cee-Lo Green.

Despite their predilection towards knee-slappers and sight gags, the humor remains fresh and clever. The funniest stuff comes from the writing and comedic timing. Star Jason Segel won the chance to write “The Muppets” for pulling off a memorable muppet-like “Dracula” musical in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” a film which he also wrote and starred in. He has done the franchise proud, but I’d like to ask him why he failed to include a single Swedish Chef gag in the entire movie. I have a sneaking feeling it was cut for time’s sake. Too bad considering he’s my favorite character.

The celebrities pulled their weight in this film, especially Jack Black who played a serious version of himself, nearly stealing the show out from under his fuzzy co-stars. Whoopi Goldberg, Alan Arkin, Mickey Rooney and a large cast of next-generation TV stars also make appearances.

The late Jim Henson (a Mississippi native) would be proud. Be sure to visit his museum down in Leland, Mississippi to see some Muppet memorabilia and learn how Henson got his start.

The Muppets” are now available on DVD.

Rating: 3½ out of 5 stars

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