Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Movie Review - The Muppets

Dear Jim Henson,

As a lifelong fan of the Muppets, Sesame Street, and just about every other project you were involved in, I would like to extend a heartfelt apology to you and your legacy for spending $19.50 to buy Boo, Girlie Bear, and myself matinee tickets to see the gilded turd that has been foisted upon the world by whoever owns your trademark these days.

I plan to begin a personal quest to discover what remains of your carcass and return it to its final resting place.  I fear that there will not be much left, seeing as how it has been picked over to make this waste of digital celluloid, but I will do my best.


Daddy J. Bear

Today was clear, bright, and cold.  If there was snow on the ground, I would have taken the children sledding.  Since I live in Kentucky, that magical region where it's too warm to get snow on a regular basis and too cold to walk around in jeans and a tee shirt, I found another activity for our little band:  we went to the movies.

Our choices that seemed at all appropriate for a 3 year old, a 13 year old, and a 40 year old boiled down to the new Chipmunks movie and "The Muppets".  Since I'd rather gouge out my eyes and immolate myself in the runoff pond from a goat ranch than watch another Chipmunks movie, I decided to go see the Muppets.

I love the Muppets. I grew up watching the Muppet Show and Sesame Street.  I have seen every Muppet movie that I can in the theaters and I own most of them on DVD.  My kids have also enjoyed Jim Henson's work from as early as I could get them to watch it.  So this seemed like a natural choice.

You know, maybe Alvin and the Chipmunks wouldn't have been that bad.

The plot of this 'movie' centers around two brothers, one a Muppet and one a human.  The human brother is in love with the school shop teacher, played by a cute redhead with a tolerable singing voice.  The human guy, well, he could hit some notes but hold few.  Yes, this is a musical, in the tradition of most of the other Muppet movies.  Difference is that in the other Muppet movies, the main characters were mostly Muppets, and they did the majority of the singing.  Here, it seemed to be a Muppet musical about humans singing.

Also, in other Muppet movies, the creators were trying to tell a story.  In the original Muppet Movie, it was about how the Muppets came together as a group.  Same goes with the rest of the movies, all the way down to Muppets in Space.  Yeah, that one was cheesy, but it was funny, and it was Muppets telling a story, not Muppets for the sake of Muppets.

Basically, this is a "let's get the band back together by a deadline" movie.  For those of you who've seen the Blues Brothers, it's kind of like that, but without the car chases, good music, Illinois Nazis, or jokes.

The movie spends most of its first two acts poking fun at Muppets cliches.  Some gags worked, some didn't.  The third act moves pretty well, but if you've seen the other movies and watched the Muppet Show a bit, you've seen most of it already.

The villain, because there has to be a villain, is a rich oil executive.  Yeah, rich white guys who want to exploit Gaia get to be the bad guys.  I could have accepted that as them doing another cliche, but the gangster rap number the villain did just didn't click with me.

About halfway through the movie, I quit trying to kickstart my interest in the movie and started observing the crowd in the theater.  Like I said, it's slim pickings for movies that are appropriate for young kids, so the small theater we were in was busy.  What I heard was kids talking and playing with toys, with adults occasionally bursting into laughter.  Once the popcorn, soda, and Skittles were gone, Boo gave the movie about 20 minutes before he started to get really bored.  Girlie Bear didn't even make it that long.  By the time I looked up, she was reading a book by the light of her cell phone. (We were in the back row of the theater, so I didn't mind so long as she was polite about it).

I think this one is going to go into the "Movies I will not admit exist" file, along with Highlander 2 and Starship Troopers.  If you want to see this movie, give it a year or so, at which point it will be played repeatedly on Disney Channel or one of the other cable channels that wants to appeal to young families.

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