So I went to watch The Muppets over the weekend in my first visit to the cinema this year actually. It was between that or We Need to Talk about Kevin, a discussion I thought I’d rather not have on a Friday afternoon. So the Muppets it would have to be. I mean, it wasn’t completely an exercise in futility, it’s roped in an Oscar nomination for best song after all, so let’s call it research for the Oscars.
Anyway, just in case you don’t read the rest of this blog, let me tell you up front: avoid this. Especially if you are childless. I thought I’d go looking for my inner child, but I’ve never felt older in my life. I’m not even sure the kids got it, what with all the crying and not sitting still, but then again in the post-movie interviews they weren’t the most lucid commentators I’ve come across, so I can’t say for certain. (I didn’t really question the kids afterwards, their mothers made sure of hurrying them away from the strange man who didn’t belong in that particular theatre!)
Again, to illustrate my misguidedness going in, I was more excited about seeing two of my favourite movie people ever together on screen than seeing the muppets. But Amy Adams and Jason Segel added nothing. Adams’ small town charm in the form of Mary was unbearable. Meanwhile, Segel was in an annoyingly chipper mood which I couldn’t stand either, constantly staring down the camera from the corner of his eye, obviously having a great time and wanting you to know it. This is his pet project, after all, and I now feel foolish for getting drawn in by childlike enthusiasm. While working on this movie both actors hopefully had ample time to pursue other movies or at least read a few scripts, because they were mostly props and didn’t have to act much at all.
The story itself is pretty cheesy and couldn’t have taken too long to cook up. In a wink to the Muppets waning real-life appeal, Gary (Segel), his girlfriend Mary (Adams) and his brother Walter go on a trip to Los Angeles to see the Muppets Studio, oh and celebrate an anniversary or something. The thing is, Walter is a muppet. Or I guess he’s a puppet, wanting to be a muppet. There’s a message about how you see yourself and finding your purpose in life and all kinds of stuff, but I don’t know and don’t care… anyway, the trio find the studio in a derelict state, with a greedy oil tycoon (Chris Cooper) wanting to buy it for nefarious purposes. So they round up all the Muppets in no time and plan to piece together a show to raise enough money to save their studio. So far, so nothing’s happened yet.
The show they put on is at least an improvement and Jack Black’s input actually helps things along (who would’ve thought you’d say that about any of his recent work). There’s also a slew of other cameos, which was heartening as they obviously believe in the movie, but that’s about as much I can say. And I suppose it’s better watching the Muppets sing and dance rather than the humans, because the songs of the latter feel more like someone trying to imitate Brett McKenzie’s work than it being the real deal. There is none of the awkward charm we’re used to seeing in Flight of the Conchords, instead it’s just awkward and embarrassing. By the time Chris Cooper starts rapping I seriously considered walking out, just in case I one day meet the man and have to look him in the eye with some sort of respect. I also seriously don’t see how they got nominated for best song, it would appear the academy got a little sentimental on us here.
Anyway, this is starting to feel like a bit of a rant, and I think in the end it’s my fault for going to see the movie. Muppets fans will probably love the movie, anyone else should probably opt for talking about Kevin, even though I’ve heard that is harrowing in another way to this. Or just watch Space Jam again, a fantasy cross-over which manages to be both silly and fun at the same time.