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December 19, 2011

Movie Review: The Muppets (2011)

When I first heard that Jason Segel was writing a new Muppet movie, I was not thrilled. He's fine as an actor, but nothing too impressive. When he wrote Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I immediately recognized the hackneyed sitcom storyline. I just couldn't bring myself to watch it. Unfortunately, Segel employs the same tactic for The Muppets, but somehow it worked remarkably well.

Buy The Muppets Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/Soundtrack Combo

Gary and Walter are brothers. Gary (Segel) is a regular boy, and Walter is a puppet. They grow up as best friends, and while Gary finds love with his girlfriend Mary, Walter finds The Muppet Show. For their ten year anniversary, Gary plans a trip to Los Angeles with Mary. As a surprise, they bring Walter along to visit Muppet Studios. When they get there, they find a dilapidated shell of what the studios used to be, and Walter overhears an oil tycoon (Chris Cooper) who plans to shut down the studio and drill for oil underneath.

As Walter, Gary and Mary find Kermit and the rest of the Muppets to try to save the studio, you can see the love Segel has for these characters. He was also pretty smart in doing two things. First, though he plays Gary, I'm very sure that Walter represents him as a kid. Second, he wrote a great musical number in which Gary and Walter ask the question, "Are you a man or a Muppet?" The brilliant thing is that by doing this, Segel got to become a Muppet, and that would be a cool thing for anyone.

The references that only fans would get, the return of Muppets not seen since the show, the music, the silliness and the cameos all work to make the movie thoroughly enjoyable. I felt like a kid again, but at the same time, I felt like the movie was written for thirty-five-year-olds. The story was almost more about Walter than the rest of the Muppets, but that was okay. He got the movie set in motion, and it proved that the Muppets weren't forgotten, as the plot suggested. They just need a little new life now and again. They definitely got it, and I really hope to see more.

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