Review: The Muppets

April 17, 2012, 10:09 am
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If Generation X were to ever hold an election for president, my exploratory committee is already in place. Without revealing my age, let's just say that I'm a child of the 80's - growing up during the best years we have ever known. 

One of the true visionaries of that defining decade was undoubtedly Jim Henson. From The Muppet Show to The Dark Crystal to Fraggle Rock - yes, Labyrinth too - Henson brought incredible imagination and seemingly inconceivable innovation to his works, but his untimely death would rob the world of one of the most creative souls to ever grace the planet. 

The ultimate praise for the return of The Muppets, Jim Henson would be immensely proud - it's a luminous and loving tribute to the man who breathed life into nothing but felt and faux fur.

The last time we saw the Muppets on the big screen was '99, Gonzo was seeking his alien family in the mess of movie, Muppets From Space. The franchise laid dormant until Disney snapped up the Muppet name in 2004 and decided to bring Kermit and crew back to life. 

Actor/writer Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) begged for the opportunity to get involved in the revival and thankfully he and now we got what we wished for, an endlessly entertaining reintroduction to the Muppets thanks to a super smart script that offers some of the biggest belly laughs in ages.

Segel plays Gary, an average guy from the adorable burg of Smalltown, USA - average as in his brother is a Muppet named Walter. It's a plot choice that sounds bizarre, but turns out to be brilliant. Their relationship feels organic, the brotherly bond the vehicle for a glorious nostalgic trip back to 1976, when The Muppet Show made its debut. 

Walter's immediate kindred bond with the creatures he sees on TV leads to a life of longing to belong, a longing that leads to a trip west to the Muppets Studios in Hollywood. Walter and Gary joined in the trip by Mary (a impeccably cast Amy Adams) as the trio arrive to find that the Muppets have fallen on destitute times. 

The studios are in disrepair and an evil oil barron (Chris Cooper hamming it up to perfection) is about the raze the joint and take ownership of the Muppet name. Walter, Gary and Mary then set out to reunite the Muppets for a name-saving telethon. Revealing more of the plot would be criminal, it's an experience that demands to be soaked in without spoilers.

With a comic sense oft in line with the Zucker Brothers' classic Airplane, The Muppets comes together in a fashion that is downright magical, fusing elements of Broadway musical, slapstick comedy and (kid you not) tear-jerking emotion. 

Segel has scripted a sharp screenplay that may just get an Oscar nod - it's that impressive.

I could go on and on with the plaudits but it's really this simple, The Muppets is one of the most entertaining movies to grace the screen in years. And if you happen to be a card-carrying member of Generation X, get set to sit in your seat with a sublime smile on your face as the magic makes you feel alive once again.

Grade: A

It was many moons ago in a darkened theater that my love of cinema took root as I snuck in to see my first R-rated film, Blade Runner. The futuristic vision that Ridley Scott unleashed on the screen was simply soul-expanding — spiritual even. From that moment, my mission to have that kind of magic strike again began in earnest. My hope is to be able to shine a light on films that may just have that kind of effect on you — films that may be lesser known, but not lesser in impact. 
- Erick Weber

Final Cut Scoring System
99-95% Opening night
94-90% Opening weekend
89-86% In theaters
85-83% On Demand
82-80% Netflix/Redbox
79-75% If desperate
74-70% If dozing off
69-65% If intoxicated
64-60% If comatose
Below 60% If brain dead

Erick's reviews
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