Directed by James Bobin. US. 2011. PG. 103 minutes. Disney. 35mm.
Sat., November 30, 2013
“For adults, the movie’s gentle, clever, unironic humor feels freshly, trendily retro now, enhanced by laughs provided in cameos from a very up-to-date roster of stars, including Rashida Jones, Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, Selena Gomez, and Emily Blunt. And for kids, blessedly unironic by nature until wised up by nurture, the movie is just shiny, funny, and filled with songs, including a curse-free chicken rendition of Cee-Lo’s ”Forget You.”
Big, goofily sincere Muppet fan Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother), who co-wrote the script directed by “Da Ali G Show’s” James Bobin, stars as a nice guy named Gary, whose happy life in Smalltown, USA, revolves around his longtime girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams in her professionally adorable “Enchanted” comedian-sweetheart mode), and Gary’s pint-size brother, Walter. Walter’s obsession with all things Muppet no surprise to everyone who looks at the felty guy and recognizes him as One of Them brings the trio to Los Angeles, where they become involved in a desperate fund-raising plan to save the decrepit old Muppet Theater from the dastardly tear-down plans of an evil oilman (Chris Cooper, a great meanie). In fact, the story, with its ”Let’s put on a show!” vibe, is a little wispy. (That’s the climax, folks: The Muppets resurrect “The Muppet Show” as a one-night telethon.)
But the stuff surrounding the story is its own diversion. I like the look of the outdated, run-down Muppet Studios when Walter takes a tour and, indeed, the run-down state of the Muppets themselves as Kermit begins pulling them out of retirement for an onstage reunion. I love the bits with a hint of Pee-wee Herman to them, such as when Gary, Mary, and Walter travel in their car to France ”by map”: We watch a line arc across an atlas, and the vehicle rises out of the water in Cannes. And I’m delighted that “The Devil Wears Prada’s” Emily Blunt shows up as a haughty “British Vogue” staffer attending to the whims of a very demanding editor: Miss Piggy. That’s testament not to the power of “Vogue” but to the power of Muppets.” (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly)