Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Muppets

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look at one of the many, many, many movies in my home video library.  Today, we get to one of the big releases from this time last year, The Muppets.  Dude, did it really come out a year ago?  Man, how time flies.  This entry is originally dated May 4, 2012.

So I got passes to the advance screening of The Avengers back on Wednesday night.  And since I'd be getting home late, I decided to book Thursday off to sleep in.  And then I thought, "Eh, let's take Friday off too and have a 4-day weekend."  Early on Friday morning I officially ran out of things to do and started getting really, really, bored.  That's when I remembered that I have a stack of new Blu-Rays that I haven't had a chance to watch yet.  I felt guilty about watching them, because, dude, on my day off I should be productive with my spare time, you know, cure cancer or crack cold fusion or something like that.  Not watching movies.  But I decided to suck it up and I finally popped The Muppets into the player.

Now, when the hype for The Muppets started up around this time last year, I was surprised to be caught up in it.  Granted, I always loved it when I was a kid, but I was never a huge Muppet geek.  But something about seeing them coming back to the big screen in a big way really got me going.  I think when I finally got around to seeing it, I told the tale of how it came to be.  Jason Segel.  Currently one of the stars of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother.  A few years ago, he co-wrote and starred in a film called Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  In the film's climax, our hero takes his angst over Sarah Marshall to produce a rock opera version of Dracula performed completely by puppets.  So, of course, they contracted Jim Henson's Creature Shop to design and execute the sequence.  Turns out Segel is a huge Muppet geek, and during the filming of the sequence, he struck up a rapport with the Muppet folks, told them his idea for a Muppet movie, the Muppet folks liked it, they took it Disney (the current owners of the Muppets), pitched it, and the rest is history.

So the film opens with Gary, played by Segal, and his brother Walter, who is a Muppet.  Well, Walter's not a Muppet.  In this world, beings made of felt are quite commonplace, and "The Muppets" are a specific group of world renowned entertainers who are comprised of these felt beings.  Needless to say, Walter idolizes the Muppets, as they're the only folks he's ever known that are like him.  Gary has grown up to be quite protective of his brother, and as such, he and Walter are inseparable.  And this does eventually cause some friction between Gary and his longtime girlfriend, Mary, played by Amy Adams.

Oh my God, Amy Adams.  High on my list of celebrity crushes.  And in this movie, she is over-the-top adorable.  Did you know she's playing Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman reboot?  She is going to CRUSH it.

Anyway, Gary and Mary are heading off to LA to celebrate their 10th anniversary, where Gary's finally going to propose to Mary, and he insists on bringing Walter along so he can finally see the Muppet Studios.  So they arrive in LA, and even though the Muppet Studios are long forgotten and have fallen into disrepair, this doesn't dampen Walter's enthusiasm.  While on the tour, Walter manages to overhear the machinations of the villain of our piece, Tex Richman.  Richman plans to buy the Muppet Studios, demolish them, and drill for oil underneath.  Walter is horrified when he hears this, and tells Gary and Mary the plan.  So, they set out to find Kermit the Frog and let him know what's going on.  With Kermit informed, they figure they need to buy the Muppet Studios back from Richman.  And they'll do it by reuniting the Muppets and staging a telethon. 

The film then switches focus to the Muppets here, and they're quest to reunite and put on the show.  And the film really does get introspective and philisophical as people question the Muppets -- and they question themselves --  as to whether they're still relevant and people still know who they are and whether they're still famous enough.  No doubt, such questions were going on in the Disney studios when they were making this film.  When we do come back to the Gary/Mary/Walter drama, it does seem like an afterthought. 

But when the climax rolls around, and they launch their telethon, and they do it by recreating the old opening title sequence to The Muppet Show, not gonna lie, I get chills.  It's just so awesome seeing that again.  And when I saw it in the theatre, all there on the big screen, it was quite the treat.

I still think the end kind of borrows from the "Weird Al" Yankovic classic UHF.  What, with the telethon, and the villain trying to sabotage the whole thing...you can see the similarities.

And then Kermit's speech at the end...it just gives you good feelings.  Apparently, before they started filming, they did go up to Pixar and let the Pixar guys do a few revisions.  It really does feel like a Pixar-style of sentiment at the end. 

And let's not forget the Oscar-winning songs.  Oh my God, the songs in the film are so good. 

The Muppets is just a great movie, and revitalizes the franchise in a big way.  Check it out.

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