The Muppets *** 2011

January 12, 2012 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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The Muppets is a rare family film likely to appeal more to parents than to their offspring. Although it’s true that most kids today know a thing or two about Jim Henson’s creations (the movie’s premise – that they have vanished into obscurity since the early 1980s – is an exaggeration), the Muppets are ingrained in the older generation’s DNA. It’s hard to imagine anyone between the ages of 35 and 50 who didn’t grow up with the loveable puppets, either on Sesame Street or The Muppet Show, or in the early movies. Technically, The Muppets is classified as a “musical comedy,” but this is essentially a 97-minute exercise in nostalgia. It’s the Muppets as they haven’t been since Jim Henson died, a throwback to the time when their TV show was popular and their first movie, 1979’s The Muppet Movie, was a bona fide hit. Kids today will have the same kind of fun at The Muppets they have at all films of this kind. Adults, however, will connect in a deeper way.
The storyline, as has always been the case with the Muppets, is an excuse for singing, dancing, witty exchanges, high-profile cameos, and the magic that happens when the old school felt-and-fuzz creatures come together on screen. Like the television program, this is more variety show than traditional narrative, and it has been assembled with obvious affection by all those involved. Despite the passage of decades, the Muppets have not noticeably changed. Advances in technology have not impacted them. They have not been “enhanced” by the use of CGI. And, although two of the original “voices” are no longer participants (Henson having died and Frank Oz having retired from puppeteering), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and the rest of the gang sound pretty much the same. The Muppets proves that sometimes the best approach is not to tinker with a successful formula.


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