The Muppets review

Story by Eric Christenson

In September, I wrote an editorial in The Spectator called “Nostalgia Ad Nauseum,” where I basically complained that nostalgia is being used today as a legitimate replacement for actual creativity in TV and movies and how that’s incredibly frustrating.

So I feel a little hypocritical in saying “The Muppets” was a really great movie … and it’s based almost entirely in a presumably lingering nostalgia for “The Muppet Show,” the first Muppet movies in the late ’70s and early ’80s, so on and so forth.

The thing is, “The Muppets” didn’t ever supplant its wit and heart with a cheapened version of itself by recycling old jokes and gags.  The laughs were fresh and the sentiment was earned, which may be a little bit surprising given the plot.

The movie introduces a new Muppet, Walter, to the world.  He and his brother Gary (played by Jason Segel, who also wrote the script) grow up together and while Gary gets taller, gets a girlfriend and leads a normal life, Walter’s the outsider because, to put it simply,  he’s a Muppet.

Walter finds solace in watching the Muppet Show because he feels like he fits in, obviously.  So he becomes a super fan.

Now, a few years down the road, Gary is taking his girlfriend

Mary (Amy Adams) to Los Angeles for their 10-year anniversary of dating, which seems like a long time.  I don’t know.  Digressions …

Anyway, Gary invites Walter to come and tour the Muppet studio in LA, and when they get there to find the studio run down and rusted out, not to mention a conniving oil baron (played by Chris Cooper) trying to seize the land to drill for oil that’s conveniently underneath the studios, they take action.  Walter, Gary and Mary set out to reunite Kermit and the gang to put on one last show to raise enough money to keep the studio alive.

“The Muppets” could’ve easily slipped into unoriginality, but it didn’t, and that’s due in part to both the franchise’s inimitable characters and the care that Segel put into the script.  While Segel makes it clear that no one probably loves the Muppets as much as he does, he makes it so you want to try really hard.

It’s actually a pretty emotional movie, but the emotion doesn’t simply derive from the nostalgia surrounding the Muppets and their history.

It’s more about the viewer genuinely wanting these characters to succeed and be happy, and if that can be accomplished with puppets rather than actual humans, then I think you’ve got something really special on your hands.

Literally.