Plot: When the old Muppet theater is scheduled to be torn down so a rich oil tycoon (Chris Cooper) can dig for oil, the Muppets get back together. With the help of their new friends, Gary (Jason Segal) and his brother Walter (Peter Linz, voice), the Muppets put on one last show to save their theater.
There’s no doubt this is the best Muppet movie since The Muppets Take Manhattan way back in 1984…but it could have been better. Don’t get me wrong: I had a blast with this film. Every time the Muppets are on screen, they are at the top of their game. Every Muppet related gag hits those Muppet high notes. What hinders this from being great though are the non-Muppet moments. It’s not that these moments are bad, but I found myself asking, ‘Why am I settling for this? Just go back to the Muppets!’
Jason Segal plays Gary, an upbeat teacher who lives in the small town known as…Smalltown. He’s got a girlfriend named Mary (Amy Adams), and a brother Walter, who is actually a puppet, and you guessed it, a huge fan of the Muppets. Here’s the problem: They dominate the first 15-20 minutes of the film, including a huge musical number. And like I said, it’s not that these scenes are bad, but they are mediocre. I don’t understand why they are getting extended screen time for a film called The Muppets. I really don’t care about Gary and Walter, I’m sorry. What really irked me though is once the actual Muppets show up, these characters are still on screen for a fair amount of time. That’s really ridiculous. Once the Muppets arrive, it’s really time to let them take over the film, yet we are still peppered with Gary and Mary-centric musical numbers. I want the Muppets!
Now like I said, every thing involving the Muppets is damn good. My favorite part of the film is just gathering up all the Muppets, and seeing what they’ve been up to. Fozzie’s (Eric Jacobson, voice) nightclub act is brilliant, Gonzo’s (Dave Goelz, voice) plumbing business is hilarious, and Animal (Eric Jacobson, voice)…well, I’m not going to spoil what Animal’s been up to, but it’s really funny. And it’s not just the main Muppets who have their time in the spotlight. Muppets like Statler (Steve Whitmire, voice) & Waldorf (Dave Goelz, voice), Beaker (Steve Whitmire, voice) and Roowlf (Matt Vogel, voice) all have awesome moments. And as much as I’m complaining about the non-Muppet characters having too many scenes, I don’t feel like any Muppet got short changed. Gonzo is really only in two scenes, but they are fantastic scenes. Even with limited screen time, every Muppet leaves their mark.
Even with all the Muppets though, this film was a bit cheapened by too many celebrity cameos. To the film’s credit, I like a lot of the cameos such as Jack Black, Rashida Jones, Zack Galifianakis and Neil Patrick Harris, who only has one line, but it’s probably the best thing he could have said. But there are so many useless cameos just for the sake of having cameos: Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, John Krasinski and James Carville. Really?! James Carville?! He’s just there answering a telephone! Is that necessary! Even Donald Glover from Community, who I really like as an actor, randomly comes in, and there’s just no point to it. Stuff like that really annoyed me. It’s just so self-indulgent.
One of the performances I did really like though was Chris Cooper as the evil oil tycoon. Cooper was perfect, and this wasn’t just some random cameo, he actually played a key character, so that was fine.
At the end of the day, this is a Muppet movie, and it hit me pretty hard. I just wish a lot of the celebrity cameos and hoopla were trimmed down so I could spend more quiet moments with just the Muppets. If you’re a fan of the Muppets, you will really like this movie. If you aren’t, I still think you’ll find some enjoyment, and maybe that’s why a lot of these non-Muppet characters are even in the film in the first place.
What really pissed me off though is when Kermit (Steve Whitmire, voice) has this amazing speech at the end, but it’s completely undermined by a plot point they throw in during the credits! That’s such garbage! You can’t just throw in a major resolution during the credits!! Unbelievable!!
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)