1. Will my kids like it?
Almost certainly, yes — and especially if you’ve exposed them to the Muppets before. My kids absolutely loved the movie, but they’ve seen several of the previous movies and all The Muppet Show episodes from Seasons 1 through 3. There were a few kids in the theater with my family who seemed not to have enjoyed it much, but they seemed to be primarily very young kids. As is typical of the Muppets, much of the humor is on a higher level than most kids under 6 are likely to get.
2. Will I like it?
I suppose it’s possible for someone to dislike this movie, but I honestly don’t see how. It’s sweet, occasionally poignant, and funny sometimes to the point of complete silliness. It will make you tear up in places, get chills (the good kind) in places, and will give you more to laugh and smile at than any other movie I can recall seeing in the past five years or so — and that includes Toy Story 3 and Up, both of which I loved.
If you’re a Muppets fan from youth, as I am, you’ll see a movie that rewards your loyalty with a story that celebrates The Muppet Show, and yet also finds them a place in today’s entertainment world. You’ll see a movie made with the best of the previous Muppets films (The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan) in mind. You’ll lose count of all the quick celebrity cameos. You’ll grin as you see all your old felt-and-fur friends appear. You’ll get a bit choked up when you see them restage the old Muppet Show opening, and you’ll want to stand up and cheer at the final reveal (which I would not dream of spoiling). I should warn you, though, that you will find yourself wanting a few fewer scenes with humans and a few more scenes with just Muppets.
3. It’s rated PG. All the other theatrical Muppets films have been rated G. Should I be concerned?
No. The official word is that it’s rated PG “for some mild rude humor.” Really, if you’re offended by anything in this movie, you must not ever turn on the TV, because it’s as benign as you could want. I wonder, in fact, if they didn’t ask for the PG rating so as to appeal to teens and childless adults who would likely avoid any movies rated G.
4. When’s the best time for a bathroom break?
The Muppets is a two-hour movie, so this is a real concern. The two best times are probably either:
- Right after the Muppets (most of them, anyway) get back together and are looking for a network to broadcast their telethon; or
- Just before the telethon starts, when the Muppets are begging the villain to reconsider his sinister plot.
In both cases, the outcome is fairly predictable. The second one does feature a rap done by, of all people, Chris Cooper, which is amusing in a slightly embarrassing kind of way but definitely not vital to enjoyment of the film.
5. Do I need to stay through the credits for a bonus scene at the end?
No. The first part of the end credits includes the closing musical number of the film and some final plot developments, so you’ll definitely want to stay for that. But once it transitions to just words on the screen, there’s nothing of interest left to see.
6. I heard it opens with a Toy Story short. How is it?
In a word, great. It covers a side of the toy world the movies never touched on: fast-food restaurant kid’s meal toys. It’s inventive and fast-paced, with a lot of humor packed into only a few minutes. Whatever you do, don’t miss it!
7. Will I want to see it again?
If you’re anything like me, yes. The filmmakers obviously paid a lot of attention to the background — both in terms of scenery and in what the actors not in the main shot are doing. I caught a lot of good stuff the first time through, but I’m sure I missed things, and can’t wait to see it again — partly so I can look for more hidden fun stuff (though mostly because it was just that good).
8. Level with me: Is it really modern enough for 2011? I mean, they’re still puppets, right? Does that really fly in today’s high-tech world of cinema?
Few people were as skilled as Jim Henson at blending technology and storytelling. He loved new technology, which is why he wanted to sell the Muppets to Disney back in the late ’80s — he really wanted to move on to cooler technology like CGI and sophisticated animatronics. And it would have, somewhat, cheapened the Muppets to have introduced that to their world. I find it very refreshing for a movie today to not only not have a 3-D or IMAX version, but to not even have any major CGI (the Muppets themselves are all done without computer enhancement).
That being said, the Muppets have a timeless quality to them. They’re all so sincere it’s very easy to unconsciously put aside — if not actually forget — the fact that they’re, well, puppets. As for the jokes, there are a ton of references to the ’80s and early ’90s — I can virtually guarantee your kids will look at you funny when you laugh at the barbershop quartet, because you’ll recognize what they’re singing but they probably won’t. There’s also plenty aimed at kids today, including a cameo by Selena Gomez.
9. Was there anything about the movie you didn’t like?
Sure, but nothing so bad as to detract from the overall high quality of the film. I thought Chris Cooper was a bit too over the top even for a villain who’s supposed to be over the top, and I’ll help you understand a running gag with him that otherwise won’t make sense till the end of the film: He’s so evil he can’t laugh. The musical numbers that featured mostly, or all, humans really didn’t add much to the film even if the music was generally good.
You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned the human actors much in this article. They’re very good, don’t get me wrong — Jason Segel shows a side to his acting that people who know him from Judd Apatow movies and Forgetting Sarah Marshall may be surprised to see, for example. And Amy Adams is as sparklingly good as usual, albeit in an undemanding role. But it’s the Muppets that you’re going to the film to see — at least, if you’re anything like me — so that’s where I’ve put the focus.
10. How was the music? The last few Muppets films really didn’t do so hot in the music department.
The music in this one is truly great. It doesn’t quite hit the heights of the original Muppet Movie, but it comes far closer than any of the other films have, with the possible exception of The Muppets Take Manhattan. I’ve had the song “Life’s a Happy Song” running through my head ever since the movie ended, 17 hours ago, but don’t feel like I need to get it out. That’s something I couldn’t have said about any of the songs from the last several Muppets films.
The bottom line (TL;DR): This is a very, very good film. Possibly a great film. Go see it. Tell your friends to go see it, and go see it again with them. If this movie does really well you can be pretty sure Disney will make another one, or maybe even put the Muppets back on TV. And that would be all kinds of awesome.