Sunday, June 16, 2013
Day One Hundred and Sixty-seven - The Muppet Movie, "Awww, sweet, sweet nostalgia... plus Mel Brooks!"
There may be days I'm not really in the mood for their wholesome, sometimes subversive family entertainment, but I would much prefer them to pretty much any kids oriented film, brand, or series in existence.
Nominally telling the tale of how The Muppets got started in showbiz, The Muppet Movie plops the viewer right in the middle of its self-referential humor by opening with the Muppets themselves screening their own movie for the first time, with Robin the Frog innocently asking if the film really is the truth of their start to his uncle Kermit.
"Approximately," is his reply... and it's that kind of whimsy that I just love about the movie and The Muppets as a whole.
As the film progresses, we treated to the first meetings of most of the main Muppet Show crew, including Kermit, Fozzy, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, and (my favorites) Dr.Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.
Additionally, there are guest spots from so very many great comedians and movie stars from the aforementioned Mel Brooks to Bob Hope, Madeline Kahn, Edgar Bergen, and more!
While each human actor only makes brief appearances, as with most Muppet Show themed movies, just having them there, contributing to the sweet whimsy that are The Muppets, is tremendously endearing. Seeing Orson Welles stare down The Muppets and Steve Martin rudely serve Kermit and Piggy at the very least will illicit a smile.
That's not to say the film doesn't have its weaknesses.
The Doc Hopper subplot is a bit too dumbed down for my tastes, despite Charles Durning's perfectly acceptable turn as a stereotypical villain only out for himself. As a conflict, it intersects with the main narrative of following one's dreams too often and to too little effect, especially in the third act when Hopper hires a frog assassin.
Then there are the minor troubles within The Muppets, mainly concerning Piggy and Kermit. Their second act dinner date that ends with a small action sequence (with Mel Brooks!) ends on way to huge a downer that is basically ignored five minutes later when the boys find her again on the road, Miss Piggy having abandoned Kermit after getting a commercial gig right after she saves them both from Hopper's thugs. There's absolutely no explanation as to why she's hitchhiking and no mention of her commercial ever again.
It was just jarringly weird.
For one last weakness, I have to call attention to the songs. While I adore both the opening and closing versions of Rainbow Connection and Moving Right Along, the rest of the soundtrack is boring and uninspired.
Still, the movie's strengths outweigh those criticisms pretty handily. It is overall very entertaining and its penchant for puns and plays on both words and situations is just too delightful not to love. It's cute, irreverent, and altogether adorable, being worth the watch both for the nostalgia and the good, old fashioned family fun.
I just wish the message of following one's dreams wasn't drowned out by the silliness.
Until tomorrow, Potatoes~