So a kid named Walter and his brother Gary are huge fans of the Muppets. Walter is especially fond of the show – obsessed might be a better word for it – because he is a Muppet-like puppet himself who never grew taller or older during his childhood. As a result of his…condition? Walter is very dependent on his brother Gary, to the point that they still live together in the same house. Gary does have a girlfriend named Mary, and to celebrate their ten year anniversary they decide to take a trip to Los Angeles. Gary even invites Walter along so that he can visit the old Muppet Theater, where the TV show they watched together as kids was filmed. (Mary clearly isn’t thrilled that Walter is tagging along, and you get the impression that, well, Walter has done a lot of tagging along over the years. But she puts a smile on her face and acts like everything is just peachy.)
When the trio arrives at the theater, Walter is shocked by how shoddily it has been maintained. He sneaks into one of the old buildings and stumbles across a nefarious business scheme: an evil oil magnate named Tex Richman plans to buy the property and destroy it so that he can get to the oil underneath. When he recovers from his shock, Walter convinces Gary and Mary to help him save the theater. Their first stop is at the home of Kermit the Frog, whom they quickly convince to gather the rest of the Muppet gang together. But even as the Muppets assemble, their problems multiply. Miss Piggy refuses to return, having set up a new career in Paris that she’s disinclined to leave. The Muppets can’t find a network willing to air their telethon fundraiser. The Muppet Theater is still in a horrific state of disrepair. Kermit can’t even find a celebrity host to join them. Somehow, the Muppets have to pull everything together so that they can raise the ten million dollars needed to save their home.
What can I say? It’s a really cute movie. If you did grow up watching the Muppets, then the characters are already familiar, and the pure nostalgia of seeing the gang together enough will be enough to float you off to a happy place. On the flip side, if you’ve never seen the Muppets I imagine this movie would be a roller coaster of confusion. Well, perhaps not. Clearly, part of the reason this movie exists is to introduce the Muppets to a new generation, and it does a good job of quickly sketching out the characters’ personalities.
I was surprised when the characters burst into song for the first musical number, “Life’s a Happy Song”. I mean, it’s an adorable song, and I love that the entire city of Smalltown sings and dances alongside Gary as he goes to pick Mary up from the school she teaches at. But for some reason, I hadn’t realized that the movie was a musical. (Which seems stupid, because of course a Muppets movie is going to be a musical. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.)
On that note, Amy Adams must have this magical power that makes people sing and dance when she’s around. I mean, remember that awesome scene in Enchanted? Seeing her character in “Life’s a Happy Song” is just like seeing Giselle again, although Mary quickly develops into her own personality.
The movie is quite funny, naturally. The Muppets breaks the fourth wall a lot, as characters talk to the audience and make comments like, “Oh, this is going to be a short movie.” It also makes you laugh because the songs are so fun and clever with wordplay. Plus, y’know, talking puppets. Some of the funniest bits stem from the simple fact that the premise is so odd. I mean, how exactly is Walter the Muppet-like puppet ‘born’? Where did he come from? I guess the only reason he was able to live a ‘normal’ childhood – such as it was – was because he lived in Smalltown, the sort of hamlet that only exists in vague cultural memories of a fictional, wholesome Leave it to Beaver America.
Also, who knew there were so many Muppets? Or, even stranger, I was able to recognize most of them. I’m not just talking about well-known Muppets like Kermit or Piggy or Swedish Chef; there’s also Mad Harry and Wayne and Wanda and all sorts of bit characters that I knew, even though I don’t think they do very much.
I wonder if Walter will appear in future Muppet movies. At the end of this film, he's clearly joined up with the gang, so it wouldn't be surprising. His 'special talent' that he discovers just in time to save the telethon is a bit out of left field, though! Were there any clues about it earlier in the movie?