The Muppets are a small part of my memories of when I was a lot younger. Their Muppet Show ran from 1976 till 1981 and it was broadcast on Dutch TV by the KRO starting in 1977. Now I doubt I saw it that early, but I do remember watching it weekly somewhere in the eighties. I always enjoyed the show and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen when Gonzo was supposed to blow his trumpet. I also watched the Muppet Babies cartoons which had a lot of imagination in their stories (and some crossovers with movies as there was an Indiana Jones related one).
I didn’t see much of the Muppet movies back then (really only the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppets From Space which I both like), so have been catching up with all of them. I have to say I’m not a fan of the newer ones (Treasure Island/Wizard of Oz and the other Christmas one), but the first three were quite enjoyable (which I only saw a couple of weeks ago). Now the Muppets are back and the question is whether this movie manages to bring back that feeling I had during the eighties?
The movie introduces us to Walter and his brother Gary (Jason Segel). The strange thing is that Walter is a muppet and once he sees the Muppet Show on TV he becomes one of their biggest fans. When Gary wants to take his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to LA to celebrate their anniversary he asks Walter along who sees it as a chance to go to the Muppet Theater. It turns out that all the Muppet magic is no longer present and it’s up to these three to get the Muppets back together and put on a show to make enough money, which will prevent the theater getting demolished by an oil magnate.
It takes a while before the Muppets appear and by the time they show up you’ve already seen a couple of song and dance numbers performed and I really didn’t like them. Somehow they felt clinical and were lacking any heart. Now I don’t mind musicals, but here it really didn’t work for me.
The next issue I had with this movie was that it turns out the Muppets had grown apart. To me this really goes against the nature of these characters who always are together and there for each other. It felt wrong that Kermit would be living alone in a big mansion and that he refuses to speak with Miss Piggy. So for the first half of the movie, when the Muppets are brought back together, I really couldn’t enjoy it. Sure there were a couple of funny situations, but it left me feeling cold. Only when the actual Muppet Show started it seemed some of that old magic seemed to return, but a big part for me was nostalgic sentiment.
The Muppets felt only partly like a Muppet movie, they were not the focus for a big part of the movie and I think that was a shame. Especially since the relationship between Gary and Mary wasn’t really that interesting. This movie does offer some Muppet magic, but not enough for me to feel the need to revisit it. I wanted to love this movie, but unfortunately wasn’t able to.