May 25, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 01 December 2011 14:46
Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help parents choose what to share. This week’s pick is a new family film, The Muppets.For families with young children, the Muppets were the most celebrated characters of the 1980s and 1990s. From their memorable portrayals on Sesame Street to a delightful television series and a collection of fun films, these imaginative heroes inspired us to create a kinder world. But tastes change and they all but disappeared from view after the disappointing Muppets From Space movie more than 10 years ago. And those of us who love these characters have sorely missed them.
The new film The Muppets beautifully rekindles our love for these creatures by using their actual narrative as the basis for their reel-time adventure. We don’t have to use our imaginations to realize how long it has been since we enjoyed their patter and performing. The movie celebrates our memories of the joy they delivered as it creates an appealing new story about their comeback. The result is a delightful family film that everyone should enjoy.
The Muppets works because of its familiarity and freshness. A new character named Walter, who wonders if he is a Muppet, joins his human brother (Jason Segel) and girlfriend (Amy Adams) on their vacation to Los Angeles. After performing one of the film’s delightful production numbers, the trio decides to visit the once-famous Muppets studio in Hollywood to, hopefully, catch a glimpse of a favorite character. But time has dispersed the Muppet troupe to all kinds of places while a greedy oilman — played by Chris Cooper — plans to raze the studio to drill for oil. Now the only chance to save the facility is to reunite the cast for one more television show.
Director James Bobin uses this framework to give us everything we would hope from a Muppet reunion. All of the characters ultimately return, from the ever-humble Kermit who lives in a dilapidated mansion to the self-centered Miss Piggy who pampers herself in Paris, along with such favorites as Gonzo, Fozzie Bear and Pepe the Prawn. As they prepare for the reunion, and clown and sing as they always did, the characters remind us why we loved them in the first place. And the reunion show itself — featuring the hilarious Jack Black as the host — is icing on the cake.
Those of us who remember more Muppet moments than we may care to admit may, actually, enjoy the film more than young children less familiar with the characters. But the movie works well no matter your command of Muppets trivia because Bobin, Segel and co-writer Nicholas Stoller so creatively balance the past and present. They successfully bring back many memories as they create new ones, even offering two performances of the classic “The Rainbow Connection” as well as new songs.
Perhaps the ultimate demonstration of the magic of The Muppets is how, after returning home, I wanted to immediately start watching classic Muppet films. And what’s your favorite? Mine is The Great Muppet Caper with Miss Piggy is at her devilish best. My, how I have missed these characters. Thank goodness the Muppets are back on screen where they belong.
* Content: High. For all of us who love The Muppets, the approach to their reunion is pitch perfect.
* Entertainment: High. The film lives up to all we might expect from a revival of this most unique collection of characters.
* Message: High. While this is not a message picture, it does promote positive feelings about friendship and commitment.
* Relevance: Medium. While the film rekindles good feelings about the Muppets it may not appeal to those less familiar with the characters.
* Opportunity for Dialogue: High. After you share this film, talk with your children about what makes the Muppets so special, a special blend of humor and humility.
The Muppets is rated PG for some “mild rude humor” and runs 98 minutes.
4 Popcorn Buckets
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