Thanks to the good folks at 365 Twin Cities, I got to attend a sneak preview of The Muppets tonight. I've been looking forward to this movie for a while now; the trailers that they've been releasing have been absolutely genius, such as the Green Lantern parody or the Dragon Tattoo parody. I hoped that the same silly genius would carry over to the movie itself. Truth be told, I'm not sure what I think of what I saw tonight. It was okay.
My problem, I think, came from the first part of the movie. Kermit the Frog said it best this past weekend on SNL when Jason Segel hosted: "When people go to a Muppet movie, they say, 'Gee, I can't wait to see the human!'" Except what Kermit said sarcastically, I think the writers took seriously. Let me put it this way: recently I watched The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan with my son. Both of those movies started with Kermit. Not this movie. Instead, it started with Walter and his human brother, Gary (played by Jason Segel). Kermit and company didn't show up until much further in.
In some ways, I get it. It made sense, given the overall plot: Walter, Gary, and Gary's long-time girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams) go to LA ostensibly for Gary and Mary's "we've-been-dating-for-10-years" anniversary. But once there, Walter learns that a rich oil baron is going to destroy the old Muppet studios (including the iconic theater) to drill for oil. Horrified, Walter convinces his brother and his girlfriend to round up the old Muppet gang, starting with Kermit, so they can save the studio.
But even with that decent premise, the film lurched in the early going. I blame the humans, personally. We don't go to a Muppet movie for human-related drama. Instead, we go to see anthropomorphic animals made out of felt have relationship drama. And boy, do they pack in some rather . . . well, I don't want to say "adult themes." Let's just say there was some stuff put in there that was meant for the adults. I can honestly say I don't think I've seen anything quite so heavy in previous Muppet movies. And the ending . . . well, wow.
There were some bright spots. Some of the cameos were genius (one in particular). And there were some great "breaking the fourth wall" moments, plus nods to previous movies.
I don't know. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I went into this movie. I'm pretty sure that this wasn't it. Not totally. But I hope this doesn't sink the Muppets, because if there's one thing that I realized as I was watching this: I missed them.