(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing posters of various Muppet movies and pictures of things about to be mentioned. "Orpheus in the Underworld - Overture" by Jacques Offenbach plays throughout)
Doug (vo): Everybody knows the Muppets and everybody loves them. But after a few films that didn't do so great, suddenly, the Muppets became really unpopular. Okay, nobody hated them or anything, but they definitely weren't pulling in all the numbers. Once in a while, you see them on a commercial or two, but they weren't really in movies, or shows, or anything like that anymore.
(Trailer clips and stills from "The Muppets" (2011) are shown next)
Doug (vo): This is why the reboot movie, called "The Muppets", was such a big deal. Not only were they trying to get people interested again, but they threw as much time and effort into it as possible. We're talking big musical numbers, celebrities, emotional moments, new material mixed with old material, commercials and advertisements everywhere you went. And, thankfully, it paid off. But not just because it was really, really funny and creative, but because it was brilliantly and brutally honest about people's acceptance of the Muppets recently.
Doug (vo): Two brothers named Walter and Gary, one of them kind of obviously adopted, are going on a vacation to Los Angeles, one of the reasons being that Walter's biggest dream is to become a Muppet. But he finds out that The Muppets Studio is about to be closed and bought up by an evil tycoon, so he rushes to get all the Muppets back together to put on a great big show to raise money to keep it around. The problem is, all the Muppets have gone their separate ways. Why? Well, because nobody cares about the Muppets anymore. Yeah, they're pretty harsh in hammering in how not popular they are. But Walter still believes in them, as does Gary...well, sort of. He really just wants a vacation with his girlfriend Mary, but also wants to help his brother out, and...yeah, you can see the obvious problem here. Will they be able to put on a show and raise enough money so that they won't lose the studio? Oh, what do you think? Well...actually, it doesn't turn out exactly how you think, but...in a way, it kind of does, but...in some ways, it's really clever, and other ways, it's kind of a cop-out, but...okay, that's a whole another video.
Doug (vo): Let's talk about the movie in general. The movie is a send-up to the classic traditional Muppet films, like The Muppet Movie or The Great Muppet Caper or Muppets Take Manhattan. The comedy is straightforward, but also strange, simple, but with a lot of fourth wall jokes, and does a wonderful job at combining old tricks with new tricks, classic humor with more modern humor. But that's only what makes it good. What makes it great are the emotional moments. This movie will make you feel sad that you ever didn't look at the Muppets. There are so many song sequences and moments of them just remembering the good old days, trying to figure out what went wrong. Did they go south or did the people just leave? Something like this can get a little too heavy-handed, but they do it at just the right balance. Every single time they have a song trying to remember what happened, there's always another song that's very upbeat and funny and, again, kind of like the classic Muppet movies. It's this kind of clever directness that makes us appreciate them so much more. When they get set up to sing "The Rainbow Connection", it's a big tearjerking scene. But the great thing about it is that it doesn't all rely on nostalgia. There's new stuff as well. The new songs are really great. Hell, one of them got nominated for an Academy Award*.
*(Note: The song he mentioned was "Man or Muppet", which ended up winning that Oscar)
Doug (vo): The new techniques are great, combining modern day technology with, well, still the fact that they're foam puppets. And it's a good combination. They feel alive, they feel real, even though we know they're obviously just hands in foam. But their personalities are still so strong and so likeable that you just totally overlook it and accept the madness.
(Various clips continue to show, before briefly showing a still of the main villain of the film)
Doug (vo): Is it flawless? Not really. There are a few nitpicks. For example, there might be one too many songs. I remember one sequence that Chris Cooper has, I just remember scratching my head saying, "What is the purpose of this? It's not especially funny, it doesn't further anything, it's just kind of a weird detour." Now, don't get me wrong. Most of the Muppet movies had weird detours, and, yeah, I kind of had a problem with that, too. It doesn't mean I don't have a problem with it here.
(Stills of Walter are shown)
Doug (vo): Also, I get the idea that they want Walter to look more human, but I don't know. I think he's a very unimaginative-looking Muppet. They had him around for a while, but then, when they did the new Muppet show, they didn't even include him in that. He's by no means a bad character, he's just kind of a bland, wide-eyed innocent. He's needed for the story, and he's fine, he's just not that unique. I also don't like that his talent at the end seems to rip off Malcolm in the Middle, but, hey, everybody's ripping off Malcolm in the Middle nowadays.
(A poster for the TV show, The Middle, is shown)
Doug (vo): But probably, my biggest issue is the ending, and I'll do my best to talk about it without giving anything away. It looks like they're gonna go in this one direction, this direction that isn't the 100% happy ending, but it's kind of the idea that, "we'll move on, we'll get past this, we're still a family, we're still close, we'll still do great things". I thought that was really inspiring and a great angle. But then, at the last minute, literally during the credits, they just retconned the whole thing, and there's the 100% happy ending they were just saying they weren't gonna do. That drives me nuts! Why did they have to go that route? They could've done something really new and really different! But does it really ruin anything? I don't think so. It's just sort of an ending that I wish could've been a little different.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): The majority of the movie hits all the marks it's supposed to hit. When you're supposed to laugh, you laugh. When you're supposed to feel sad, you feel sad. When you're supposed to enjoy a really energetic song sequence, you do. When it's supposed to be slow and dramatic, it pays off. When it's supposed to be fast and energetic, it's really enjoyable. I really like how the writing and the direction and the jokes are so similar to those first three Muppet films, yet it isn't just a mindless retread, they throw in new stuff as well. It's a really, really good balance. From soothing song numbers to pointless celebrity cameos to looking right in the camera and making a joke to the audience, it's the Muppets and they're right back on track. If you loved them at their best, you're definitely gonna love them here.
(A scene showing the three main characters and nearly all the Muppets sitting together in a moving car is shown)