Inevitable Gripes with “The Muppets”


I liked it, but I have a few gripes. It’s not a great movie by any means, but it was fun and funny enough to get me through, and nostalgic enough to get me to feel good while watching it. It’s a solid “B,” and that’s really fine. Really.

But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t find a few things to complain about in whatever I’m watching, so here we go, internet.

Le Gripes:

1.) Shared Spotlight Stars. In comparison with previous Muppet movies, the Muppets themselves were more like co-headliners. I think this comes down to the simple fact that it was written by non-puppeteers. Had it been written by puppeteers (Oz or Henson or whoever), it would have been ABOUT the Muppets, not INCLUDING the Muppets. Which leads me to…

2.) Weirdly Unambitious Direction. Yeah, your dancing looks great. But (again) had this been written/directed by a puppeteer, the musical numbers would have been less about seeing humans dancing and more about “How can we get our puppet characters to dance — full body, on camera?” There were none of those “Wow! Kermit on a bike!” type of moments, and I think that’s just the limitation of the writers’ perception.

3.) Less-Fully-Dimensional Kermit. This is a little thing, and I only noticed it thinking about it later, but Kermit was pretty much just an “Aw shucks” guy the whole time. Kind of a sad sack. And it’s not that you can’t make him sad, but it was very one note. And while I know it’s not fair to compare this movie to a Henson-produced movie. . . but I can’t help it. In “The Muppet Movie” and “Great Muppet Caper” and that sort, there were parts where Kermit was “Aw shucks,” then he was scared, and angry and introspective and confrontational and heroic. Once again, this might have to do with the distance the writers/directors had from the source material, and maybe they handled Kermit a little too gingerly, out of the respect they have for the character as outsiders. But if Kermit’s creator had handled him/this movie, I think more dimensions would have been explored. I imagine this is the type of thing that Frank Oz wasn’t crazy about, and why he didn’t sign on (actually, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t sign on anyway, but that’s his bag) (baby).

4.) Payoffs of Nothing/Little. Little things could have been done to make the finale feel more like a FINALE. We didn’t know, going in, that Walter was good at whistling, did we? And it’s never really said (though mostly known by the adults in the audience) that Scooter doesn’t go on stage> The only real pay-off is with Animal — and this might contribute to me liking Animal more in this movie than any other time. You knew what was going to happen, but I enjoyed the set-up and holding back because that’s the game. Everyone else it was just like, “Remember that nothing ahead of time? Well, now do something and YAY!”

5.) B-level cameos. This is REALLY judgmental, but I’m assuming that’s why you wanted to know my opinion: the cameos of the past movies — at least the first three — were movie stars. Mel Brooks, Steve Martin, Orson freakin’ Welles. . . these are big names, then and now. For “The Muppets” they got Jack Black, true, and. . . TV stars.  The guy from “Community,” Ann from “Parks & Rec,” Neil Patrick Harris and Jim from “The Office,” Manny from “Modern Family” and that Selena Gomez girl, who I mostly know for dating The Bieb. They did get Whoopie Goldberg, but Whoopie of 2011 is better known for being on “The View” than for anything else. Seriously, the “Spy Kids” movies have better movie-star cameos than “The Muppets.”


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