To paraphrase my son, “The kids love The Muppets.” To date, my own children have seen the film at least ten times (including once in the theaters) while I’ve watched it twice. I suppose if I’d had a video copy of The Muppet Movie (1979’s original, and still best Muppet film), I’d have watched it ad naseum no matter how many movies are stashed under the television. Is The Muppets as sharp as its predecessors? Perhaps not. But I don’t think that was the intent. From what I’ve read, Jason Segel, the star actor who loves puppets (see Forgetting Sarah Marshall) was intent on introducing/reawakening the love of Jim Henson’s creations after he achieved fame and some Hollywood clout. Along with co-writer, Nicholas Stoller, director James Bobin and a cast of lovable characters, this amiable family comedy accomplishes what Segel set out to do.
I loved this movie when I saw it in theaters. It’s only after a second (and a half) viewing that I noticed some of its shortcomings: too much focus on the human characters (Amy Adams, one of the most enjoyable actresses around, is completely wasted); too many cliche 80’s rock songs (“Bad to the Bone?” Really?); and some weird plot holes (if Gonzo is a multimillionaire, can’t he help save the Muppet theater? Just sayin’.) Still, The Muppets has more than enough laughs and some great songs by Flight of the Concords’ Bret McKenzie (I can’t get the bridge from “Man or Muppet” out of my head). I shouldn’t be critical, as I’m not really the intended audience of this movie. Sure, Segel and friends made this movie as hip as possible. But you could still feel the long arm of Disney reeling in the humor so that it was a little more vanilla.
As I write this, my kids are in the living room watching The Muppets yet again, this time with one of their cousins. I imagine I’ll be seeing this film (or hearing it) continuously for the next year so. In addition, both of my children couldn’t wait for me to download the film’s soundtrack (which comes free as a part of the “Wocka Wocka” Blu-ray combo pack). All of this is fine by me. Whether it’s the classic series, a shot of Kermit riding his bike (in the original Muppet movie), the Muppet babies, the Muppets in space, the many Muppet adaptations of famous books, or Fozzie walking in fart shoes, Jim Henson’s creations always bring out the kid in all of us and the world is a better place when the Muppets are around.
The last hour of The Muppets, when “The Muppet Telethon” takes over the movie, took me back to the many Saturday nights my family sat around the TV, laughing and tapping our feet to The Muppet Show. It’s a series that I remember seeing when it was airing for the first time, not just on home video, like the characters in the film. If this film allows me to someday introduce my children to that classic variety show, I’ll be a very happy man. Moreover, when the time comes that they ask to hear the original version of the barbershop quartet song (“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” in case you forgot), that will be a good day, too.
This “Wocka Wocka” Blu-ray combo pack is superb. In addition to the Blu-ray, DVD and digital download, there is the aforementioned soundtrack that you get to download, plus tons of special features, including deleted scenes, bloopers and interviews. The additional footage shot that plays when you pause the film is just as entertaining as the special features. A great deal of love and care went into the production of this particular home video release and it makes for a great purchase for any household, be it one full of kids or grown up Muppet fans.