Save Muppet Babies reruns on Nickelodeon when I was a kid and very dim recollections of Muppet Treasure Island at after-school care, I didn’t really grow up with the Muppets. I mean, I arbitrarily decided Miss Piggy was my favorite because I was the kind of kid who absolutely had to call the girl in the group her favorite no matter what (though now I know that Miss Piggy is a bitch; I kind of developed a soft spot during the film for the one with glasses who stage-managed, just because really, that’s the kind of adult I am) but that’s about the extent of it. Regardless, I was pretty interested in The Muppets, and that’s largely thanks to Jason Segel and Amy Adams, but hey. If it works.
I knew Jason Segel could rock puppets (thank you, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and I knew Amy Adams could sing and be adorable. My expectations? They were met and surpassed. They made a pretty cute little couple, and I’m pretty sure Amy Adams is the dictionary definition of “cute as a button.” (Also, I loved it that she was so adept at fixing things. Just give her some tools and she’d rig anything up no problem. While still looking precious. My kind of girl.) The opening number was the best kind of tongue-in-cheek yet perfectly innocent musical movie fun, and Amy’s little lament that followed was darling.
The best thing about this movie, overall, is how absolutely, gosh darned earnest it is. It knows it’s silly, that much is clear, but it’s also just going to go out there and darn it, they’re gonna Put On A Show! It’s kind of like a bunch of puppets doing the modern day version of “I have a barn and Jimmy can write the songs and Anne will make the costumes!” And that’s pretty adorable.
Tying into the knowing it’s silly is the metafiction-ness of it. Now, not knowing the Muppets too well, I can’t say if this is standard. But I couldn’t even count how many times they made self-aware jokes, like “I know! I just sang a song about it!” or “Didn’t you see the other movie?” or “Let’s travel by map!” It’s just showing the audience that they know they’re ridiculous, they know they’re goofy, but they’re gonna have fun with it. (That, and I’m just a sucker for meta jokes.)
I can’t spoil the movie too much, because it’s actually worth seeing, but I will say that much adorable ensued. There were a lot of cameo appearances, and some of them (Selena Gomez, that kid from Modern Family) I didn’t give a damn about, but some of them (Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, Emily Blunt) made me really happy. And Rashida Jones. I didn’t really care what she did in the movie when I heard she was in it, because I think she’s darling (especially with glasses intermittently on her face), but I was happy to have her there and embracing the innocent and sweet message so fully.
And the song about being a Muppet or a man? Well, Walter the puppet brother’s human alter ego… I won’t spoil it, but it was kind of perfect and brilliant and made me laugh harder than I’ve laughed in the theatre in ages.
–your fangirl heroine.