THE MUPPETS – Film Review [Walt Disney Pictures]

The consistency of Muppet lore stretches with the idea of the life and times of these characters as a kind of in-joke to the themes of the entertainment industry but with a distinctive off-kilter twist. In bringing back the humor to the notion of the early 80s where both kids and adults could enjoy the films shows a similarity to Pixar in many ways. One has to have enough reverence for the material but also be willing to break a couple rules.

Some things fall short and others feel dated in this update but for the most part, despite the odds stacked against it, the new “Muppets” movie delivers on its promise though it does so by using alot of narrative short-cuts but openly displays them as plot devices.

What has caused The Muppets to regains its popularity, mostly through You Tube, is its penchance to be able to speak on pop culture and satirize it, most specifically movies and music which are currently in the consciousness. That is what made “The Muppet Show” great because it had the ability to do that with the actual stars of the day. While certain elements of that are explored in the new movie, it is a woefully missing element overall which can only be done in a TV show setting like Henson had in the late 70s. Unfortunately, that kind of creative freedom is extinct on TV.

That said, using the old studio system structure of a movie exploring the backstage of putting a show together was a smart move by writer/star Jason Segel as was the introduction of a external Muppet character in the form of his brother which really offers an eye into this idea. This character just wants to go to Hollywood to find The Muppets who were the stalwart and love of his childhood.

Granted the musical sequences are beyond corny but there is, at times, a distinct charm to them especially during a twin sequence that looks like a twisted version of “Ebony & Ivory”. While there are not a whole lot of cameos, the two that count, in the form of Jack Black and Zach Galifinakis, go a long way. The importance of Hobo Joe in the film cannot be overstated.

When the curtain goes up and the widescreen element of the actual opening credits of “The Muppet Show” are recreated as they were for this generation, it is immensely gratifying, helped by the fact that this screening itself was held at the El Capitan Theater which was what was used as the facade for the actual Muppet Theater in the movie.

Segel and Company deserve praise for being able to jump start back the elements of yesteryear and then back away to let the Muppets shine. While certain ones only get a bit of play, others (like Animal and Beeker) need to blow it out a bit more. The balance however gives the movie a distinctly nostalgic field while retaining a contemporary glow.

B

First Look: ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Walt Disney Pictures

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Walt Disney Pictures just provided IR with a new still from the upcoming 3D live action feature “Alice In Wonderland” directed by Tim Burton (“Sweeney Todd”) and starring the pictured Mia Wasikowska as the title character . The movie will unfurl March 5, 2010.

First Look: A CHRISTMAS CAROL – Walt Disney Pictures

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Walt Disney Pictures just provided IR with this new still from the upcoming motion capture 3D Animated “A Christmas Carol” directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Beowulf”). The selected shot shows Scrooge (played by Jim Carrey) carrying Tiny Tim (played by Gary Oldman). The film is to be release on November 6th.