At one point in the writing process, I considered putting this review to song—that’s how much I enjoyed The Muppets, opening in theatres Wednesday. It’s the best comedy of the year.
Jason Segal and co. have done for the Muppets what J.J. Abrams did for Star Trek: revitalize a massively popular franchise that had lost its way. James Bobin brings a thoroughly hip directorial style to the film.
But the film isn’t a conventional reboot either; the story draws much from the Muppets’ past stardom. And past it is at the start: Fozzie Bear is quasi-homeless in Reno.
Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the gang are soon extracted from their decades-long funk through the dedication of their number one fan, Walter. A new Muppet himself, Walter is the most lovable on screen character since WALL-E (or maybe Dug).
Supporting roles Gary (played by co-writer Segal), Mary (Amy Adams), Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) and TV exec Veronica (Rashida Jones) bring an endearing sitcom-like quality to the film but never overshadow our felt friends.
Are you getting it? Everything about this movie works! Characters, story, script, visuals and… the music!
“Life’s a Happy Song” is a lock for the Best Original Song Oscar, though it might get some competition from Kermit’s sentimental “Pictures in My Head”. If at least two of the film’s songs aren’t performed in their entirety at the Oscars, the Academy needs to be shut down.
The Muppets should be an Oscar and Golden Globe contender in several other categories as well, including Best Picture. If I were running Disney’s awards campaigns, there would be a massive effort to get it nominated for the top awards.
Disney would be crazy not to greenlight a sequel, if they haven’t already. At a reported $40 million, The Muppets’ budget was a fraction of that of a Pixar feature. The box office potential is just as big.
Once all but forgotten, Jim Henson’s Muppets are poised to become a new star franchise for Disney with myriad opportunities in film, TV, merchandising, and parks. Let’s hope that happens.
Note: Pixar’s latest Toy Story Toon, Small Fry, is attached to The Muppets. For me it was a very rare disappointment from the studio. (I liked Cars 2.) You can read my review here.