The Muppets (2011, James Bobin)

The Muppets is confused.

The screenplay from Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller oscillates between being this lame story about Segel and his brother, a Muppet named Walter (indistinctly performed by Peter Linz), and his girlfriend (Amy Adams) and a better story of the Muppets reuniting.

The better story is, unfortunately, not exactly good. There are some good moments, but Segel and Stoller take a very serious approach to the Muppets. Kermit is a, well, hermit. Gonzo and Piggy have sold out. Fozzie’s working in Reno. Rowlf doesn’t even get a backstory; it’s hard not to read into that slight, since Rowlf was previously the symbol of Jim Henson’s legacy.

But the good stuff in The Muppets can’t outweigh the bad. Segel gives a weak performance, but he’s still leagues ahead of Adams. Adams is shockingly bad and creepily artificial. Neither character matters to the film and much of The Muppets is Segel and Stoller forcing their story into the picture.

Most of the human performances are bad. Chris Cooper is awful, maybe even worse than Adams.

Only Rashida Jones is good and she’s barely in it.

Watching The Muppets, I tried to imagine watching it again and could not. Segel and Stoller have some really stupid details and, until Kermit shows up, the film is pretty dreadful. Bobin is a bad director.

As for the Muppets… Without the original performers, Muppets feels even more like a corporate construction.

It’s not a complete failure, but it’s too close to being one.

3 Comments

  1. Matthew Hurwitz

    I liked it better than Muppets From Space. You’re right though, Segel and Adams felt like an intrusion. Just one less scene with her and / or Segel could’ve meant another for, say, Gonzo or Rowlf, which is ostensibly the point of the film. Segel had a lot of fake humility in the publicity interviews I heard – “Oh this film isn’t about me, it’s about bringing back the legacy of – ” Yeh, sure. Almost.

  2. Peter Zachos

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the incalculably atrocious songs. Walter’s one solo may have elicited some frogs (not Kermit, thankfully) in some throats. The rest is puerile trash. Adams’ “Me-Party” song single-handedly destroys the film, which was already beyond saving by that point in the story. McKenzie’s lack of talent is an affront to popular music.

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