A biased look at an overhyped movie
I wanted to love.
I love the Muppets. I mean I really love the Muppets, but saying that now days does not mean what it used to mean. When I say I love the Muppets, the images in my head are things like Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem playing Chopin’s Polonaise in A Flat. The Swedish Chef trying to butcher a Muppet turkey in the cooking segment. Pigs in Space; Veterinarians Hospital; and the list goes on and on. Of course, there’s also Sesame Street with all the segments and characters and Muppets Tonight. Then there’s a whole other category of things like Fraggle Rock, The Story Teller, Labyrinth, and of course The Dark Crystal. There can be an argument made that they are not Muppets, so for the sake of argument, we’ll just talk about “The Muppets” from the TV and Films that we are all well aware of.
I guess that I am realizing that I like the old TV show Muppets. It was a general attitude that the show seemed to have, even taking it so far as to provide two Heckler characters, to make fun of itself. Even the short lived Muppets Tonight had some of that familiar vibe. The variety of the show kept it interesting, there were new sketches and skits all the time. They stayed fairly relevant to the era they were in. The guest stars were big name entertainers from all genres of the industry.
Looking back on the show, and watching them again as an adult, I can also see the genius in the writing. I can see now that there is no way I got those jokes as a kid, but I still like watching the show for other reasons. I can still watch the show now because it’s still funny in a whole new way. Also, it’s all new to my kid so we can watch together. Sure, there are segments that she knows well from us watching repeatedly, but when we sit through a whole episode together, there is something at for each of us at our own respective levels of understanding. You can’t say that about a lot of shows these days.
Then there are the movies. This is the world of the Muppets for me that gets a little less likeable. The first one was good. I like it, I still watch it, and I think it holds up well. For any of you that are not clear, I am talking about “The Muppet Movie” the real first one that came out in 1979. There were great running gags, set ups, and those quick jokes that the Muppet Show was so good at:
Kermit: Where did you learn to drive?
Fozzie: I took a correspondence course.
Since the release of the 1979 film, my excitement level for the films has steadily decreased with each new release. The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, even the lesser known ones like Kermit’s Swamp Years….each just seemed to interest me less and less. The release of The Muppets in 2011 gave me some hope that the franchise had changed directions, and was starting to revert back to their irreverent humor and comedy more reminiscent of their original show, but I guess that is not the case.
With the release of the newest movie, Muppets Most Wanted, I planned to take my kid to the movies this weekend to see what all the hype was about. I don’t know if all the appearances and promotion just stuck out to me because I follow The Muppets on many forms of social media, or if it was because I am tied into Disney so closely. Whatever the case, I did think that there was quite a bit of advertising and cross promotion overkill. It made me very worried about the quality of the movie, as if Henson and Disney were both concerned about the box office returns.
It looks like my fears were substantiated. The Muppets had an opening weekend of just under $17 million according to experts, and Disney was projecting/hoping for $26 to $28 million on its first weekend.
“Overall it’s a little disappointing,” said Dave Hollis, president of global theatrical distribution at Disney. He did attempt to buffer his comments by adding that the film is “an asset of the company across many lines of business.” Also saying that it “will likely hit $100 million or more worldwide on a budget of $54 million” and that it has “a lot of business left to do.” I know its comparing apples to oranges, but keep in mind that Frozen has recently crossed the $1 billion dollar global box office figure, and here we’re saying that the Muppets will maybe bring in less than 10% of that figure.
So, it’s Sunday afternoon, we’re going to a matinee showing, and knowing that I write a Disney Blog, and I love the Muppets, I planned on writing something about it. I was hoping that I could write a wonderful review, singing its praises, and telling all the critics that they were wrong. I wanted to be able to recommend this movie to everyone, and say what a fun family movie it was.
I would like to say that, but I can’t. I fell asleep; well more like dozed off once or twice, but still, I think that’s probably a pretty good sign right there. Sure there were some funny parts, and it was nice to see the Muppets on the screen again (It’s not like I slept through the whole thing). I am not sure how I feel about Constantine yet, so we’ll see if that character mysteriously disappears, like so many others. Kermit’s voice was good, and that’s always a sticking point for me, even though I know almost all the performers for all the original characters have changed over the years. If Kermit does not sound right, it just throws the whole thing off for me.
I did enjoy many parts of it. However, the story, and gags, were not enough to keep me awake during the film. Maybe it was because it was dark, maybe I did not get enough sleep the night before, maybe I should have been drinking coffee, maybe I did not buy the story line, but am not saying that my falling asleep, or not falling asleep, in a movie is the new rating system. I will admit that this is not the first time this has happened. Other times were during all Lord of the Rings movies. All of them. In the theatre. Separately. Years apart. Every time. My wife drug me to them, and I tried to pay attention. I really did; but each and every time: “……zzzzzzzz…….” then *SMACK* – getting hit to be woken up for snoring.
I asked my kid about The Muppets Most Wanted. She said she liked it. I asked her what the story was about, and she got pretty close for a 5 year old. I am sure we will end up buying the Blu-ray. I’m not saying that the movie was horrible by any means. If you are debating on seeing it, or not, you may as well go. Go for a matinee and save some money, or wait a month and go to the discount theatre. If you have waiting that long, you could just wait for the DVD. I’m sure it won’t be too long before they release it. If you are a hard core muppet-head, I am sure you already saw it anyway so I don’t expect my review to mean a thing to anyone either way.
On a somewhat related side note:
I watched the new SyFy show Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge last night. I thought this was a very interesting look inside the creative process. The creature shop looked awesome with lots of memorabilia on the walls if you know what you are looking at. I loved the way they were taking us “inside” the creature building process. I hope the contestants progress as the show goes on. I was not overly impressed with any of the creatures, but they did only have 2 days to build them, so I thought almost all of them did well. Also, keep in mind that Henson Studios does a lot more than Muppets. They are a creature shop, and are well known for creating effects for TV, Movies, Commercials and Live Events. They even did the Deadmau5 Headpiece. Take a look at their website if you are interested in seeing what they do.
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What did you think about the movie? Are you going to go see it at all? Am I way off about the movies? Do you think they are better than the shows? Feel free to comment, the link to comment on this article is on the side near the top of the article.