Apparently, the Academy was concerned that the vaudeville-style humor of the Muppets might be too edgy for its target demo (septuagenarians and joke writer Bruce Villanche, waiting, ever waiting by the phone for when he's needed to punch up the jokes). And that's a shame, really, because The Muppets would have been right at home handing out the honors to The Artist and Hugo, both paens to Hollywood's past. More than anything, that's what the new film is: a love note not only Jim Henson's creations but to the idea of putting on a show for the audience.*
And it's funny, too! And it's got musical numbers, and it's got heart, and about a dozen other unquantifiable things that as a reviewer who group up watching The Muppet Show on a series of small, beat-up, hand-me-down TVs, I feel I must quantify.
The story, as thin as is it, concerns the titular troupe having to reform and put on a show to save their crumbling L.A. studio (upgraded from a simple theater over the years), from greedy magnate Tex Richman who's played by Chris Cooper who gets to rap about his evil motivations at about the halfway point. And when I reassure you that yes, it's that Chris Cooper, you'll have a better idea of the kind of movie that The Muppets is.
Like its newest Muppet, Walter (Peter Linz), it's ingratiating, but not grating. More than anything, both the movie and Walter want to be liked, might seem a little corny, but you can't help but like them.
Oh yeah, the plot. So Walter and his brother, Gary (Jason Segel, who co-wrote the movie with Nicholas Stoller), and Gary's fiancee, Mary (Amy Adams) head out to L.A. where they take the most dispiriting studio tour in history, and learn that the Muppets aren't really in the business of putting on shows anymore. Let's put aside the ultra Muppets fan Walter should know this kind of thing already, but it's an excuse for them to track down Kermit and the rest of the gang to resurrect the show and save the contractually jeopardized Muppet name.
I could point out some of the small jokes and asides from the movie, but I feel like I'd either be spoiling them or doing them an injustice. It's sweetly funny and gentle, so it's not like I'd be spoiling some joke of the year, but The Muppets is one of those movies you discover with your kids (or if you're a grown-ass man with a beard without kids like your reviewer) and you just smile at during and after the viewing.
*Okay, I'm stretching it here as The Artist and Hugo were more concerned with the particulars or cinema history while The Muppets is predominantly about the stage and stage musicals.
Presentation, Audio, and Video
Yeah, so if you're going to buy any edition, get the "Wocka Flocka" set that comes with an insane amount of extras (detailed below) along with the full soundtrack.
On Blu-ray, The Muppets is pretty standard fare, though--you're not getting anything so visually impressive that you'll be writing home about it (it is, after all, a mid-budget live-action family movie). The gloss looks a little glossier, and the felt looks feltier, is all.
The Muppets: The Wocka Flocka Edition is on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD now.