Back when I gave The Muppets Take Manhattan another watch (can’t believe that was TWO YEARS AGO!) I noted that most of my Muppet memories came from watching the Muppet Babies cartoons. I’ve realized since then that The Muppet Show was actually on before I was born, which is why I probably don’t remember it. I also don’t have memories of it being in any of the rerun blocks I fancied. So, when it came back in the late 90s as Muppets Tonight, I think I liked it, but didn’t have that nostalgic love (or maybe had something else to watch at that time, I remember seeing a few episodes, but not a lot, certainly not two seasons’ worth).
All of that is to say that I’m not a die-hard Muppets fan, though I believe I am now after watching the wonderful film released last year written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller. The plot follows Segel whose brother Walter is a Muppet, though no one seems to notice. Segel takes his girlfriend Amy Adams on a trip to LA with Walter tagging along. While there, they take a tour of the old Muppets studio where Walter overhears Chris Cooper’s plan to buy the studio and destroy it to drill oil. He, Segel and Adams then start a campaign to get the gang back together so they can save the building making it essentially Blues Brothers with Muppets.
The Blues Brothers comparison is actually really apt now that I think about it because, while there are cartoony/unrealistic elements, there is also a real heart at the center of the proceedings. Neither group comes together again for their own benefit, but to help others (save an orphanage, remind people that comedy doesn’t need to be cynical). For a while, I found myself reacting negatively to silly humor, but since I’ve become a dad, I’ve realized that the most basic laughs come from the silly. Funny noises and voices? That’ll make a baby laugh. That’s pure. It doesn’t work for everything, but that branch of humor, when done without cynicism but with adult influences can be a wonderful thing to experience.
And that was the key to my enjoyment of the film. Sure, I was confused as to who some of the Muppets were (pretty much all of the non-Babies cast members), but I was never confused about the themes: family is important, love is important, friends are important and laughter is really important. Those are good things to remember.
Also, 80s Robot is my new favorite thing and needs his own movie. That is all.