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Capone is quite fond of joy, singing, dancing, friendship, and THE MUPPETS!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

At this point, another review of THE MUPPETS seems superfluous, but hell, the movie is so damn good, it can't really hurt. I'll admit, I held my breath when I saw the "Smalltown, USA" sign, marking the community where Gary (Jason Segel, who also co-wrote the film with Nicholas Stoller) and his pal Walter (the film's new Muppet character) grew up together as huge fans of the Muppets TV show. That little details seemed a little too quaint, but it took about five minutes and one catchy tune to win me over. Segel and Stoller are such devoted fans that they know what about the Muppets is sacred ground and what they can play and tinker with a little bit.

Gary has been dating Mary (Amy Adams, displaying the same kind of graceful playfulness she did in Enchanted), and for her birthday, the couple are going to take a trip to Los Angeles to tour studios, search for celebrities, and maybe, just maybe, seek out the old Muppet Theater. Much to Mary's chagrin, Walter is along for the ride. When the three of them arrive at the theater, they find it rundown and largely off limits. They find out that unless the come up with $10 million very soon, the Muppets will lose the lease to greedy oilman Tex Richman (the snake-like Chris Cooper, chewing up yards of scenary). Walter, Gary and Mary decide to reunite the scattered Muppets players for a big telethon event to help save the theater and rekindle the old magic.

It's this journey finding each Muppet cast member that was one of my favorite elements of the movie, finding out how each character turned out, and some of it is not pretty but all of it is very funny. Perhaps no Muppet fate seems more predestined than seeing Fozzie Bear in Reno doing stand-up and singing in a Muppet tribute band called The Moopets. Almost too good to be true, Miss Piggy is now the plus-size fashion editor for Paris Vogue; Gonzo became a wildly successful plumbing executive; and Animal is forced to stay away from the drugs as part of his anger management therapy.

But THE MUPPETS is so much more than a joyous nostalgia trip. It's a sweet and perfect reminder that friendship trumps everything, and with the right group of friends, you can accomplish anything. Sure the celebrity cameos are great fun, the musical numbers are exceptional as Segel evokes the simple yet touching spirit of Paul Williams (I know he's not dead) and others who wrote some of those great numbers from previous Muppet movies. Segel has been given the absolute greatest gift imaginable: the chance to bring his heroes back to prominence, and he pulls it off without turning it into a movie that is too much about him or other humans. THE MUPPETS is a film about connection, or more specifically, re-connection--with old friends, with your childhood, with imagination, with the part of you that existed before cynicism entered your life.

As much as kids will probably love the hell out of this movie, I will go to my grave maintaining that Segel, Stoller and director James Bobin (a veteran behind the camera of "Flight of the Conchords" and "Da Ali G Show," both the British and American versions) made this movie for adults who grew up loving the old "Muppet Show" and other Jim Henson projects from "Sesame Street" to THE DARK CRYSTAL to "Jim Henson's The Storyteller." People can point to Spielberg or Lucas as the architects of their childhood, but for me it was Henson and his army of Muppeteers. The movie is a wet, sloppy kiss aimed right at those creative masters whose felt creations came to life effortlessly.

Segel is smart enough to couch this tribute in a decent story loaded with fun supporting actors, but he knows that without the emphasis being on the Muppets themselves, this movie wouldn't mean anything. Every once in a while, something that should be perfect turns out to be exactly that. Please let Disney put Segel in charge of its Muppets franchise that it largely ignored since it purchased it years ago. He gets it, and he might not always get it as right as he does with THE MUPPETS, but he'll die trying. I'd almost forgotten what passion for ones work looks like; thanks for the gentle reminder, Mr. Segel.

-- Capone
capone@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 24, 2011, 3:31 a.m. CST

    how about a spoiler tag

    by peterclay65

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 3:50 a.m. CST

    Nice one Capone.

    by Nomoredirtyanything

    pretty spot on review.... compared to Harry's at least. the fat man is one broody, moody sumbitch.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 4:34 a.m. CST

    Great review, Capone

    by Hint_of_Smegma

    Can't wait to see this, this coming weekend.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 5:44 a.m. CST

    Animal has to stay away from the DRUMS not DRUGS, Capone

    by antonphd

    i love the movie. very sweet. make me choke up at the end when they sang rainbow connection. great movie to watch to feel thankful.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 5:45 a.m. CST

    in the uk and ireland we have to wait untill january

    by emeraldboy

    what gives?

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 5:47 a.m. CST

    CREEPYTHINMANLIVES DOES NOT SLEEP! OPINION!

    by melchior42

    I'm tempted to speculate he's a caps-locked AI created only to troll AICN forums to increase readership. Either way, it's time he found a new routine.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 6:39 a.m. CST

    You guys in the UK got Tintin and a couple more before we did

    by Terrence

    Gotta balance it out, man. I won't gloat too much after I see it tonight though.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Great Review Capone!!!,, Going to see it today!!

    by shawn rhoades

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 7:08 a.m. CST

    Enough with the Muppet ass kissing.

    by darthsynn

    Go back to blowing Joss Whedon.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 7:16 a.m. CST

    antonphd

    by lochkray

    Thanks for clearing that up, re Drums not drugs. For a second there I was wondering exactly how aimed at adults this movie was going to be. DRUMS. That makes much more sense. Although, Animal's behavior always did seem a little like a bad crystal meth trip.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 7:25 a.m. CST

    If you ever want to see a man between the ages of 35 and 45 cry

    by gooseud

    just throw on the video of Kermit performing Rainbow Connection from the first movie. You wont even get through the first few banjo notes without every guy that age openly weeping. Except for the totally soulless cynical ones that is.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 7:29 a.m. CST

    Trolls amaze me

    by DannyOcean01

    When they bring up a criticism (for a movie they haven't seen yet, no less) that is utterly invalidated by the review they're bloody commenting on. Jesus f'ing Christ. If you're going to troll at least make it amusing.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 7:49 a.m. CST

    Possibly Worst Reviewers in Film History

    by Tassium

    This site. It's either endless me me bleeh or spoilers from hell.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 7:54 a.m. CST

    Capone needs to fix that drugs/drums typo

    by rev_skarekroe

    That's a pretty major difference there, particularly in regards to a Muppet.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 8:11 a.m. CST

    the reason we got tin tin before the us...

    by emeraldboy

    is that tin tin is better known in the uk, ireland and europe then in the us...

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Saw it with my daughter yesterday...

    by steve

    It was exactly what you would want the Muppet movie to be. The voices are noticably off from when we were kids, but not so much you can't get past it. This movie could have easily come right from the 80's, and was genuinely fun without one second of film that you wouldn't be comfotable showing to a 5 year old. Just great.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Why wasn't Paul Williams called? They *assumed* he was dead?

    by Ricardo

    He should be doing that 3 hour long 3D Cleopatra rock opera Steve Sondenberg wanted to do.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Here's why I loved The Muppets (and Harry's nuts, btw) --

    by unfaithfullyyours

    Upon reflection -- Every day of late it seems that I am continually innundated with arguing, lying and a generally depressing deviceiveness from our society and government that leaves me at best grouchy and at worst going to bed feeling that nothing can ever get done and what's the point? So, HOORAY to The Muppets for bringing a bunch of people who don't know each other (and quite possibly have contradictory ideas and / or beliefs) TOGETHER in a dark theatre to laugh. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is a HUGE achievement. Thank YOU! (This is also a movie that proves that good comedy is best served in a theater, with groups of people. It doesn't, I think, get better, or feel better, than laughing as a group. I would dare say that these days it's downright rejuvinating.)

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Creepythinman needs...

    by Kevin Rubio

    To get another hobby. Obviously a frustrated artist. SO WAS HITLER BY THE WAY! FACT!!!!

  • Something Harry seems to have missed. Curious.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Harry hated it.

    by redmule

    Which is hard to believe. But I thought it was really cute.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Anyone who likes this shit...

    by PRESIDENT BALTAR

    ... is a faggot, a pedophile, or, most likely, both.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 1:08 p.m. CST

    president baltar - so I take it that this is your favorite movie?

    by TheBigLeBronski

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 1:48 p.m. CST

    it seemed to only acknowledge "Take Manhattan" and "Muppet Movie"

    by sunwukong86

    I know im being a nerd about this, but did it ignore Muppets from Space? The Muppets were all living in one house in that movie.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Segel didn't write the songs, Capone

    by darthpigman

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 3:01 p.m. CST

    Mickey Rooney cameo...

    by MST3KPIMP

    holy crap that was scary...

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 3:13 p.m. CST

    The Movie was alright but too self aware...

    by MST3KPIMP

    too many 'were in a movie' type jokes. They should have played it straight. Also I didnt buy the whole Muppets arent popular anymore storyline.. You could always walk into a target and see Muppets t-shirts.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 3:19 p.m. CST

    mst3kpimp the Muppets have always been self aware

    by sunwukong86

    watch the first movie

  • They actually give Dr. Teeth the movie script in the original movie so they don't have to explain everything to him. I even remember a bit in The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson where they mention that they kept seeing Henson below them and talk about the people under them following them around.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 5:16 p.m. CST

    Creepythin...

    by Hipshot

    Loved "Phantom of the Paradise." Never understood why it wasn't more popular. Could Jessica Harper have possibly been any cuter?

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 7:34 p.m. CST

    Reason why no UK promotion

    by w4tkn

    I imagine is because the performers themselves are doing ad-hoc improv interviews and its not like an interview for MTV can be used on MTV Europe, each chat show personality usually is parochial.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 8:11 p.m. CST

    w4tkn

    by sunwukong86

    Its not out till February in the UK, thats why

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 8:50 p.m. CST

    Re: THE MUPPETS/Capone

    by ArmageddonProductions

    First, THE MUPPETS is an awesome movie. No disagreement there. Second ...</p><p> Capone, Animal had to stay away from the DRUMS, not "drugs". I know it had to be a typo, but that's a hell of a typo. Secondly, Segal didn't write the new songs, Bret ("Brit") McKenzie did -- within five seconds of hearing any one of them, you can pick out the "Conchord"-ness.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 10:16 p.m. CST

    A question for those that have seen it....

    by Jobacca

    Did anyone get the number for the Muppet telethon? It started out 1-877-504 and then I didnt get the rest. It certainly wasnt the usual 555 movie number and I wondered if anything happened if you called it.

  • Googled it - didn't find anything

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 11:02 p.m. CST

    Wait... The villain is an oil exec named Tex Richman?

    by Bespin

    Not interested in seeing "Occupy the Muppets." Sorry.

  • That's precisely why I'm so excited for this film. Every interview or piece I've seen, shows just how badly he wants to get it right.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 11:20 p.m. CST

    Just saw this movie and it is awesome.

    by frank

    Ignore anyone who speaks negatively of it and just go see it.

  • Nov. 24, 2011, 11:30 p.m. CST

    If you edit to correct the drugs/drums thing...

    by Jon Voights Ballsack

    You may want to also change it from "Mary's birthday" to "their Anniversary."

  • Nov. 25, 2011, 5:08 a.m. CST

    Yup....

    by macrat84

    I read Harry's review before Capone's. Harry's review was a stinking pile of shit. Capone hit the nail on the head. I also agree, Disney should let Segal helm The Muppets. Now stop reading reviews and GO SEE THE MOVIE!!

  • Nov. 25, 2011, 8:18 a.m. CST

    "Now I am.......back!"

    by whatevillurks

  • Nov. 25, 2011, 10 a.m. CST

    Fuck you if you can't get over the voice difference

    by slone13

    None of the voices on the Simpsons sound anything like they did 20 years ago and they're all still being done by the same people.

  • Nov. 25, 2011, 10:02 a.m. CST

    president baltar

    by slone13

    Spoken like a true closeted homosexual.

  • Nov. 25, 2011, 11:03 a.m. CST

    slone13

    by PRESIDENT BALTAR

    takes one to know one, cocksucker

  • Nov. 25, 2011, 1:56 p.m. CST

    RUDE AWAKENING

    by TopHat

    If you can't even make a Muppets movie WITHOUT acknowledging the puppeteers ...then, the magic is officially gone. Sorry, apologists.

  • Nov. 25, 2011, 2:43 p.m. CST

    @ sunwukong86

    by ChiTownsBest

    They subtly acknowledged Muppets in Space when Gonzo said "Citizens of Earth". I'm guessing that was an acknowledgment if Gonzo finding out he was an alien in that movie.

  • Nov. 26, 2011, 12:14 a.m. CST

    president baltar

    by slone13

    No it doesn't. Never has.

  • Nov. 26, 2011, 1:33 a.m. CST

    Regarding president baltar...

    by the dolphins are in the jacuzzi

    While his comment does suggest that he is either: A) a closeted homosexual, B) a pedophile, or C) both, himself, there is another answer: D) he is a clueless fucktard who doesn't realize that, for any adult between the ages of 35 and 45, the Muppets are as much a rite of passage as Star Wars. Of course, if he is under the age of 25, then that explains everything, as the Muppets were sucking so bad during his formative years that he has no clue how great they were in their prime and, hence, their cultural significance. If, however, he is above the age of 25, refer to the previous explanation.

  • Nov. 26, 2011, 10:29 a.m. CST

    Am I a Man or a Muppet?

    by Cinemajerk

    I'm a very manly muppet! Seriously...a really fun movie. Nice nastalgic trip. My one beef is that there should have been a montage of the muppets going to different celebrities houses in Hollywood. All those celebrities who hosted the Muppet show back in the day like Steve Martin....and more big name celebrites of today. Kinda like when Mel Brooks was running around trying to get celebrities of the day to be in his movie "Silent Movie!" Perhaps have them all say NO! To hosting, to underscore the fact that EVERYONE has forgotten the Muppets. That would make the kidnapping of Jack Black even funnier. THEN at the end, you could have more celebrites showing up with the people as the telethon goes on....and they begin to wake up to how great the Muppets were and still are. The celebrites they did have seemed tacked on and kinda lame and lacking. It should have been BIG. Even if they just showed up for the Ma Nam a Nah song at the end. Something to show how big the Muppets were and how much they were loved. I hear some people complaining there werent enough muppets and too much of the Jason Siegel story....but i thought it was a good balance and a great way to frame the movie. Seigel obviously loves and respects the memory of the muppets. It kind of reminded me of the Blues Brothers when Jake and Elwood travel around trying to get the Band back together. The songs were fun. The best was "am i a man or a muppet" and of course the classic "why are there so many songs about rainbows" and "ma-nam-a-nah!"

  • Nov. 26, 2011, 5:44 p.m. CST

    Loved it.

    by Hipshot

    And slone13 is right. Voices change. Movie was a labor of love.

  • Nov. 27, 2011, 8:58 a.m. CST

    Cinemajerk....

    by syoungkin

    I agree completely with you. While I loved the movie (the Muppet telethon had the feel of the Muppet Show just right and I loved how they played the relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy straight and no winking at the fact that these are not real creatures), they could have done a few things better. <p> One comment about the cameos which your comment started me thinking. In the Muppet Movie, we had some major league celebrities popping up (Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Orson Welles and Richard Pryor as well as Edgar Bergen in a "passing of the torch" moment that was bittersweet in the fact that he passed away a few days after shooting his cameo). That was true of the show as well. For the series, they got some top named guest stars (Bob Hope, Steve Martin, Elton John) including those who don't normally do variety shows (Sylvester Stalone, Roger Moore, Mark Hammil shortly after Star Wars hit huge). <p> But, for The Muppets, the biggest name they got was Jack Black. To make the point that they are still relevant and supported by big names, it would have been nice to have seen some larger names popping up for cameos, including those like Steve Martin, Sylvester Stalone & Elton John who are still around today (they would have been perfect for the montage of "no"s that you mentioned). By going with the people they did, it sort of diminished the popularity of the Muppets. Just imagine how much funnier it would have been to see people like George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt (yes, I am rattling off the Oceans series of actors) singing "Humanana" at the end. <p> On the plus side, I highly encourage everyone to see it. The barbershop quartet version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was vintage Muppets and don't be shocked if you see Jason Segal performing "Man or Muppet" at next year's Oscar ceremony.

  • Nov. 27, 2011, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Also the lack of Rizzo

    by sunwukong86

    It seems like the Jim Henson Co. has been trying to replace Rizzo with Pepe since the 90's. I like them both, but it bothered me that Rizzo didnt even have any speaking lines in the new movie.

  • Nov. 28, 2011, 4:21 a.m. CST

    I thought it sucked

    by eveelcapitalist

    Really. I thought it was cynical pap. Jason Segel...who decided this asshole should be an actor? Needs an asswhooping. Amy Adams? I just want to see her tits and for her to shut the fuck up. The new Muppet ...William ...Walter ...Wallace ...who gives a shit. Crap. May as well have used the AIDS infected African Muppet. Every other Muppet looks like it was created under the influence of hardcore narcotics. William Walter Wallace Fucking Piece of Shit Muppet looks like generic ass. Uninspired and uninteresting. Fucking Jeff Dunham, the comedian, could have designed something better in his fucking sleep. Jack Black needs to go away forever. Squinty McWhatshisname...Tex Richman? Really? Well, in this age of #Occupymytaint and its resulting antisemitism at least it wasn't Jewy McGreedystein. And yet the character never actually did anything wrong. Yeah, CreepyThinManLives was right. Muppets as supporting characters? Just wrong. It was bad enough the human characters only ever stood around grimacing (Segel wrote it, but yet he only ever looked embarassed) but it was their story driving the plot. Them and and the shitty generic doll thing. If they had an even slightly compelling story to tell it would have been cool, but they didn't and it sucked. And going back to his Smurfs comparison...okay, I never saw the Smurfs but the trailer made it seem much the same as this movie. Lousy plot used as an excuse for cheap cameos, product placement and easy money. The reviews back up this characterization. And this movie is definitely the same. Lousy plot used as excuse for cheap cameos, product placement and easy money. Except the Muppets are characters loved by millions, whereas the Smurfs were just some obnoxious Saturday morning cartoon (that they may be loved by millions of French doesn't count...the French aren't people). There were a few laughs, I admit. But the movie sucked. I gave it one star out of five. Half a star for the few laughs, half a star for the VASTLY SUPERIOR TOY STORY SHORT! I recommend avoiding this movie. It sucks. As for the INSANE freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Payola. Prove me wrong, motherfuckers.

  • Nov. 28, 2011, 12:08 p.m. CST

    When they were trying to find a host for the show

    by durhay

    I thought that it might be NPH. Loved when they showed him at the phone saying "I don't know why I'm not hosting this!"

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