Hi-ho, it’s the Muppets!
The quirky crew entertaining generations comes back and doesn’t disappoint
Muppet Mania reached a fever pitch as the long-awaited comeback for Kermit and his pals finally hit theatres the last week of November.
There were ups. There was a down. And, when I finally stopped meandering the stairs and found my seat, there was an absolutely fantastic movie to watch.
Of course, song and dance has always been a big part of the Muppets experience, and the new film does not disappoint.
The opening track, “Life’s a Happy Song,” brings us right back to the bygone era of the of the Muppets’ heyday in the‘70s and ‘80s.
Written and composed by Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie, who did all the original songs for the movie, it’s something that would have been right at home on the Muppet Show. Similar to the timeless quality of the Muppets themselves, it’s a very catchy song that creates a great anchor for the themes and values central to the film.
The opening montage takes us back to that whimsical time when the protagonist, Walter, was just a little Muppet kid watching the Muppet Show for the first time. It was a more carefree time when there was no war, disease and famine in the world, when everyone got along and nothing bad ever happened. Or so I assume.
Either way it’s a stark contrast to how far the Muppets have fallen from the public eye, which is addressed later in the film. It’s the perfect way to open the movie.
And the perfection doesn’t stop. From a soundtrack perspective, I couldn’t find a single misstep for most of the pieces featured in the film. “Me Party” is sung by Amy Adams and Miss Piggy and not only advances the plot, but shows us how relatable the Muppets can be. Yes, they might be pigs and bears and chickens and dogs, but any child, woman, man or anything in between can find a way to relate to their worries, happiness and sorrow.
Even the track “Man or Muppet” brings up the ultimate existentialist question posed to our species: am I a man or a Muppet?
And I know the big thing these days is to have one of these kids’ entertainers do a “safe” rap song because parents find that oh-so-adorable. But the only one to let any rhymes loose here is Chris Cooper, in a particularly nasty little-ditty. The song serves to push the fact that, yes, the Muppets flavour of humour may be pretty old-school and friendly, but it’s also uncompromising and timeless.
Alas, not every aspect of the soundtrack can be amazing. There is nothing wrong with covers when the songs are well-choosen but they feel out of place in this case.
The film features a clean-up montage to the song “We built this city,” which doesn’t really do anything to progress the scene or set up any relevant jokes.
But, where that cover can be forgiven, how did someone think it was a good idea to put a reworked version of Cee-lo Green’s “Fuck You” into the mix? Even if it’s only clucked by chickens, it’s a very recent song that many people are already putting behind them.
In a movie that preaches the Muppets’ humour as being timeless and forever relevant, why include something to immediately date your movie by the time it hits DVD?
Fortunately, these bits are short and forgivable. Especially once you hear the classic “Rainbow Connection” from the original Muppets movie. It was the song nominated for an Oscar. It hit radio waves and made Top 25 on the charts. Since its debut in 1979, it’s been covered by artists ranging from the Carpenters to the Dixie Chicks to Jason Mraz, as well as Justin Timberlake, the Pussycat Dolls, Willie Nelson and most recently, Weezer.
And you know what? This is the best version of the song since the original.
I don’t want to give anything away, but if there is one moment in the movie that will pluck at your heartstrings, cause you to hold the person nearest to you and inspire angels to fly down from heaven just to wipe away your tears, this is it.
As sure as a pig can represent the height of fashion, a bear can deliver a stand up routine and a frog can strum a banjo, seeing this film will be checked off as one of the greatest achievements of your lifetime.