2012 Film Challenge #18 - The Muppets (2011)
For some reason I recently took to convincing myself that I didn't grow up with The Muppets. That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? And it is. It went like this – I saw an outpouring of affection in the run-up to the release of this – their first cinematic outing since 1999 - and thought, I've no right to join in. I didn't grow up with The Muppets.
Why did I do that? Was I so resigned to the whole “the cynics have won” idea that, when presented with something that suggested that all is not lost and that people do still take unabashed joy in things – I just refused to let myself join in?
For the truth is, of course I grew up with The Muppets. Did I not go and see their Christmas Carol when I was five, and has it not since formed an essential part of the whole celebration to the point that – as recently as last year – I considered Christmas to have truly begun from the instant it came on TV? And did I not used to absolutely love Muppets Tonight when I was, what? Nine? Ten?
Of course I grew up with The Muppets. We all did. And that's why I know I'm not the only one to have found this film almost overwhelmingly wonderful.
An opening monologue said it all – in so many words – so long as there are Muppets, there is hope.
It's that simple. They represent a very pure, innocent and resilient enjoyment of life. Though their humour is knowing and self-referential, it's a world away from the hateful “banter” and snarky “sideways looks” that seem to be prerequisites for laughter in the twenty-first century.
Indeed, for perhaps the very first time, this film explicitly identified The Muppets as an antidote to cynicism. Starting out as a tribute act, the antagonist enlists a team of “Moopets” as a “hard and cynical replacement for a hard and cynical world”. They wear black leather and chains and so resemble the baddies from every eighties film, ever – or, at the very least, the cast of Meet The Feebles.
Yes, they're dated, but they're still seriously bad news. And though I knew that The Muppets would ultimately triumph, all the same I still found myself fearing for their future – and I still found myself to be genuinely moved by the arguably “predictable” happy ending.
You could argue, then, that this thing made me regress to a regrettable state of childhood wonder – or, alternatively, you could consider the notion that perhaps some things are sacred, some things are worth caring about and some things are just plain lovely right down to the core.
If you want to argue otherwise, go ahead. I don't care.
Why should I? The Muppets exist.
And not only do they exist, but they now have an 80s Robot and a ridiculously catchy soundtrack by Brett McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords!
And they come with a bonus new Toy Story short which featured the immortal Ghost Burger!
Having saw this last night, a good mood was instilled that still hasn't quite lifted.
It seems that The Muppets always meant more to me than I'd ever let on.