The first musical number in THE MUPPETS (2011) immediately put me in mind of the old Busby Berkeley movies of yore, and you can hardly imagine my glee at the cameo appearance of Mickey Rooney, who starred with Judy Garland in two Busby Berkeley musicals, during “Life’s a Happy Song“! The old-fashioned musical style is paired beautifully with the nostalgic theme of the movie. When brothers Walter and Gary visit the old Muppet Show studio, Walter accidentally discovers that a big deal oil baron wants to tear down the studio to drill for oil. In order to save the studio, Walter must work with his hero, Kermit the Frog to reunite the Muppets and put on a huge show to raise the money to buy back the studio! Sounds strikingly similar to BABES IN ARMS (1939) and STRIKE UP THE BAND (1940), doesn’t it?
|Mickey Rooney (92) has made at least
one movie a year since 1926
With their usual panache, the Muppets make this cliched plot line possible by employing relentless self-mockery to tear down the fourth wall and haul the audience into the party. Together, characters and audience unashamedly stampede down memory lane, dancing and singing all the way! The great thing about this latest Muppet movie is that it unites several generations of Muppet fans, from Mickey Rooney to Whoopi Goldberg to Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) to Selena Gomez. Although I never watched The Muppet Show, I grew up with their movies. My personal favorites were/are THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL and MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND (what can I say, I’m a lit. major!).
Don’t dismiss THE MUPPETS for being a little hokey. That’s part of their shtick. They take the schmaltz to the extreme so that they can turn it around into something terribly funny. This grade of self-mockery has the uncanny ability to endear a cynical 21st century audience to a gaggle of puppets from the 70s! The ability for audiences to yield to the inexorable charm of THE MUPPETS is a testament to their enduring appeal to all ages. This is definitely a movie to add to your collection, especially if you have children (but children are not compulsory).