I’ve already established that the Muppets are pretty important in my life. I was happy when Disney bought the Muppets (finally) so that they could come out of retirement. Sure, I knew it probably meant more Muppets in advertising, but hell, that’s how they started so it’s hardly unprecedented.

We went to see Muppets Most Wanted at the first showing, 7PM on Thursday night. It was remarkably empty, but there was little advertisement to let folks know about the Thursday “bonus” showings. And it had the delightful side benefit of making us feel as if we were alone in our living room, which made me feel more comfortable laughing out loud when I needed to.

After some consideration, I think “Muppets Most Wanted” beats out all recent Muppet films for a very respectable place on my list of all-time favorites. Muppets Take Manhattan will most likely always be first (especially now that we incorporated the closing song into our wedding) – it made the Muppets seem like modern people, struggling with jobs and dreams that didn’t line up. It also ages well, with humor for adults, and included some great sequences like the original Muppet Babies dream sequence. And at least for me, it evokes real emotion – I dare you to watch the closing sequence and not get a little choked up.

But sentimental attachments aside, I felt “Muppets Most Wanted” was a great movie.

An expert opinion of the film relatively free from spoilers:

  • The music is really great. Tons of original songs (plus the return of ‘Together Again’ from the aforementioned Muppets Take Manhattan) spanning a ridiculous range of styles. I don’t think there’s a standout quite as much as “Muppet of a Man” from “The Muppets”, but in general the entertainment factor was slightly higher for me. And the musical theatre shoutouts from the gulag were very much appreciated.
  • “Muppets Most Wanted” had a more adult sense of humor than recent films, and was a more balanced ensemble piece that let more Muppets have moments. “The Muppets” was great, but it was a little…shiny. Huge focus on Walter, who was fine but sort of meh without the quirkiness that makes Muppets unique. And most of the humor was one-note. .
  • I am a huge Tina Fey fan, and I thought she did a great job in a character role that you don’t see her do frequently. There was one thing I’d change about her character arc, but otherwise, no complaints!
  • Miss Piggy’s hair. I am taking notes.
  • Ridiculous Russian Kermit. I mean, come on.
  • I was surprised and delighted by the comedy duo of Sam Eagle and Ty Burrell. They were adorkable, had a great song together, and managed to work in both slapstick moments and adult commentary (about the difference in French and American working cultures, which would not be funny to kids.)
  • Though few folks will notice, you can tell that the puppeteers are still working to push their craft. There are several full body Muppet sequences that would have been hard to pull off in the past.

If you’re asking yourself if you should go to see the movie, the answer is yes. Unless you’re allergic to Muppets. I don’t think it’ll win an Oscar, but it’ll win your laughter.

And yes, I’ll get back to non-movie blogging momentarily.

And for the record, my favorite Muppet movies in order:
(With Amazon Instant Video links in case you’ve not yet seen them)

  1. The Muppets Take Manhattan
  2. The Muppet Movie (1979)
  3. Muppets Most Wanted
  4. Follow that Bird
  5. The Muppets (2011)
  6. Muppets From Space

Most of the top ones on my list have emotional significance for me. And I HATED Doc Hopper’s character in The Muppet Movie as a kid, so it’s permanently a bit scarred for me. It’s only respect for Jim Henson’s original work and “Rainbow Connection” that puts it that high for me. Meanwhile, I know “Follow that Bird” may not be considered Muppet movie canon, but it’s awesome and ridiculous and it has Muppets in it, so I think it COUNTS.