The Muppet movie is firmly rooted in the Muppet tradition: a love for theatre, a devoted group of misfits, and a variety of melodies come together in this latest production of The Muppets. The film chronicles the story of two brothers growing up and learning to find their own paths in life, two separate paths which hinder their dependency upon each other. Gary (Jason Segal) must settle down with his girlfriend of ten years, deciding if he is a Muppet or a man, and Walter (his younger brother) must move outside of the home and live his dream. A love between siblings, grounded in the love for the Muppets, becomes a love that is stagnant, and one that eats away at the potential of each to break away and accomplish greater things in life.
The movie begins with a trip to the Muppet studios in Hollywood, a dismal trip that reveals not the glamour of the Muppets, but run-down studios which are about to be sold to a savvy businessman who wishes to destroy the studios altogether and drill for oil (maniacal laugh; maniacal life; maniacal life). The Muppets, who have been disbanded for years, are unaware, and it is Walter, Gary, and Mary (Amy Adams) who resolve to find Kermit and inform him of the conflict in the plot that initiates the rising action. Through a comical montage number, the Muppets are reunited.
The film is very much aware of itself, bringing together a cast of celebrities who comment on the hardships of careers in the theatre; that is to say, the actors are aware they are making a film and often draw attention to the problems with the plot and budget. As the great Gonzo jumps from the top of a building in an act that affirms his abandonment of his executive position at a plumbing corporation and return to daring flights (quite literally) of heroism all for the name of entertainment, Fozzy Bear reveals his surprise on how the Muppets were able to afford such a grand explosion. Some humour lies in this self-reflexive quality, but the bigger laughs are rooted in one’s knowledge of the Muppets. Much like the third installment of Toy Story that so skillfully integrated references from the earlier two films, the Muppets take advantage of their past, relying on a plot that is not unlike any of the plots that came before it: the Muppets are in trouble; the Muppets need to make money; the Muppets do so by putting together a show.
A film that focuses on the corruption of Hollywood is also one which promotes humility, friendship, love, and individuality. The muppets have always emphasized that it is not only alright, but important to follow your dreams, even if that means disappointment, and failure. From this group of misfits who suffer defeat, and loss, we learn some key life lessons: always read the fine print in contracts and more importantly, the love of friends and family is much greater than love for money and riches. A simple message often forgotten in this world of ours unites the muppets and nourishes the audience. We still flock to the cinema, rooting for our friends on screen, believing in the love between a frog and pig that is often threatened, and witnessing a loving bond between friends and family that warms our hearts.