The Muppets really feels like the first traditional Muppet movie since the death of the man who created them. The movie felt like a return to form, after visiting adaptations of stories, and complete failures. It was silly, irreverent, fun, and actually a good film for reflecting. The human co-stars, most of whom were great sports about doing what may be the silliest and out there thing in their career, stepped aside and let these classic characters steal the show. References to the previous movies, and the t.v. series are frequent and pretty clever. Not all of the supporting characters have a chance to shine, but seeing them along for the ride was great. Overall, I think Jim Henson was right in his almost obcessive need to get his beloved creations into the hands of a company that could keep them going long after he is gone. And the Muppets really prooves that. While the characters were dormant for a while (this is even referenced in the film as a major part of the storyline) I think it was just because the performers, writers, and artists knew wanted their next film to be something the boss would be proud of, and I think he would be and is. Our culture is incredibly different than it was in the muppets hayday of the late 70's and early 80's, and while charming, the original films seem a bit dated because of it. I'm sure that will happen to this film in another thirty years, but I think that is what the muppets about. The world changes around them, but the characters and their love for one another dont. The original movies, alongside this one, deal with the characters facing a world that has somehow changed, with timeless physical comedy and puns put in to insure the film can be viewed generations from now. The film is different in that our culture has changed. The celebrities appearing, the way the characters interact with them have changed. However, at it's heart, the characters remain the same, and that seems to be the secret to the success of all of the muppets films. One thing is for sure, this was made by people who genuinely cared about the characters and Mr. Hensons legacy. I was happy to see a few of the original muppet performers in the credits. While most of them are too old now to attempt the physically demanding work that puppetry entails, there were a few performers that studied under Mr. Henson as a kind of apprentice, that really made the characters feel like they havent changed, just taken a short break.
Overall, for the hour and a half that the movie was running I was laughing constantly, and at one point, pretty suddenly, crying, along with most everyone else in the theater. I am very glad I watched the original movie before seeing this, as it compliments this film so well. More than that, I am glad I took the time last night to finally watch, and understand what exactly the writers of "Rainbow Connection" were talking about, as it made the finally that much more satisfying. At it's core, the song is about believing in something, even if it's been proven not to be real. I think what Mr. Henson was trying to say through that first musical number was to believe in those impossible things, because witht he right spirit, eventually those things become something tangible. It's about chasing those impossible things until they become plausible. Mr. Henson had a right to think that, as he lived it.