Muppets Most Wanted: Parent Movie Review
Muppets Most Wanted (PG) is in theaters, and we're ready to address two questions right off the bat: 1. Is the new Muppet movie worth seeing, and 2. Is it worth seeing at El Capitan? No need to draw it out: the answers are yes and yes! Read on for a parent review that helps you decide whether or not your little Miss Piggy fans are ready for this film, and why seeing it at Disney's El Capitan Theater - directly in front of the new Muppets star on Hollywood Boulevard - is more of an experience than seeing it anywhere else.
Our little movie-going trio consisted of a 9-year-old girl, a 10-year-old boy, and a mom who doesn't suffer mindless, formulaic children's films gladly. All three of us had a rip-roaring time, and I think it's fair to say we had three different wonderful times. We all laughed at plenty of the same jokes, but Mama relished the countless Hollywood tributes, cameo star appearances, and inside jokes for the over-40 set; boy-tween giggled helplessly at maniacal bad guy and explosive puppet slapstick; and girl-tween named as the highlight of her experience finally getting to see Kermit and Miss Piggy kiss for real.
All of us left with the same estimate of what age would likely be too young for this film; we all felt it was for kids ages six and up, based purely on the level of stress and violence. Everyone ends up OK in the end, of course, but there is some pretty rough slapstick, including beloved Muppets being blown up, crushed, roughed up, smacked, and sinisterly threatened. We agreed that most 5-year-olds we knew would have been stressed past the enjoyment level.
For anyone ready to roll with the punches, however, this film offers a rollicking ride, with great musical numbers in the grand Hollywood style (right down to synchronized swimmers, chorus line dancers, and a tap-dancing Ricky Gervais), non-stop one-liners, classic Muppet capers, exotic locations, and the old bad guy / good guy twin routine that somehow never gets old. And - something else we've always been able to count on from the Muppets - there are more cameo appearances by mega-stars than anyone could possible count in one viewing. Keep your eyes peeled for Lady Gaga, Usher, Tony Bennet, Hugh Bonneville, Zach Galifianakis, Frank Langella, and Salma Hayek - to name but a few.
As far as seeing it at El Capitan, this film really merits the drive into Hollywood for the El Capitan treatment. As always, we enjoyed the preshow of Disney-centric tunes on the wonderful El Capitan vintage organ, but add to that a musical stage show starring Kermit and Miss Piggy (singing numbers not in the film) and the new Monsters University short Party Central, and we saw a lot of entertainment before The Muppets even began. We also had some fun before and after the show checking out the many props, costumes, and set pieces from the film that are on display in the main lobby and in the viewing room downstairs; bring a camera with a flash! One member of our party was particularly enthralled with seeing so many of Miss Piggy's costumes on display, and I have to say - that pig has got one heck of a designer.
Finally, with the disclaimer of MILD SPOILER ALERT: near the end of the film, poor old Beaker gets blown up in a pretty startling manner that seems like it really must be the end of the poor guy. He does manage to survive, though; so if anyone sitting next to you becomes distraught, you can share the news that Beaker will be fine.
Muppets Most Wanted plays at El Capitan daily through April 17, 2014. General admission is $12-$15, with VIP tickets (including reserved seating, popcorn, and a drink) at $25. Tiny Tot Tuesdays offer screenings with lights on dim and lowered sound levels.
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