The Muppets are not "for children."
True: I grew up with the Muppets and the wonderful world of Jim Henson. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve running around in my house to the “Fraggle Rock” theme song. (I swear, resist the urge to twitch your butt when that bass line plays.) My siblings and I will still, in our 20s and 30s, mind you, sit through all of "The Muppets Take Manhattan" and sing along: You can’t take no for an answer / No, No, No, No, No, No.
When I say that the Muppets aren't for kids, I mean that those of us who grew up with Creature Shop output -- "Labyrinth," "The Dark Crystal," "Follow that Bird," "The Great Muppet Caper," "The Muppet Movie," heck, even "Muppet Treasure Island" -- are now grown.
I don't mean that the movies are inappropriate (although, as we've discussed, some are scary as hell. Remember when Big Bird went to Japan and the moon people stole his friend?). I mean that there's always been a layer of in-joking meant for adults.
Take the cameos. Did you care when Richard Pryor or Bob Hope or Peter Falk showed up as a kid? Nope! That was for the grown-ups. Did you laugh knowingly when Steve Martin, as the waiter, served Kermit and Piggy "the finest wine in Idaho" on their date? Nope! Kids shouldn't drink wine! It's for grown-ups!
So it goes without saying I am super pumped that Jason Segel, he of the huge wang and major Muppet enthusiasm, and my boyfrannnn Bret McKenzie of "Flight of the Conchords" fame, teamed up for the newest Muppet caper. I also love Amy Adams, and anything that gets Chris Cooper back on the screen as the better-looking Charles Durning bad-guy? Sign me up.
So it kinda got my Irish up when I was chatting with this dude I met off eHarmony and we were finally planning a date, and he made fun of me for suggesting the Muppet Movie. (Even though I was already planning to see it with my family over Thanksgiving.)
eHarm Dude: Muppets? Really?
Me: You don’t like the Muppets?!
eHarm Dude: Sure. I did. As a kid.
Me: But the show and movies are definitely geared toward adults. I look at the Muppets as the precursor to Pixar. Family-oriented entertainment, but tons of double entendres and asides for adults. Plus, good filmmaking is good filmmaking. I'm totally fine with watching a well-made movie made for children.
eHarm dude: Have fun with that.
Needless to say, Eharm dude and I are doomed.
There is no shame, friendos, in being in your 20s, 30s or 90s and loving puppets. I think it’s refreshing to have the Muppet franchise renewed and bask in light entertainment which makes you laugh and feel like a kid again.
Rather than seeing it as self-infatilizing, I think it’s sweet to hold onto the joy and simplicity of childhood. Just because you’re 30, you don’t have to be a cynical monster and read DeLillo when what you really want to do is watch a person made out of felt juggle fish.
So if you're going to see "The Muppets" or "Hugo" or even "Arthur Christmas," go ahead and take off your porno raincoat and sunglasses. You can see these movie even if you’re childless! You don’t have to get stoned beforehand (but you can -- just go to a nine o'clock show to avoid judgy parents and wailing kids).
A lot of kids' movies are so well done that they shouldn't impinge on our street cred. We needn’t die secret deaths, anymore. The "G" after all, stands for General Audiences.