There’s a beauty to uncynical cinema. You may be asking yourself, what does that mean? Well, let me tell you. It’s the type of film that the latest Muppets movie represents. It’s not the type of movie where there’s a huge amount of death or violence or CGI. There’s not a large amount of blood or guts or gore. It’s perhaps the type of film that more adheres to the Jimmy Stewart It’s a Wonderful Life type of era.
You may be thinking – well, how is uncynical cinema any different from your prototypical Hollywood feel good cry fest? It’s true that these two things might seem like one and the same. That the feel good movies of our times are the stuff only made of Hollywood clichés. But I’d like to beg to differ. I believe that there is (and can be) a genre of films (not often made) that does a decent combination —and a precarious balance of – balancing a great story and great characters without the cuss words, the sex, the violence, or special effects.
Without going into great detail about the movie itself, the latest Muppets movie does something that few movies of its kind do – it’s made grown adults cry with a type of nostalgia — and not the nostalgia that Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” seems to inspire (like in the film About A Boy). But the nostalgia for the time when we were kids. When a little felt Muppet named Kermit could make us smile, when a little green frog could sing a song with his fellow Muppet, Rowlf, about the impossibilities of women (after Kermit got stood up by Miss Piggy)– and somehow as kids and adults, we understood that message.
Perhaps that type of cinema isn’t possible anymore. Perhaps we’re too caught up in the technologies of our time to truly ever get invested in simple things. But there’s a reason why scores of adults have been flocking to the latest Muppets movie. There’s a reason why adults bring their children along for the ride. There’s a reason why we tear up when Kermit sings “Rainbow Connection.” It’s because there’s a beauty in the simplicities of cinema. There’s a beauty in creating character with simple instruments like words, a great story, and maybe a little bit of string and felt.
That’s not to say that I’m not a theatergoer that doesn’t enjoy a great action flick. Or that doesn’t marvel at the technologies that bring cinema to the next level. But I think what the latest Muppets movie has reminded me is that the beauty of cinema is simple. It’s all based on a great story. Like a great book, it’s a story that transcends us from the present. It’s a story that takes us to another world. It’s the reason why cinema was created.