Saturday 28 January 2012

Film Review: The Muppets

Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Walter, Kermit and Fozzie in The Muppets

Back on the big screen for the first time since Muppets from Space in 1999, The Muppets is a brilliant return to form for the gang as they manage to recapture the magic that has worked for nearly 50 years. Where the film works best though is in appealing to the current generation of children who are used to occupying their time with Nintendo, Ben 10 and Pixar.

First pitched to Disney by central (human) star Jason Segel (who plays older brother of new Muppet, Walter) in 2007, the film has been gaining huge momentum and hype through it's extensive (and genuinely funny) marketing campaign consisting of numerous film trailer parodies (i.e. Green Lantern became Being Green, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo became The Pig with the Froggy Tattoo and so on).

The good news for all you Muppeters out there is that this film doesn't disappoint. The whole gang is back in business with fan-favourites Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo all along for the ride. The storyline may not be ground-breaking but it serves it's purpose well; that is getting the gang back together.

Essentially, Kermit and the gang need the money to prevent Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, maniacal laugh) from knocking down and drilling for oil on the site of their old Muppet Theatre. So, what's the best way in which to do this? Put on a good old-fashioned show with the whole gang of course, with some help from Walter, Segel and Adams (the latter two playing cutesy and loved-up couple Gary and Mary).

It's charming and entertaining family-friendly stuff and does much to alleviate the pain brought on by other recent feature film adaptations like The Smurfs.

The jokes are genuinely funny and where the film really made this reviewer chuckle was the constant breaking of the fourth wall. The characters are completely aware of the fact they are in a film and really run with it. Whether it's Segel's Gary remarking that he's sorry he's late because he just had to finish a big sing-a-long outside or Fozzie bragging that they blew half the budget on one explosion, it's brilliantly written stuff.

This means that the jokes here aren't just for the kids. Many teens and adults will get a kick from what is on offer. As can be expected from a cinematic event such as a Muppet reunion, there is a large number of familiar celebrity faces that pop up along the way, from Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, Zach Galifianakis, Emily Blunt, Dave Grohl and Whoopi Goldberg (and I could still go on for much, much longer).

The original songs are great for kids and annoyingly catchy for everyone as well as adding much to the show-spectacular feel of the film. When the curtain raises on the show-within-a-show it's genuinely entertaining and moving as the gang strive to raise the dough and save their precious studio and theatre.

The Verdict: 8/10

In a time of disappointing blockbusters, overblown sequels and pointless reboots, The Muppets brings a fantastic sense of nostalgia to proceedings and is the kind of film you could take your mum, gran or even great-gran to and not feel like she'll be lost or alienated (although she may disapprove of Fozzie's fart jokes). Altogether now...Wocka wocka!

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