Thursday, 29 March 2012

Film Review: The Muppets (2011)

Director: James Bobin
Writer: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Stars: Amy Adams, Jason Segel and Chris Cooper
For sheer entertainment value, you don’t get anything better than The Muppets. From their TV origins on Sesame Street to their big screen features such as The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Christmas Carol, everyone who can call themselves human loves these furry creatures. If you don’t, then you’re heart is made of stone and your soul belongs in Hell. OK? Good.

So, it is a great pleasure for me to say that latest adventure for Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and the rest of the gang is a runaway success in all departments. The film is a non-stop treat with its songs, gags, nods and winks to the audience, Muppet heritage, and humour which both adults and kids can savour and enjoy. It is a stroke of genius that these characters have made us smile, laugh, and cry for over 40 years (well, 20 something for me) and still be as fresh and invigorating as they are today.

All credit goes to Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller (whose past writing credits include some dire films) for finding the heart of The Muppets and bringing them back with a purpose. This isn’t just another kids film made for the SOLE purpose of making money in the way that Cars 2, Rio, Ice Age 4, and all those terrible Shrek films are; this film loves its characters and respects its audience. No one will leave the cinema with anything other than a huge smile. It’s impossible not to like this film. Moreover, gone is the cynical humour of the Shrek films and the action-packed CGI of pretty much any kids film I’ve seen (or seen trailers for) recently. This film doesn’t rely on that because it has too much to offer rather than to fall back on attempts to ‘dazzle’ the audience with chase after chase after lame joke after lame joke.

Moreover, Kermit et al have been off our screens for too many years, and the story takes this into account, too; the gang have abandoned each other, and it takes the determination of one such Muppet, named Walter, to bring them together again to save the Muppet studios from falling into the hands of Tex Richman (best character name of the year) with a live reunion TV show. By the end of the film, you hope this will be the first of many more big screen adventures to come.

Any fans of TV’s The Flight of the Conchords will appreciate this film’s songs and quirky tone from one of that show’s stars, Bret McKenzie. The Academy Award nominated song ‘Man or Muppet’ is both hilarious and moving at once. Other songs and dance numbers are just as funny, but this is a song with real heart, just like the film.


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