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The Muppets - Film Review

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by Matt Elliot Taylor (subscribe)
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
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It's that time again. Time to play the music, light the lights, put on makeup, dress up right and get things started on the triumphant return of Kermit & Company in the movie event of the Summer holidays, The Muppets.

In the first theatrical Muppets picture in 12 years, we are returned to everything we could expect from these wacky sideshow performers plus more; most notably, a new Muppet character. Walter is a Muppet who has lived all his life with his brother Gary (Jason Segel) in a small town called – would you believe it – Smalltown. He is the world's biggest fan of The Muppet Show and dreams of one day meeting Kermit and the gang. But when his dream finally comes true and he goes to Hollywood with Gary and his long-term girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) he finds the studio abandoned and scrapped. He meets his hero Kermit the Frog, and convinces him to light the lights and play the music once again. Meanwhile, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is a tyrannical businessman with a typical 'bad guy' name who intends to demolish the building to drill for oil, so in order to save the studio that carries so many laughs and memories, the troupe must reunite and put on one last show that will raise funds to buy back the studio. But that's not exactly going to be easy…

This is what we have been waiting for. It is so much fun and still carries with it all the classic old-fashioned dry-wit humour as well as at least one appearance from just about every Muppet character you can think of as well as cameos from many familiar faces (too many to list here). But the secret ingredient is the introduction of the new character Walter, who is so sweet and human that he represents the 'inner Muppet' in all of us giving a fresh approach to the film. It is essentially a musical and so there's no shortage of show-stopping numbers – some written for this particular instalment, others Muppet classics we all know the words to (if you can count 'Ma-na-ma-na' as a word), and even some classic rock tracks thrown in for good measure. What's ultimately special here is the tribute to everything The Muppet Show meant for people back when it aired in the late 1970s. It is layered with an upbeat cheesiness that works, and clichés that shine to the point of hilarity, particularly in the musical segments. The Muppets have always flourished on making fun of themselves, making everyone the star and doing what they do best: putting on one hell of a show.

The Muppets cannot be praised enough. The music is lively and catchy, it is tongue-in-cheek hilarious and can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. Fans will have a field day with this picture, but it also exposes these loveable larrikins to a whole new generation, keeping the charm of the Muppets alive. Muppets creator Jim Henson passed away in 1990 which is an absolute shame, because what this film has in store would have made him proud.

***** out of *****

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Why? Experience the magic of The Muppets
When: 23 November 2011 (USA), 12 January 2012 (Australia), 10 February (UK)
Where: Your local cinema
Cost: Check your local cinema for details
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