Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Friday, 17 February 2012

If you missed The Muppets last week, catch it now

It's time to start the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to meet The Muppets...

With the days still dark, and a cold and wet weekend on the way, it seems like we could all afford to cheer ourselves up a bit. I can recommend no better tonic than The Muppets which is an absolutely ideal combination of silly, absurd and musical fun for all the family.

The latest outing for Jim Henson’s most famous creations is simply a joyous affair. It has all of your favourite characters back and they are simply being themselves rather than being crowbarred into well-known stories, a tactic which worked particularly well in The Muppets’ Christmas Carol but it does serve to restrict the sheer wackiness of the individual Muppets.

There are no such problems here, particularly with the central “getting the band back together” sequence. There are great laughs to be had in Gonzo as an efficient businessman repressing his inner showman, Animal attending anger management sessions and Miss Piggy as a Devil-Wears-Prada-esque fashion editor. Then, the Muppets are all back together and they are ineffably brilliant.

They are ably supported by their human counterparts. Jason Segel and Amy Adams make a charming lead couple, and Chris Cooper is terrific as the villain, Tex Richman. There are numerous entertaining cameos. Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Blunt and Whoopi Goldberg are all there, enjoying themselves thoroughly, whilst there are others who are silent but hugely amusing just by their very presence. I mean, what the hell is James Carville doing in this film?

The beating heart of this Muppets adventure is the terrific songs, written by Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie. The climactic Am I Man or Am I Muppet? is surely a locked on certainty for the Best Song Oscar and it is a marvellously self-aware moment. Indeed, that self-awareness runs through all of James Bobin’s direction and Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s script. They undercut moments which in other films would have been unrepentantly over-the-top not with cynicism, but with a family-friendly style of Airplane! humour. Bizarre visual gags, character ticks and so on are the norm throughout.

There were rumours that the Muppeteers were originally sceptical of the intentions of this new film. They needn’t have been concerned, because this is an affectionate, delightful revival of old favourites which will enthuse weathered fans and first-timers alike.


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