Feb 15 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
THE Muppets brings us the return of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal and the rest of the gang for their first theatrical release in 12 years.
Muppets fans Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) reunite their idols when oil tycoon Tex (Chris Cooper) tries to demolish their old theatre.
Apart from loving 1992’s The Muppet Christmas Carol and recognising the greatness of Kermit the Frog and drummer Animal (one of my most worn t-shirts during my university days), the whole Muppets phenomenon sort of passed me by during my youth.
But what fun this movie is! In an era where CGI animations are all the rage there’s something heartwarming for an eighties child like me to see puppets bobbing about in innocent, charming family fare.
Right from the pre-movie Muppet musical parodies of Bohemian Rhapsody and Back in Black, the film’s packed with genuine laughs and rates alongside the likes of Shrek 2 and Ghostbusters as kids’ movies to make adults laugh.
The Muppets was a pet project for lead star Segel. He joins Get Him to the Greek script collaborator Nicholas Stoller on the story.
The plot frequently references how the world has “moved on” from the Muppets and the dialogue is full of in-jokes.
Characters talk about reciting plot points and being in a movie and it’s hilariously never explained how Gary’s Muppet obsessed brother Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) is one of the puppeted individuals himself (their mum must have some mighty strange DNA!)
Long-time TV director James Bobin (The Flight of the Conchords, Da Ali G Show) makes his big screen debut and uses plenty of visual flourish to bring the film to life.
The song and dance numbers sometimes involve hundreds and Kermit’s round-up of the rest of the Muppets is a creative highlight (travel by map!)
Segal and Adams have a blast and there’s a who’s who of cameos, including Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis, Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, Whoopi Goldberg and Emily Blunt (extra brownie point there, she’s a favourite of mine).
But, crucially, Bobin doesn’t let his film get burdened by the weight of its guest stars as, Black apart (we’ll get to him in a second), they’re all on-screen for no more than a couple of minutes.
The nods to the eighties are a common theme with music and an ‘80’s Robot’ and the Muppets themselves are a riot, particularly Kermit, Piggy, Animal and Gonzo.
At times the movie is a bit too daft and cheesy and the material involving Jack Black, and Black himself, falls surprisingly flat given he’s normally great comic value.
The Muppets also starts better than it ends with a stronger first half but these are minor quibbles for what is one of those rare beasts; a film for the whole family to enjoy.
For those of an age during the eighties it’ll also be a nice trip down memory lane.
Now, if only they’d get round to making that live action Thundercats movie!
Rating - 7 out of 10.