Reviewed Apr 20, 2012
Matt Bourne’s review:
After many years in the wilderness, the greatest children's characters of all time return to the big screen & boy has it been worth the wait. In time for a whole new generation of young fans to enjoy, while the older fans can feel warm and nostalgic inside. Since the last big screen outing (Muppets from Space) some of the original Muppet performers have retired (Most notably Frank Oz, from performing as the Muppets that is), they've had a not so good straight to video release (Muppets Wizard of Oz) and then stormed back to the world stage with a brilliant set of parodies which started with Bohemian Rhapsody and ended in the excellent trailers for The Muppets. Now they are back in possibly the best Muppet film since The Great Muppet Caper.
Walter, a young Muppet lives with his brother Gary (Jason Segel) in Small Town where he grew up adoring the Muppets. While his love for them remained unfortunately their popularity dwindled. Gary is planning a trip to Los Angeles with his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), which Walter is tagging along to, so he can visit The Muppet studios and maybe meet one of his idols. Unfortunately when they get there, they discover that the Studio is now a rundown relic. But while they are there, Walter stumbles across a plot by Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to drill for oil below the studios, thus wiping away the last ever memory of the Muppets altogether. He alongside Gary and Mary, decide to seek out Kermit to let him know what's really going on. When they eventually convince Kermit, they realise that to raise the $10 million they need to buy back the studios, the only thing that will bring in that level of money is to put on a Muppet Telethon. But they are going to need to track down the rest of the Muppets first.
It's been too long. The Muppets have been missed. How do we know this? Well, because this film is a joy to watch. You come out with that feeling that you did when you watched your first Muppet show or movie. It's simple, well performed humour, lovingly recreated by self confessed Muppet fan Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords co-creator). The little nuances are there. The music is bright, breezy, and very clever and a whole lot of fun (And now Oscar nominated). The songs in the movie have a real joyful glee about them, that you can’t help but tap your foot or sway your head along in happy abandon, that if you’re not smiling within the opening 15 minutes of the film, it's quite likely that you have no soul. There’s so much here for everyone that a whole new generation will get to enjoy and embrace the Muppets.
But what of the film? Well, its basic plot and simple storytelling are its main strengths. It's never in doubt where the story is going and it's just self referential enough without spilling over into parody for the most part. The new addition of Walter is great, but with the old favourites taking centre stage. Heck, the film even manages to make Jack Black look good, even funny once more, which is a miracle within itself too. Also, the various cameos with various new and some older faces there to look out for are all there. In particular The Foo Fighters Dave Grohl is laugh out loud funny.
If there's any weakness in the film, it's that for some of the older generations of Muppet fans you may find some of the voices (mainly Fozzie) not quite the same, but for the most part you just simply won’t notice it, certainly the younger viewers won’t realise. Also, Rizzo & Pepe don't get much screen time, but again this is minor grumbles, when we get to see and hear from such characters as Uncle Deadly & Link Hogthrob, for the first time since Jim Henson's death. This is a film for old fans and most likely a whole new generation of new fans. It's not often that you get a film that is so innocent in its premise and that delivers big time on humour, fun, music and an all round general good time, so take your chance and make the most of it. The Muppets are back, here's hoping that it leads to a lot more too.
So it's time to start the music. It's time to light the lights; it's time to get to the nearest multiplex to watch The Muppets tonight!