Thursday, 23 February 2012

Film Review: The Muppets

I find it hard to understand why anyone would not love The Muppets. Their squeaky voices, slap-stick humour and cuddly nature is loved across the globe. They have been around for over half a century, and like a fine wine, get better with age.

I am not a massive fan by all accounts, in fact I would not have been able to name you more than five characters before I went into the film, but essentially, you do not need to know them. The film appeals to fans of old and new, which is possibly why it has won over the critics and reviewers, and has gained its critical acclaim, and also the reason for me going to see the film in my local cinema.

For fans of the original television and film series, it re-generates the much loved puppets into the 21st century. They essentially still have all their traditional humour and gags, the characters are the same and the ratio between puppet and human has never been so strong, but they do it with a touch of class that many Hollywood kids movies do not have anymore.

Which is why it is so appealing to new fans, particularly families. For kids, it is a little bit like a pantomime act. You have Kermit, the main hero; along with his helper, a new Muppet - Walter - who represents all the fans out there who love the Muppets just as he does. Then you have the dame; the seductive, the alluring and the diva-ish Miss Piggy, in all her beauty. How Meryl Streep got an Oscar nomination and Miss Piggy did not is beyond me! You also have the bad guys also, one in particular played by Chris Cooper, who looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself. The narrative might be predictable, but it is enjoyable to watch and does not grow tired.

The story is staged around Walter, who loves the Muppet. After hearing about plans to knock down the old Muppet Studio, he helps get the gang back together, by putting on a spectacular show full of humour, action, suspense and a good few musical numbers. A particular favourite had to be Camilla the Chicken clucking along to Forget You by Cee Lo Green, although some of the original numbers - including the Academy Award nominated song Man or Muppet - are equally as good, either touching the hearts of the audience, or getting their groove started.
The thing that I love the most is the mixture of live action and puppets. Kids films are so focused on animation nowadays, that seeing a mix of real on-screen drama together with puppetry and animation is somewhat refreshing. Amy Adams and Jason Segal are perfect in their roles as Mary and Gary, providing their own mini-narrative strand to support the main story. Both, albeit badly, dance and sing along, which ensures humour from the audience.

The film features loads of cameo performances to, which include Selena Gomez, Jack Black and Neil Patrick-Harris. Not only do they add to the glamour of the movie, but they take away some of the strain from having too many Muppets on screen (it can get a little overbearing at times).

What it comes down to however is 100 minutes of comedy, fun and entertainment wrapped up in a film that not only amuses the crowds, but offers a sort of eulogy to the creation and inspiration of the Muppets. The film's director, James Dobin (Bruno, Ali G, Borat), has really captured the hearts of his audience and brought the thought-to-be-extinct family of furry friends back to life through this critically-acclaimed and highly successful film.

Some people might be a bit dubious about reviving classic kids cartoons, with the likes of Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Smurfs as recent failures, but The Muppets was more than just an advertising gimmick. It was a phenomenon which is still enjoyed today. With the crowds going wild for more, I hope it will not be the last adventure we see from the gang.

4/5 Stars

Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia

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