The Muppets (2011)
“It’s time to play the music.”
Nobody was more excited than I was to hear that, at long last, we were getting a new Muppets movie worthy of a theatrical release with great talent behind and in front of the camera. The last great movie featuring the gang was, arguably, The Muppet Christmas Carol and it had been a horrible slide downhill since that shining star of Muppety greatness.
“It’s time to light the lights.”
Okay, some people were probably a bit more excited than I was but let’s just not argue with the fact that I was very, VERY excited. I love The Muppets. I have done since I was a child. If you don’t like The Muppets then, frankly, I don’t trust you.
“It’s time to meet the muppets on the Muppet Show tonight.”
Jason Segel had been promoting puppet-based fun ever since the fantastic Forgetting Sarah Marshall so the news that he was co-writing, producing and starring in the film came as very good news. It was a seal of approval, one fan standing in for legions of them.
“It’s time put on makeup.”
The fact that Segel was going to be joined onscreen by the Julie Andrews of the 21st century, Amy Adams, wasn’t necessarily the best news ever but Adams is certainly good to watch in the right movie (just avoid the likes of the dire Leap Year). Singing and dancing wouldn’t be a problem and, surely, her winning smile and positive attitude would fit nicely with The Muppets. Rashida Jones was another human in the cast and another person I liked. And Chris Cooper was going to be the villain of the piece. Be warned . . . . . . he raps at one point, but in a way that causes genuine chuckles.
“It’s time to dress up right.”
And then we had the most important factor of all. The people making the movie were going to do right by the characters. They were going to restore The Muppets to former glory and the movie would actually be about just that, while also introducing a new character named Walter (a puppet character who also happens to be the brother of Jason Segel’s character though the movie, amusingly, never questions such implausible genetics).
“It’s time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight.”
The gang all back together, the gags as whacky and frantic as ever, Animal on the drums, a bunch of celebrity cameos. I try never to get my hopes up too much for any movie but this seemed like nothing could go wrong. The trailers did what all trailers do, they included a number of great moments and raised expectations even further (I’d go as far as saying that the trailer parodying The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trailer was one of the greatest trailers of the last decade, which is quite a trailer-filled sentence to piece together). My mind was made up. As long as nothing was really messed up then I knew that this just couldn’t go wrong.
“Why do we always come here?
I guess we’ll never know
It’s like a kind of torture
To have to watch the show”
So, where DOES The Muppets go wrong? It IS amusing and it is fun for the family but it’s lacking a certain something. Perhaps it’s just the fact that Frank Oz is no longer providing some of the voices (the replacement does a GREAT job but fans can tell the difference, ever so slight as it is). Perhaps it’s because, as is so often the case, the trailer had all of the best moments packed into it. Perhaps the gang have all managed to retain their Muppet charm but have simply grown up a bit, taking the edge of their anarchic and lovably kooky ways. The Muppets will appeal to fans of the show who are of my generation (let’s say that those aged 30-40 may end up loving this the most) but it’s a movie powered by very little once you look past the goodwill and nostalgia that viewers have for the lead characters.
“But now it’s getting started
Why don’t you get things started?
It’s time to get things started
On the most sensantional
This is what we call The Muppet Show!”
I can’t mark this down as an average, or below-average, movie. This is a Muppet movie. And it’s a very good Muppet movie. It’s just not quite the return to former glories that fans like myself may have been pining for (a phrase I have found myself using more and more over the past few years, sadly). If you go to the cinema to see The Muppets then you’ll have fun and any kids you take along should also have fun. It does a good job. I already know that I’ll be buying it on shiny disc when it comes out some months down the line. But I also already know that I’ll spend more time rewatching the older movies than I will visiting this one. Perhaps that was inevitable and the fact that this film is actually a good, fun Muppet movie is not something to be ungrateful for. That, and the amazing singing chickens.
Now, a one and a two and a three . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MAH NA MAH NA!
DIRECTOR: JAMES BOBIN
WRITER: NICHOLAS STOLLER, JASON SEGEL
STARS: JASON SEGEL, AMY ADAMS, CHRIS COOPER, RASHIDA JONES, KERMIT THE FROG, MISS PIGGY, FOZZIE BEAR, THE GREAT GONZO, ANIMAL
RUNTIME: 103 MINS APPROX