The Muppets (2011) – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: James Bobin

Cast: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great, Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis

Synopsis: Walter is the world’s biggest remaining muppet fan, having felt a connection with them since childhood.   With his brother (Segel) and his brother’s girlfriend (Adams), they travel to the now run-down muppet studios.   They stumble upon a plan of Tex Richman (Cooper) to knock the studio down to drill for oil, and so set on a mission to reunite the Muppets to save the home of their famous show.

This being the Muppets, it is a great film for the kids.   Yet, it is also so much more than that.   Given that it is older audiences that would best remember waiting on a Saturday night for The Muppet Show to air, this film is filled with just as much nostalgia as it is with hilarity.   After many less than stellar straight to DVD Muppets projects ever since the demise of Muppets alumni Jim Henson and Frank Oz, this film truly captures the spirit of what made these marionette puppets so popular.   It is enough to make one wish that The Muppet Show could be revived for real.

What establishes this film for the wider audience is the fact it begins in flashback.   This serves to not only get Walter’s back-story, and establish both his relationship with his brother Gary, it reminds the audience of The Muppet Show’s brilliant spot in  history.   Segel, being behind the story and a self-confessed muppet fan himself, treats them with loving respect, and the feeling of regret at their subsequent decline in popularity is palatable.   So when Kermit appears for the first time, it is a true delight.

The muppet cast is fantastic, and more in line with classic muppets rather than the more recent dismal movie output.   It is still a little jarring at times that, due to the absence of Henson and Oz, the characters voices are not quite identical to what they once were, but this is a small complaint given that this is an unavoidable evil.   The human cast is brilliant as well though.   Segel, Adams and Cooper are in frenetic OTT form, yet this is fitting next to the behaviour of the muppets themselves.   In addition, the film is filled with a number of fantastic cameos, really showing that the Muppet love has never truly died.

It would be a crime to discuss this film without specific reference to the music.   A number of new pieces of music have been written for this film by the creative talent behind Flight of the Concords.   Their style is really obvious at times, yet the absurdity once again really works with the overall delightfully absurd tone of the film.   In addition, in keeping the reverential elements of the film, one or two classic muppets tunes are performed, or at the very least referred to throughout the film.   I have now committed to get myself the soundtrack at the earliest possible convenience.

The Muppets is a true feel good film in every sense of the term.   It has some emotional, reflective moments, with everything coming out alright in the end.   There is a unique, quirky sense of humour throughout, and it is perfectly balanced to delight both new and long-term fans.   Lets hope that this may indeed signal a true revival for The Muppet Show television series itself!!

4.5 stars out of 5


The Muppets (2011) on IMDB

The Muppets (2011) on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]


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