Jim Henson’s brainchildren The Muppets are back in their first feature film appearance since 1999 and what a comeback it is.
The Muppets is no doubt designed for families and young children who have not previously been exposed to the cuddly critters. However, parents will flock to open the floodgates of childhood nostalgia once more and will not be disappointed. The charm of The Muppets is not only their youthful innocence but a selection of clean adult humour mixed in to ensure their longevity with children who are all grown up, without reducing themselves to standard smut jokes. The latest instalment balances this combination in just the right measure.
The films centres around muppet Walter and his realisation growing up with brother Gary (Jason Segel) that he’s different. Having caught a glimpse of The Muppet Show, Walter finds a group where he feels he would belong. As Gary and his long-suffering sweetheart Mary (Amy Adams) head to Los Angeles for their 10th anniversary, Gary surprises Walter by taking him along on the trip (to Mary’s secret bemusement) so he can see ‘The Muppet Theatre’ and hopefully meet the cast.
While soaking up the ‘atmosphere’, Walter discovers that the theatre is under threat from evil oil baron Tex Richman. In a bid to save the theatre from being destroyed, the trio seek out Kermit. Reluctant at first, Kermit agrees to get the band back together in an effort to raise the $10million required to save the theatre and so begins the wild ride to create a Muppet Show after years of separation. Despite encountering flat refusals from TV networks for not being “famous any more”, The Muppets secure a telethon spot and set about trying to save their spiritual home from the clutches of the standard villain.
Segel produced, wrote and starred in this latest instalment and his exuberance and naivety is played out just as the main human star is required to in a Muppet film. The musical numbers are quite frankly a delight with comical and infectiously catchy turns in abundance.
Frank Oz, infamous voice behind Yoda and many of the original Muppets, refused to be involved in the reboot over concerns that Segel’s adaptation included ‘cheap’ fart jokes as well as not honouring the characters’ personalities honestly.
However, The Muppets certainly does not suffer from Oz’s loss or the reasons for his protestations in the audience’s eyes. The most die-hard Muppets fans may see some sense in Oz’s apparent disagreements with the remake but the general viewing public will enjoy a colourful delight and feast of clean comedy.
Best performance: Jason Segel – Amy Adams and Segel work well as an on-screen couple and as individual characters but Segel edges it on the amount of work he has put in.
Best song: ‘Am I a Muppet or a Man’ – Soul searching ballad for both Gary and Walter with some rather comical moments.
Best cameo: Jim Parsons – The film is littered with Hollywood cameos but the only one not announced in advance is The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper. And what a cameo.
Fozzie Bear: What’s more illegal, Kermit, briefly inconveniencing Jack Black, or destroying the Muppets?
Kermit the Frog: Kidnapping Jack Black!
Watch this if you liked: The Muppet Show, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island