Director: James Bobin
Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy and the rest of The Muppets.
Running Time: 98 minutes
Synopsis: On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, and his friends Gary and Mary from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets’ former stomping grounds. To stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate
I have had a number of weeks to digest THE MUPPETS. I didn’t want to rush into writing a review for the film immediately after seeing it as I really wanted to think about the film and not pen some hastey slosh to give the wrong impression of the film. You see, the problem with THE MUPPETS is that it is a very hard film to review objectively. Though, I will try to.
Let’s start, as I always try to do in my reviews, by telling you where I am coming from in terms of The Muppets history. I am 35 years old (nearly), and I remember being sat at my grandparents house at teatime waiting for the original Muppet Show to start when it was indeed being broadcast, I believe on ITV . I thinknit went out once a week over a few seasons up until 1981, which would put me at just over four years old. Now, I’m possibly too young to remember the show the first time around, so I either caught reruns or at very most the last season of the original show when it aired on the box. I remember the opening number, right on down to the camera angles, the two old guys up in the box (Statler and Waldorf) making some random jokes that changed every episode and remembering that one of them looked just like my Grandad. I remember the celebrity guests, the cameos, I remember that theme tune, I remember owning a cuddly Fozzy bear (which I used to keep at my grandparents house in the cupboard underneath the stairs, along with my magic set); I remember wanting to meet Kermit and loving Gonzo and his crazy stunts. I remember a lot. I remember the movies and I remember watching them at Christmas. I remember owning them on video and I remember watching THE MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL at the cinema (I would have been 15), and then I remember growing up and I’m sad to say, forgetting them, and the love that I had for them until this very day. Those last four words are the reason that I have held off on my review.
So, let’s fast forward to the present day and indeed my first Sunday morning screening of 2012 at the Empire Leicester Square in January. It’s true that I felt no emotion leading up to this screening. To me, it was just another film… just another Sunday morning, aka hangover and having to deal with literally thousands of screaming kids screening. Not the best. The film started, and again, not emotional attachment whatsoever. The first musical number in the film, Everything That I Need, featuring the leads Jason Segal and Amy Adams, along with new Muppet Walter dancing through Smalltown USA, actually quite annoyed me, and indeed my partner who I saw the film with. It annoyed me that it annoyed her and I was annoyed that I was being annoyed by yet another seemingly dire Sunday morning screening experience. Anyway, a minor argument was silently held between the two of us and the film continued. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. The action is relocated to Los Angeles and then it happened. Walter meets Kermit.
My head leaned forward, my ass shuffled back in the seat and I held my chin on my fists as I felt an unstoppable well of water collect in my eyes. That morning the Empire, Leicester Sqaure transformed itself into one massive time machine and transported me back to my childhood and the very early 1980s at my grandparents house in Gloucestershire. It all came flooding back… in floods, and floods. There was Kermit, all of these years on, washed up in his Bel Air mansion with the haunting collectables from yesteryear; the paintings of his former Muppet friends hanging on the wall behind him, all almost coming to life as he sings a nostalgic song reminiscing of a bygone time, something that was happening to me, live, in this gigantic multiplex. A truly wonderful experience.
From there on in I was hooked, and the movie would not let go of me. I smiled, and then I laughed, the silent argument between me and my girlfriend instantly forgotten about, my one hand gripping hers tightly, the other trying to wipe away the tears of joy that wouldn’t bloody stop leaking from my eyeballs. I love every single part of this movie.
I held back on this review as I wasn’t 100% sure that I was being affected by my emotions towards my days playing with Fozzy and my magic set back in 1980s Gloucester or the film or the history of The Muppets themselves. The fact is, I just can’t review this objectively and I don’t the answer to my own question. The film hit me straight between the eyes and right in the heart but I truly believe that the answer is actually a little bit of all of these.
Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s script, and James Tobin’s wonderful direction leads to a lovingly crafted film and I love the fact that Segel as an actor and fellow lead Amy Adams graciously step back to allow the true stars, The Muppets, take center stage to dominate their movie. I wasn’t particularly taken by THE MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL as everybody else, or indeed THE MUPPETS TREASURE ISLAND etc, but I believe that the reasoning behind that is that The Muppets played characters in those films… and here they play themselves, and boy it all works wonderfully! There are some great cameos, none of which I will spoil for you, but watch out for them. I will mention Chris Cooper has got a guaranteed hip-hop career ahead of him if he decides to ditch the acting and teams up with Dr. Dre for some street west coast beats.
I said in our podcast this week that you need to be either five or thirty-five (and nothing in between) to enjoy this film, but since thinking about it as I write this review, and frantically try wipe more moistness away from my eyes, that this may not be the case. My lovely girlfriend turned full circle halfway through and said that by the end she liked it too. She’s 27 and knew nothing about the film before she saw it. The kids also loved it…and that’s the best thing about it. The Muppets will live on through a new generation and hopefully we get more adventures from Kermit, Miss Piggy and co. So, please, let’s make this happen Disney.
Segal, Bobin and co. have delivered the almost perfect Muppets movie, and I thank you for taking me back to my childhood, surprising me and delighting me, and I truly mean that. It will have its critics, and I know some of them, but I don’t care. I love it, the little four your in me loves it, and I can’t wait to see it again. Applause.
Yes, five bloody stars. Absolutely. It has Everything That I Need. I am a man, but I will always be a Muppet (fan).
THE MUPPETS is released across the UK on Friday 10th February.