movie film review | chris tookey


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  Muppets Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
7.05 /10
Amy Adams . Jason Segel , Peter Linz, Chris Cooper
Full Cast >

Directed by: James Bobin
Written by: Henson

Released: 2011
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 98

A very pleasant surprise.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Wistful, silly and adorable, The Muppets is a wonderfully entertaining musical comedy aimed primarily, and unashamedly, at adults who grew up loving the Muppets. I’m not sure if it will appeal as much to modern children. They won’t have the faintest idea who Kermit or Miss Piggy are, let alone Animal or Lew Zealand the Boomerang fish thrower, but I hope this movie will bring these talented artistes back to the forefront of the entertainment industry. It certainly deserves to.

Though not without its flaws, this is probably the most inventive of the Muppet movies, and certainly the goofiest. Its brilliant central idea is to recognise that, today, the Muppets are has-beens, but even thirty-five years past their sell-by date they have imperishable qualities currently in short supply – notably charm, innocence and optimism.

Gary (the amiable Jason Segel, background left) and his resiliently cheerful girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams, background right, reprising her endearing character from Enchanted) live in Smalltown, America and decide to take Gary’s drippy best friend Walter (Peter Linz) with them on holiday to Hollywood.

As Gary and the suspiciously Muppetlike Walter are lifelong fans of the Muppets, they visit their celebrated Studio in Los Angeles – in reality, the TV shows were shot in Britain’s answer to Hollywood, Boreham Wood – and are shocked to find that the 30 year-old studios have fallen into decay. The tour guide (Alan Arkin) has seen better days, if not decades.

The visitors overhear to their horror that evil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper with a maniacal laugh) is about to demolish the studio and start drilling for oil.

So our three heroes find a sad, down-on-his-luck-and-feeling-more-blue-than-green Kermit the Frog and persuade him to reunite the gang for one last money-raising show. This isn’t easy. Animal is undergoing anger management therapy and strictly forbidden to play drums. Fozzie Bear is playing Reno with an awful Muppets tribute show called The Moopets. Only Gonzo the Great and Miss Piggy have done well, he as a plumbing millionaire, she as a chic fashion editor in Paris, with a snobby secretary played of course by Emily Blunt.

Not all the gags work, the central concept of putting on a show to save a theatre pretty much defines the word “corny”, and one or two of the numbers – especially the rock anthem We Built This City - are ill-chosen.

The song-and-dance numbers written specifically for the film, however, by Bret McKenzie are a delight, witty and staged with infectious energy.

The affection that Segel and his co-writer Nicholas Stoller have for the Muppets shines through the production, and give it a pleasantly nostalgic glow. And it’s a shrewd idea to reprise a few Muppet favourites – The Rainbow Connection, the opening title number and, of course, the infernally catchy Mahnamahna.

One sadness is that the film doesn’t contain any A-list stars – the best it can do is Jack Black – whereas in its glory days the TV show could attract just about anyone: Bob Hope, Julie Andrews, Peter Sellers… Still, perhaps that will change.

Maybe enough people will see this movie to make the showbiz powers-that-be realise that all the best comedy is, er, deeply felt.

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