The Muppets Review
Nostalgic, silly and touching, the big screen return of The Muppets is simply a delight. With enough nods to their history for adults to reminisce – the new version of ‘Rainbow Connection’ is just heartbreaking in the best way – and enough gags and toe-tapping tunes to appeal to the young’uns, it’s a film that is impossible to watch without a massive grin; one that’s likely to stay there long after you leave the cinema. If it isn’t there, you might want to check your pulse as even the most hardened cynic can’t fail to be moved by the love and attention paid to bringing back a much-loved set of characters.
With their theatre under threat from a local oil tycoon (a brilliantly OTT pantomime performance from Chris Cooper), Gary (Jason Segel) and his muppet brother Walter (Peter Linz) set off to reunite the old gang for one last show in order to raise the funds to save it. That’s about it for plot and in one of numerous self-deprecating gags, Statler and Waldorf show up to mock its simplicity, but that’s all part of the charm. Co-writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller have shown a superb understanding of what makes The Muppets tick, and given it in spades: clean, silly fun. Who needs a third act plot twist when you have Fozzie Bear displaying his fart shoes? Not us, that’s who.
It’s sprinkled throughout with some deliriously enjoyable songs, penned by one half of the Conchords, Bret McKenzie, who firmly deserves his Oscar nom for the glorious ‘Man Or Muppet’. We’d have given it to the joyous ‘Life’s A Happy Song’ though which kickstarts the film in fabulous fashion with a brilliantly orchestrated sequence as the cast dance and sing through the streets. It’s this sense of unbridled glee that permeates the entire film, be it with fourth wall-breaking gags (when rounding up the gang, they suggest driving ‘by map’) or in the performances of the game cast, including a charming Amy Adams and wide-eyed Segel.
Even the fact that the cameos in the film aren’t all that impressive, given the star power The Muppets Show used to attract, doesn’t derail it. If anything the ‘real-life’ cameos (including Jack Black, Selena Gomez and Whoopi Goldberg) pale in comparison to the actors playing a role, like Alan Arkin’s grumpy tour guide and Kristen Schaal’s anger management counsellor. But we’re not here to see the humans in any case and it couldn’t feel more right that the likes of Fozzie Bear with his poor jokes, Animal with his frantic drumming and Gonzo with his flawed stunts are back in our lives, not to mention the return of what we all know is one of the most touching, genuine and believable love stories ever: Kermit and Miss Piggy. All that leaves us to say is... welcome back.
Also, don't forget to catch the genius new Toy Story short Small Fry where Buzz gets usurped by a fast food toy Buzz playing before the film.