Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Muppets - Film Review

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a confession to make. 

For all my professed love of The Muppets, the truth is I've never seen much of them. I know I loved them as a child but can't truly remember them. Added to that, I've never seen a Muppet film (the cinema didn't feature in my childhood).

So, much as I wanted to see the latest Muppet film, I was also a bit worried it would disappoint. There were three main causes for concern. 1) I have a general dislike of "family films" - particularly American family films; and 2) I was worried about the mix of animation and actors, even if this is a long-standing Muppet technique; and 3) I am sceptical about film musicals.

Reader, I shouldn't have worried. Yes, the story was schmaltzy family fare. Yes, it had live action with comic actors. Yes it was an unashamed musical. But above all, it knew it was all these things. It knew it had to not take itself too seriously and it did this with aplomb.

The tone was set early when Gary (Jason Segal) and his Muppet brother Walter complete the first song and dance number (Life's a Happy Song). At the end, Segal presents his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) with a bunch of flowers pulled from his suit with words to the effect of "Sorry they're a bit crushed, that will be the number I've just done."

And so Gary, Mary and Walter head off to Los Angeles where Walter is keen to visit The Muppet Studios and see the place where his heroes trod the boards. The studios, though, have gone to rack and ruin and - even worse - the new owner plans not to turn them into a Muppet Museum but to drill for oil. Cue much maniacal laughter. Cue, also, an attempt to get The Muppets back together to raise $10m to buy back the studios.

The film has a lightness of touch and sense of humour which transcends the more sentimental moments. You'll come out singing "Life's a Happy Song" but here's the Oscar Winning "Man or Muppet":


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