Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Muppets Review

Finally! I have been so excited to see this film ever since the film was first announced by Walt Disney Pictures. I have been a fan of The Muppets since childhood and remain to this day a fan, they make me laugh now as much as they did when I was young. For years The Muppets have been making films, usually direct to DVD, but they have not made a good cinematic film in a while and so the idea of seeing them on the big screen seemed like a great idea to me. So, the latest Muppets was released over in America months ago and has only just crossed the pond. I eagerly anticipated opening day to see the film, particularly because the film had received such positive reviews .But could the film live up to such overwhelmingly great reviews?

The answer to that question is YES. The film is beautiful in every way possible. It is funny, heartwarming and a great reminder of what is great about The Muppets. Director James Bobin (best known for directing and co-creating HBO's Flight of the Conchords) manages to balance the comedy and characterization of The Muppets incredibly well as well as insuring that the characters natural charm is still relevant to a new audience. The film also has amazingly catchy songs like all great Muppet films should. This time the songs are written by fellow Flight of the Conchords veteran Bret McKenzie who puts witty rhymes with upbeat but modern tunes, making the soundtrack CD a must buy. The songs are staged and choreographed in such an unflinchingly traditional musical way that they are as humorous as they are impressive, but also have a touch of the familiar to fans of the original Muppet films such as The Muppet Movie,  The Great Muppet Caper and Muppets Take Manhattan. 

Like many Muppet fans I was worried about the idea of the new film being centered around a new character, but rest assured Walter fits into the rest of the cast with ease. The way screenwriters Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller incorporate the character into the film is interesting, if you have never seen The Muppets before, Walter manages to be the one to introduce Kermit and the rest of the characters to you in a very smooth fashion. Whereas if you are already a fan, you naturally assume the role of Walter, the optimistic fan who wants his idles to get together again and prove the critics wrong. Walters undying fandom of The Muppets will surely resonate with fans like me who have become frustrated at the lack of good Muppet content over the last few years.

[Spoilers Below]

There are a few minor flaws, however these did not at all effect my enjoyment of the film. I would consider them more observations than flaws to be honest. It is quite clear that the voices are not that of the original cast, Miss Piggy is clearly not Frank Oz and Kermit is not Jim Henson who sadly has passed away. This at times is distracting, but I do not hold this against the film in any way. The only other issue I had with the film is that there is a point about half way through where the pacing of the film slows down and as a result very young children might get restless, but all of this is forgiven as The Muppets start their reunion show.

Once The Muppets Telethon starts, the films get better and better. The jokes come thick and fast and honestly I thought it could have been written by Henson himself as it has the same sort of wit and charm that Henson brought to the characters originally. It is clear that everyone on the film is a fan of these characters and more importantly understand what made the characters great in the first place. This is something I feel the filmmakers should receive most credit for as they remain honest and faithful to the characters Henson created. The Muppets Telethon is The Muppet Show as we all remembered and loved. But the thing that shocked me most about the film is how genuinely poignant certain moments are. There are scenes in which The Muppets discuss why people don't like them anymore and to see them perform again and become comedy legends as they once were before is something magical to behold. 

To summarize, The Muppets is an incredible film for both Muppet fans and non-fans alike. The songs are funny and amazingly well staged and the celebrity cameos are brilliant. But the best thing about the film is that The Muppets are as charming and hilarious as they always have been, and to see them go from being obsolete to legends is something I found genuinely moving as a lifelong Muppet fan. I have tried to be deliberately vague on particular jokes and character moments as I would recommend you go and see the film as soon as you get chance. 

The Muppets

10 / 10

Simply Brilliant!

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