Film Review: The Muppets

Directed by James Bobin
Starring Jason Segel, Amy Adams & Chris Cooper

You’re Jason Segel, you’re 22 and Freaks & Geeks has not yet turned out to be the cult hit you’re sure it will be. You’ve given up on the idea of college and Undeclared has is yet to be greenlit. How do you kickstart your career? A puppet musical about the life of Count Dracula, of course! And that’s what he did. Without a modicum of irony, that is what he did. The puppet musical finally saw the light of day as part of Segel’s 2008 script for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and this actually turned out to be an elongated pitch at the long neglected Muppets franchise. Despite Segel’s penchant for showing his penis and crying like a baby, Disney bought the pitch and 4 years later, Segel and writing partner Nicholas Stoller’s The Muppets is finally here.

The new movie sees the arrival of a new Muppet, Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), and his brother Gary (Segel) as they embark on Gary’s ten year anniversary trip with girlfriend Mary (Adams) to LA. Walter tags along in order to realize his dream of visiting the legendary Muppets Studios. They arrive in LA to find the Muppets have completely abandoned the Studio, allowing them to fall into the hands of an Evil Oil Baron named Tex Richman (Cooper).

It’s up to Walter to get the gang back together and save the studios, while Gary must choose between loyalty to his brother in his time of need and saving his relationship with the long suffering Mary. And none of it in stunning 3D! Certain members of the gang don’t quite make the leap into HD and sometimes they look a bit scruffy, but then that’s all part of the charm. Somehow the Tex Richman character doesn’t work and, loathe as I am to say it, this might be down to the casting. The celebrity cameo list that precedes the credits is a comedy delight, from Jack Black to Rashida Jones, it seems no one wanted to miss out on revamping the franchise of these SNL legends, who have been so poorly mistreated by Disney. Think of a current comedy actor. They’re in it.

The musical numbers were all written by Brett McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame, it’s also directed by James Bobin, director of multiple Flight of the Conchords episodes. Any fan of the Conchords will feel their influence but McKenzie’s done well to keep it timeless, just like a Disney musical should be. As a Disney musical, it could’ve done with being a bit more of a tearjerker. The whole experience is an emotional rollercoaster, but the emotional climax chooses laughs over tears. Not the end of the world. The first set piece is a musical number sure to win hearts and minds amongst a new generation of Muppet lovers, not to mention recapturing the imaginations of their parents.

4/5

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