'The Muppets' (UK Release: 10 Feb '12) // Words: Saam Das
"It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to meet The Muppets..." After more than a decade out of the big screen game, it's difficult to do anything but embrace the re-appearance of these much loved puppets. For anyone who holds the warm nostalgia of seeing the 'The Muppets Show' or any of the several feature films, 'The Muppets' is a welcome return that should not disappoint.
The film centres upon Walter, who is effectively the world's biggest Muppets fan, and his brother Gary (Jason Segel) as they venture to Los Angeles on holiday with Gary's girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams). There they find The Muppet Theater and studio in a state of disrepair but furthermore, Walter discovers that Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) intends to destroy the area to drill for oil. Cue a race to reunite The Muppets and raise $10 million.
'The Muppets' reflects a sad reality for many - kids these days don't have the foggiest who they are and consequently, their power has been diminished greatly. But much like the film's main arc, their revival is already in full swing. Writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller filled their script with humour for all ages, adeptly masterminded by director James Bobin, whose tinge of subversion from his work with 'Da Ali G Show' once again rears its hilarious head.
The music is central to proceedings. Brett Mackenzie of 'Flight Of The Conchords' fame (which was created with Bobin, and Jermaine Clement) is on hand as music supervisor and did such a sterling job that one of the film's numbers, 'Man Or Muppet', is one of only two tracks to be in the running for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Oddly, it's one of the weaker numbers - cod melodrama, only overshadowed by a terrifying rap offering from Chris Cooper, who otherwise snarls appropriately in his villainous role.
In terms of the star power, there are no huge names. Amy Adams may be a three-time Oscar nominee but she is not yet a household name. (Soon though, I hope.) Amongst the film's frequent cameo performances is the big star here, Jack Black, who invigorating yet reluctant appearance is entirely apt. But a Muppets film is never really about the people. The Muppets are the stars (as demonstrated by the film's unenjoyable Moopets parody) and in the relate-able Walter, they have a new star.
An incessant musical number too many prevents this from warranting my full and complete desire but regardless, this is a joyful adventure comedy that ranks favourably among the excellent back catalogue of Muppets films. 'The Muppets' is a special film but let me end one of Walter's metaphors, "even the sunniest days have a few clouds".
'The Muppets' is on wide release in UK cinemas from today. The film is preceded by a typically brilliant Pixar short, 'Small Fry'.