The Muppets

7 Jun

Director: James Bobin (2011)

Making its first big screen comeback after 12 years, when word reached us that Jason Segel would be the man steering The Muppets back to our screens in the creatively titled The Muppets, I knew these beloved characters and their franchise would be in safe hands. Even if I was sad there wouldn’t be a Cusack in it. Instead, we are given Jason Segel and a musical score from Flight of the Conchords Antipodean funnyman Brett Anderson. While the plot is pretty much identical to previous Muppet outings – theatre threatened with closure by evil laughing suits, must put on lavish benefit performance – The Muppets revels in its own repetition, paying homage to itself in wonderful metaficiton. Too deep an analysis of Muppets? Quite possibly but on the flipside, The Muppets are indeed a cultural phenomenon that cannot be avoided, engrained in the humours across the generations and so it seemed deserving they should be allowed another curtain raised.
Gary (Jason Segel) and his muppet (actual muppet, not dimwit) brother Walter do everything together, facilitating heart warming montages and song choices but not so much facilitating a healthy relationship with Gary’s girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams). Especially when Gary reveals a surprise muppet shaped addition that will be joining the happy couple on their vacation to Los Angeles. You see, Walter is the biggest Muppet fan you’re ever going to meet, and the Muppet Theatre is in LA – it would be cruel not to invite the little guy along. Only when they arrive, the dust has well and truly settled on the joy of the Muppets, leaving a dilapidated tourist relic and a heart broken Walter. But when Walter sneaks into Kermit The Frog’s office and overhears the conversation that Tex Richman (a Texan oil baron, wouldn’t you know) is planning to abuse one of those pesky contractual loop holes and buy the theatre unless The Muppets can raise $10million – we’ve got our plotline. Walter takes it upon himself – and Gary and poor doting Mary – to reunite the Muppets and get their show back on the road to raise the money.
The as-time-passed premise is hilarious, as Kermit and his new gang travel the globe collecting their old friends Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Animal, Pepe and of course Kermit’s long lost love, Miss Piggy from seedy tribute bars, plumbing corporations, anger management facilities and various other locations one might expect to host the career changes of former muppet celebrities. Obligatory celebrity cameos include Ken Jeong, Zach Galifianakis, Dave Grohl as tribute Animal and Jack Black as suitably derranged self as Animal’s sponsor.
We know how it’s going to end, but truly it doesn’t matter. Segel injects a fresh life and humour into The Muppets while remaining faithful to the campness and timeless innuendo that makes up the essence of these familiar friends.

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