Film Review: The Muppets (or ‘Grow up! Go and See This Film’)

Why go to a film like The Muppets if you’re going to cringe the moment they start with their deliberately twee musical numbers, or if you’re going to ask questions such as ‘How does Jason Segal have a Muppet for a brother?’

You’ll have to ask my brother, because he came out of this film with a face tripping him. Perhaps he’s too cool to enjoy something like that. Ha!

Similarly a friend of mine tweeted from his seat in the cinema saying he was in for a long two hours when he went. But then his idea of a good film is The Fountain so I take his opinions with a pinch of salt!

I think it’s safe to say that if you’re going to enjoy this film you have to be able to enjoy the musical numbers, be able to disengage the logic centres of your brain and…well..like the Muppets.

If you’re the type of person who won’t be able to get past the notion that Gary is a human and his brother Walter is a Muppet then don’t bother, because you wont enjoy it.

I mean, it’s obviously a kids film – it’s a Disney film after all – but it’s one that has been deliberately written so that adults can appreciate it too. While the kids will enjoy the slapstick elements and the more obvious gags, there are plenty of bits of subtle-yet-laugh-out-loud humour for the adults to like as well.

And that’s the key. You watch this film if you can find the level for you to enjoy it yourself. To be honest, I think it’s quite sad when people don’t allow themselves to enjoy a film like this – and that’s exactly what the situation is with some of them. You’ll notice I say ‘allow’ and I think that’s the crucial thing. Yes, some people just won’t enjoy it and that’s fine but there are others who probably would enjoy the film if they watched it locked away in a dark room where nobody could see them tearing up at the site of Kermit the Frog singing Rainbow Connection, but if they were asked to watch it publicly they would baulk at such a suggestion. After all, they are serious people. The types of people who watch films like Requiem for a Dream or enjoy the opening 40 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But we know their secret.

Worse than them are the people who will scoff at watching a film like this as it’s ‘for children’ yet they’ll enthuse about how they watched turgid shit like The Human Centipede or a film where someone was brutally raped and had their limbs cut off because that’s  a really ‘adult’ thing to watch.

Personally I’ve always thought it’s people like that who need to grow up.

What’s It About?

When Gary (Jason Segal), his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) and Walter (a Muppet) go on holiday to Los Angeles to see the Muppet Studios, Walter overhears a plan by an evil businessman that the Muppets ownership of the studios is away to expire and unless they come up with $10m to buy them outright, he will demolish it and drill for oil.

So Walter must convince Kermit the Frog to bring the Muppets back together for a Telethon show to save the studios.

Thoughts

So as I say, this film has to be enjoyed at a certain level. You look at the opening scene and musical number and some people will see a puppet and a creepy looking giant simpleton singing the most sickly sweet song the world has ever known.

For me, I saw Jason Segal taking his Marshall Eriksen character from How I Met Your Mother and ramping the cheesiness factor up to the max, followed by a song that was a parody of the sort of numbers seen in the opening scenes of films like Hairspray.

And that’s how the film continued.

It made deliberate fun of things like montages and the way people manage to travel about so fast in films. I loved the ‘We’ll travel by Map’ stuff and I thought the funniest bit of the whole film was when Grover asked why his story wasn’t told in the montage.

As far as the cast went, both Segal and Adams were good in their roles, as was Jack Black in his, and there were plenty of cameo appearances by actors from some of my favourite shows like Parks & Rec (Rashida Jones), Big Bang Theory (Jim Parsons), How I Met Your Mother (Neil Patrick Harris), Modern Family (the boy who plays Manny) and Community (Donald Glover and Ken Jeoung). I also thought Zachary Levi from Chuck was in it until it was pointed out to me that it was his doppelgänger – John Krasinski from The Office.

And the Muppets themselves? Well they are the Muppets – you either love them or you don’t. The little touches like having Fozzy Bear’s eyebrows being grey were good though, and the puppeteering (because – and I am loath to tell you this – the Muppets aren’t actually real) was great, especially for Walter.

Key to it all though is the story itself. The Muppets have been on the periphery of modern culture for a number of years now, so having a film from the perspective of them being washed up and unwanted celebrities rallying together to win back their studio and the love of the masses was relevant and clever, and the story of poor little Walter looking for acceptance and finally stealing the show at the Telethon was – whisper it – heart-warming.

Musically it was good as well, but it’s a Disney film, so you that’s what you come to expect. Disney don’t just do songs for the sake of it; in many cases they advance their films’ plots with them. I can understand why a song like ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ might be a turn-off to some, but Kermit’s ‘Pictures in My Head’ is actually a very good piece, and numbers like ‘Man or a Muppet’ and of course ‘Rainbow Connection’ are also great.

My only criticism is that I wish The Count was in this, even though I’m well aware he’s a Sesame Street character.

Final Thoughts

So I really enjoyed this film from beginning to end and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

But if you don’t actually like the Muppets or if you’re the sort of person who only enjoys a film about people suffering some kind of abject misery, then don’t bother.

Otherwise, get along to the cinema and give this film a shot.

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2 Responses to Film Review: The Muppets (or ‘Grow up! Go and See This Film’)

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