Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Muppets: A review (spoilers ahoy!)

Last week I saw the latest Muppets film.

While there are spoilers to the plot here, there's no major twists or turns - the plot is fairly standard, so I don't think the actual film will be spoiled by reading this.


Gary (Jason Segal) is taking is girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams), to Los Angeles to celebrate ten years together accompanied by Gary's brother, Walter - a lifelong fan of The Muppet Show. Once there, on a tour of the Muppets' Museum Walter overhears a plot to demolish the museum to dig for oil masterminded by Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), and The Muppets need $10 million to save it and must band together for one last show.

The good

The Muppets: as always the leading puppet cast were fantastic. Miss Piggy, Kermit,  Fozzie, Gonzo, et al. were brilliant. Slapstick is what The Muppets do best, and when they did it, it was perfect. I also really enjoyed The Mooppets, but you'll have to go see the film to find out about them. Having said this, they didn't get up to their usual high jinks that we love so much from Muppets Caper and the original Muppets film.

The Music: All the songs from the film were brilliant. "Life's A Happy Song" was beautifully written and executed, Man or Muppet was also great, and filmed beautifully, and Kermit's "Pictures In My Head" ballad was beautifully done too. Tex Richman's rap was superbly executed as well. Anything sung by Amy Adam's was also great.

The Malefactors: Chris Cooper gave the best human performance in the film by quite a long way. He really got the veering-into-pantomime villian. Uncle Deadly also really stood out as his henchman.

The bad

The script: Gary and Marys' plot thread felt really unnecessary, and mostly served as a distraction from the interesting part of the plot, I felt. They could have been entirely cut out, everything would have been fine (although we'd be missing some of the songs). Furthermore, the really cheesy ending could have done with being a little more self aware. They just played it straight, while other egregious film film tropes were lampshaded (e.g. "that was a really expensive looking explosion. I can't believe we had that in the budget." - Fonzie from the trailer) the ending really needed it.

Nor did the plot really give the Muppets room to be really funny. It leaned quite heavily on people's nostalgia for the Muppets instead, and that doesn't lead to a better film. We love the Muppets for their slapstick, and there wasn't enough of it - far less than any other film, I'm sure. Also, the witty characters weren't really witty enough. Statler and Waldorf didn't get any laughs when we saw them, and fell flat pretty much every time they appeared.

The actors: Apart from Amy Adam's singing, and Chris Cooper, the human actors really weren't that convincing. Jack Black felt very misused as "guest host". The part he played was a funny concept, but wasn't really taken any further than that. In addition, the cameo appearances were really underused (except Jim Parsons and Dave Grohl) as though no thought at all had been given to them.

The conclusion

The Muppets is an enjoyable film, but not one I'd go to see a second time. Put on reruns of the old ones instead.

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