The Muppets (U)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/02/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Hugely enjoyable, frequently hilarious and utterly charming, this is a treat for old school Muppet fans and newcomers alike, thanks to a witty script, catchy songs, strong comic performances and a host of delightfully funny celebrity cameos.

What's it all about?
Directed by James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords), The Muppets begins in Smalltown, America, where young Walter (voiced by Peter Linz but portrayed in Muppet form) has grown up idolising the Muppets, along with his big brother Gary (Jason Segel). When Gary takes his long-term girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) on a romantic trip to Los Angeles, Walter is thrilled to be invited along, but is devastated to discover that the fabled Muppet studios are a dilapidated ruin and that scheming oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to tear down their theatre and drill for oil.

After tracking down Kermit (Steve Whitmire), the gang decide that the only way to save the theatre is to put on a show and raise the $10m they need, so they set off on a road trip to track down all the remaining Muppets, including Fozzie Bear (Eric Jacobson), Gonzo the Great (Dave Goelz), the Swedish Chef (Bill Barretta) and, of course, the one and only Miss Piggy (Jacobson again).

The Good
Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller's witty, self-referential script is packed with terrific gags (both verbal and visual), great lines and several crowd-pleasing nods to the older Muppet movies. Similarly, the script cleverly turns their absence from our screens into a key element of the plot (Rashida Jones' TV executive protests that audiences have forgotten the Muppets and moved on to reality shows like Punch Teacher!), while simultaneously tapping into a rich vein of nostalgia among viewers of a certain age.

Segel's evident affection for the Muppets shines through his performance, while Amy Adams is utterly charming as Mary – her goofy dance moves during her wonderful “Me Party” number are one of several delightful highlights. There's also a constant stream of inspired celebrity cameos, in keeping with the tradition of previous Muppet movies (if you're a fan of US comedy shows, one moment in particular will have you on the floor with laughter).

The Great
The film's other, equally inspired masterstroke is to bring on board Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie (a close friend of Bobin's) for song-writing duties – he turns out to be a perfect match for the Muppets and there's a pleasing Conchords-esque vibe to the songs that works brilliantly.

The only real problem with the film is a slight tendency towards irritating product placement, but that's a minor quibble that doesn't ruin the overall enjoyment.

Worth seeing?
The Muppets is a thoroughly enjoyable family comedy that delivers everything you could possibly want from a Muppet movie. Here's hoping there's a sequel in the very near future. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

The Muppets (U)
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Content updated: 05/11/2012 20:22

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