REVIEW: The Muppets
The Muppets are back and better than Prozac according to Ben Anderson.
It has been over ten years since the Muppets last graced the silver screen, leaving a fuzzy hole in the hearts of their fans. But Kermit and Co have made up for lost time with their newest caper. The combination of songs, humour and just the presence of Jim Henson’s lovable creations is like an ultra-colourful hit of Prozac that is sure to lift even the most bitter of hearts.
The film revolves around the Muppets trying to save their studios from evil oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) who plans to destroy the studios if ten million dollars cannot be raised. Kermit has to assemble the gang back together, with the help of super-fans Walter and Gary (Jason Segel), and put on one last show.
Cue the return of all your old favourites: Fozzy Bear, Animal, Swedish Chef and Miss Piggy. But this is not necessarily a happy reunion with some of the Muppets struggling to make ends meet in a cynical world that has rejected them. Fozzy, for instance, has been reduced to doing his stand-up in front of uncaring crowds in filthy bars. As we watch him explain to Kermit that he’s washed up you can’t help but marvel at how these quasi-animals are able to evoke such pathos. Fozzy Bear represents the damage that the rise and fall of fame can have on the spirit- like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, but furrier. But as the gang slowly add to their number and the whole cast return, that frown is quickly turned upside down and you wonder why it has taken so long for another Muppet movie to be made.
The musical numbers are brilliant fun with big sing-a-long choruses that High School Musical could only dream of creating. This is probably due to the help of one half of Flight of the Conchords –Bret McKenzie– on board as musical supervisor. Anyone familiar with the work of the New Zealand duo will be aware of their ability to make instantly catchy, hilarious songs and ‘Muppet or Man’ is a particular highlight. Jason Segel, as well as portraying Gary in the film, has done an excellent job with the script. Not only giving every Muppet space to display the idiosyncrasies that made each of them individually lovable, but also updating the humour and taking many jabs at the formulaic predictability of the film.
The film obviously isn’t flawless. The beginning of the film drags and as good a job as Segel and Amy Adams do without their furry counterparts, the film flows better with the Muppets on screen. Hardcore Muppet fans will argue at times that the film creates more of a Sesame Street vibe and attempts to teach us something about ourselves, which was never really an aspect of the Muppets- they were all about having fun.
But for those who are looking for an alternative to the ‘serious’ films synonymous with Oscar season, this is perfect. For an hour and a half you can forget about the economic crisis, global warming and on-going world conflicts and lose yourself in a colourful world where nothing can possibly go wrong. This is pure escapism.