Director: James Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones
Release Date: February 10th
After a twelve-year absence from the big screen, the overblown Muppet style is a shock, and as Jason Segal throws himself into the all-singing, all-dancing, opening scenes it almost seems like a mockery. Yet it soon becomes clear that he is simply playing along with the classic Muppets trait of self-awareness; cheesy gags are swiftly followed by a self-referential quip, such as wry references to the film’s budget or the unrealistic amount of time it takes for characters to travel from one state to another.
The ‘human leads’ are Gary (Segal) and Mary (Amy Adams), whose love interest mainly pushes the classic ‘pay attention to your girlfriend’ moral, but also the cringe-worthy ‘all a girlfriend wants is to be proposed to’ assumption. The story opens with Gary, Mary and Gary’s Muppet fan (and puppet) brother, Walter, who discover on a trip to L.A. that the original Muppets theatre is dilapidated and in danger of being torn down by evil businessman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). The human leads don’t take centre stage however, and it is the classic love story between Miss Piggy and Kermit that proves to be of more interest. That isn’t to say that Segal and Adams’ acting skills are inferior to those of two felt-covered puppets, but somehow there is a little more depth to the frog-pig dynamic, as Miss Piggy asserts her independence and tells Kermit to acknowledge her as an individual and not just part of the group. Fear not however, there are still plenty of laughs to be found in the well-known inter-species relationship.
Another rather touching aspect of the film is the portrayal of the Muppets as friends who are no longer in contact and find it a little awkward to reunite and work as a team again. The entire film plays on themes of nostalgia, yearning for the good old days of showbiz. Alongside this comes a suprising thread of anti-capitalism – Gonzo has become a businessman who has little time for his old companions, the evil archnemis is a corporate high-flyer and there is even a mention of the Muppets in The Economist.
A further surprise is the extensive list of high-profile cameos that grace the screen, which is impressive even by the Muppets’ regular high standards. Fortunately none of the star appearances are given enough screen time to outdo the Muppets themselves, but they do add to the quality of the overall production.
The Muppets are back, and kids and adults alike can expect to leave the cinema smiling. Once they grace the stage, you might just feel inclined to clap.
In a Nutshell: If The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left you disturbed, this is the perfectly heartwarming, giggle-inducing antidote.