Running Time: 103 mins
Directed By: James Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Kermit the frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie bear, Walter, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones
Screenplay: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
UK Release Date: 10th Februrary 2012 – UK
It has been a full 12 years since the Muppets last graced our screens with a theatrical release and as I entered what seemed to be a very excited, packed auditorium I had mixed feelings. The Muppets are a multi-national treasure and everything they have done in the past was so wonderful and mostly in the hands of someone with the surname Henson. This time. Jason Segel of How I Met Your Mother fame had co-written this new movie. Yes, he’s famous and yes he’s a big Muppets fan but does that mean he can truly come up with an idea that will please Muppet fans old and young alike. This wasn’t my only problem. With it’s release in the US last year, there came rave reviews. Everyone loved the movie, so much so that I saw many people going to see it for the second time within days of its release. That was real hype and more often than not, the film never ever lives up to it.
The premise of the new movie is very simple. Gary and his brother Walter are Muppet fans. Gary plans to take his girlfriend, Mary to Los Angeles for a vacation to celebrate their 10 years together. The only problem is that Gary and Walter do everything together and there is no way that he can go to Los Angeles (The home of the Muppet Studios) without taking his brother along. Upon arriving at the studios, they are dismayed to find it an empty shell of its former self. New owner, evil businessman Tex Richman plans to knock it down and dig under the Muppet Theatre for untapped oil. It’s time for Kermit and the gang to come back together and save the studios from extinction forever!
Cut to the opening of the movie and I’m not sure if I am watching the beginning of the end or the start of a new chapter as we are treated to a visual montage of many of the Muppets greatest moments from it’s long history. The beginning really feels like a tribute movie but with a real fun spirit mixed in for good measure. Some films give you 20 minutes to catch up with what is going to happen but not this one. For the very first second we are treated to what the Muppets do better than anyone else. Gag after gag, mickey take after mickey take and usually at their own expense.
The movie combines a nostalgic, funny, and heartwarming Muppet epic with a comedic romance and road trip movie. This well written piece is not just a movie, but a musical with songs that will surely enter the classic muppets repertoire along the likes of the Rainbow Connection and Mah Na Mah Na, both of which incidentally feature in this movie. It is not just the Muppets that shine in this movie. Jason Segel shows he is not only a great writer but a great companion for the Muppets along with his sweet heart Mary, played by the splendid Amy Adams. She brings a sweet, if not slightly dim witted performance that shows Mary’s naiveties and insecurities perfectly. That is unless she is singing!
Chris Cooper plays the likeable villain, Tex Richman that has just enough badness in him to seem real but just enough like ability to make him funny. His unexpected Baddy Rap is a highlight of the movie.
Talking about songs, the score for the film is balanced perfectly between toe tapping musical numbers and funny, but poignant solos. Kermit sings the wonderful “Pictures in my Head” and Jason Segel plays up to the hilarious “Are you a Man or a Muppet”, which I guarantee you will be singing as you leave! Mix in some classic 80s songs and you have the perfect album for that drive to work.
Are there any downside to this movie? Yes, but it is a minor one. We know the Muppets are famous for incorporating current celebrities in their movies. This is no different with Mickey Rooney, Whoppi Goldberg and Selina Gomez and Neil Patrick Harris popping up. They were great, in the UK we know who they are but add to that list Leslie Feist, Judd Hirsch, James Carville and John Krasinski (who are credited as playing themselves and we all suddenly go “who”? I loved the way that Muppets managed to draw in celebrities but I think Disney were a little short sighted in their choice. Yes, the American audience get it but for anyone outside of the States most of them are lost. A shame, as this is such a great movie.
You are going to find it very hard to find a funny, more heartwarming family film this year. It is the perfect movie to introduce the next generation of Muppets fans to the wonder that is their existence. It doesn’t beat Muppets Christmas Carol but it gives it a very good run for its money. Will I be going to see it again? You bet! Will I have the album on repeat? You bet! Will I buy it on DVD? No doubt, it is one a Disney fan must have.
I can’t tell you how much you must go and see this film. Who knows, if it does that well there might be another or even a TV series. You remember those Sunday nights with the Muppets? Wouldn’t you love to have them back again!
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