Jim Henson’s creations get the reboot treatment in this at once knowing and innocent picture that harks back to the team’s heyday while adding in something new.
It was with a mix of anticipation and concern that I slid The Muppets Blu-ray into my PS3. I have been a fan of the rod and felt creations since Nickelodeon UK reran the Muppet Shows in the early/mid 1990s and I first properly encountered Gonzo The Great, Fozzie, Kermit et al, so the idea of them being ‘rebooted’ didn’t entirely fill me with hope.
Now I’ve seen the film though I have to say that while it wasn’t all I had expected it was still an entertaining and well made movie which captured the essence of the Muppets much better than their last few big screen outings.
The thing that struck most about this film is that it is unashamed variety, much like the original Muppet Show was, with a mix of song and dance numbers, bad jokes, and all the other things you’d expect from the Muppets, all with a light-hearted adventure plot weaving it all together.
Its clear from the start that the filmmakers wanted to make it obvious we were not in the real world, but we are in a world where the Muppets had a popular TV show and were ‘real’ people in their own right, just ones made of felt and fur, giving it the feel of the original series and its associated movies.
On top of this there was a somewhat knowing feel to the whole thing with constant references to the fact that this was a film along with some very self-conscious musical numbers.
While this may sound confusing it is the position the Muppets have inhabited throughout their careers and it continues to work for them and at no point did I find myself thinking of them as puppets but saw them entirely as the characters they are.
While the film did, at times, feel a bit over long, any time I thought it was going on a bit I was soon drawn back in by a classic Muppet moment which never failed to make me smile, from Fozzie’s fart shoes to Gonzo’s failed stunts it was like going back in time.
This sense of nostalgia was one of the things that really felt good about The Muppets and raised many a smile and laugh and I did find that throughout the film I was smiling more than I have in any film for a long time, and there were quite a few genuine laughs too.
Character wise new Muppet, Walter, fits in well with the rest of the crowd, despite my skepticism at the start, and the human characters are all drawn very broad but work well and are well-played by all involved to fit the tone of the movie.
As well as the homage to past Muppet adventures (including a fantastic reprise of the Rainbow Connection) the film features many cameos by a host of film and music stars, some as themselves (Neil Patrick Harris and Whoopi Goldberg) others as characters of one sort or another (Dave Grohl in particular standing out in the background as Animal tribute Animool), which harks back to the celebrity guests of the original Muppet Show.
In the end Jason Segel, James Bobin and co have created a tremendously enjoyable film that revives the Muppets in brilliant style without resorting to pointless post modernism, while still finding a place that works in modern cinema.
The one thing I would say though is that while I enjoyed this movie as a fan of its source material, I’m not sure anyone who hadn’t previously seen The Muppet Show would necessarily get everything that made it work for me.
But either way, it was good to see the gang play the music, light the lights and to be able to once again meet The Muppets on The Muppet Show tonight.
And simply because while finding pics for this I was reminded of it, here’s the combination of two awesome things; The Muppets and Weezer: