It’s been a while since The Muppets have graced the big screen. Too long if you ask me and this movie proves why it is beneficial to have a Muppet or two in your life on a regular basis (and that’s Muppet with a capital M, not to be confused with muppet with a lower case m, which is generally used to describe a member of the incompetent male species). The opening song of The Muppets has got it right when it proclaims ‘I can’t seem to wipe this smile off my face!’
Comedy these days generally revolves around gross-out sex/vomit/poop jokes. Don’t get me wrong, some of the gross out films of the last few years are my absolute favourites (e.g. Superbad), but The Muppets proves that comedy can be good-natured and just plain barmy and still keep an audience sustained. It’s a bubble-gum flavoured twee film that should only appeal to those below the age of 13 usually, but with The Muppets even adults won’t be able to stop themselves laughing like, well, a muppet. It is amazingly well observed and plays on poking fun at conventions of films. My personal favourites of these has to be evil Tex Richman’s ‘maniacal laugh’ and Uncle Deadly’s speech that ends with ‘it’s an idiom, you idiot!’
The film revolves around new Muppet Walter’s journey to Los Angeles to save The Muppet Studios from being demolished by money-grabbing Richman. His good friends Gary (Jason Segal) and Mary (Amy Adams) accompany him to convince Kermit to put the Muppet gang back together in order to raise funds to save the studios. It’s a predicable storyline, much the same as The Muppets Take Manhattan, but you can forgive that because the comedy moments just keep on coming. The film is meant to be very tongue-in-cheek and a predicable story line is part of that. It enables the film to both play on established genre conventions while also adding a new spin to the conventions. It shows how spoofing should really be done and thankfully doesn’t descend into the realms of irredeemable stupidity like the tragic Epic Movie.
The soundtrack is the film’s strongest point. The songs are funny, catchy and lyrically brilliant. It’s no wonder that ‘Man or Muppet’ won the Oscar this weekend for Best Original Song. It didn’t have much competition but as far as songs go I think it is the best observed song I’ve heard for a while. In my opinion, most men should ask themselves whether they are a man or a muppet on a daily basis (with the answer generally being muppet). Other highlights are a barbershop quartet version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Forget You’ clucked entirely by chickens.
The films also features a wealth of star cameos, with particular stand-outs being Dave Grohl as an Animal impersonator in the rip-off band ‘The Moopets’ and The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons as Walter’s human alter-ego. Praise has to go to both Segal and Adams though. It would be really easy for them to become ridiculously annoying in their bubbly roles, but they are given songs that save them from this fate. Amy Adams expertly makes ‘Me Party’ one of the highlights of the film, and Segal’s part in ‘Man or Muppet’ is just faultless.
I can’t begin to recommend this film enough. If you need cheering up, this is definitely the film for you. If you just want to laugh yourself silly, this is also definitely the film for you. It will make ‘Life a Happy Song’ for days after you walk out of the cinema. Thank you Jim Henson for bringing the world The Muppets. The world would be a darker place without them.