Directed by James Bobin. Starring Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper.
Yes it’s nostalgia for weird and iconic puppets from the 70s and 80s, it’s a bit schmaltzy, a bit self-reverential but it’s also charming, happy, silly and a masked comment on the loss of innocence and joy to be had in the simple things of life.
So Disney didn’t bother to have a press show of this film (they don’t for most films) but we don’t mind paying for our seat that will take us on a journey some place magical and let us tell you about it.
Nostalgia is ‘a yearning for the return of past circumstances, events, etc.’ and ‘the evocation of this emotion, as in a book, film, etc.’. I don’t know if I want the Muppets back with a bang and taking over TV but I do know that the simplicity of their time, the magic evoked by simple hand-controlled puppets in the form of strange humanoids and animals, is something that I do crave. It seems like we’ve lost our ties to these fantasies that touched us and became part of our consciousness. It’s like remembering the lyrics to an old song you haven’t heard in years… it became a part of you because it was so endearing and hence enduring. I may not have been the greatest fan of The Muppets or have seen any of the movies or shows for years but I remember Miss Piggy and what she lovingly called leader-of-the-pack Kermit the Frog: Kermi. How many kids will remember Ben 10 or some other kiddie programme from today in a decade’s time? Even if they do, will they want to see a film of it then?
Jason Segel (also a co-writer and executive producer) plays Gary, Amy Adams plays girlfriend Mary and Walter (a puppet) plays himself as Gary’s brother. Living in Smalltown (reminds me of Smallville), they dance, they sing and they dream. And one day Walter’s dream of seeing the famous theatre and offices of The Muppets comes true as they all head out to Hollywood. And then of course begins a quest to reunite The Muppets and save their heritage from the evil Tex Richman (Chris Cooper).
The Muppets is about performances, it’s about song and so the movie has lots of that. Gary and Mary break out into ballads, Walter whistles his way into a grand finale and The Muppets sing themselves back into people’s hearts. All the original voices aren’t there (at least I don’t think that’s how they sounded 30 years ago) but they’re still cute and funny; Miss Piggy is especially fun.
The special appearances in this film may surprise you. A lot of celeb fans have given The Muppets a helping hand and that’s part of the film’s charm.
The Muppets isn’t a great film but it’s a ‘remake’ with its heart in the right place that shows us we shouldn’t be fiddling around with childhood memories and turning them upside down with horrific ‘prequels’ and ‘retakes’ of masterpieces that some of us will never forget. After the film a lady from the audience said, “After so long a children’s film without 3D”, and I have to agree with her.
Let’s focus on the magic inside the movie because no matter how far out of the screen 3D reaches, it can never truly touch us.