The Muppets

Most Muppet movies were spoofs of other movies such as Wizard of Oz, Christmas Carol or Treasure Island. But this time round we return to basics and focus on the characters themselves and what has become of them since their career launch pad The Muppet Show was cancelled by the networks. Now the Muppet Theatre lies derelict and echoes with the maudlin sounds of fun gone by. Our favourite characters have now resigned to less glamourous jobs to make ends meet and now the theatre itself is under threat from an evil developer. Cue Walter, a massive fan of the Muppets and someone who will later himself discover IS a Muppet, who goads Kermit into ‘getting the band back together’ and raising $10 million to save the Muppet Theatre from closure.
This film is very enjoyable. It seems that since Shrek, companies such as Disney and Dreamworks have realised what British pantomimes have known for a long time. That children’s films don’t necessarily have to be exclusively designed for children and that if the adults who escort the children enjoy the film, then the children will also. And, indeed, the adults won’t mind having the DVD of it on constantly too. In the case of Shrek it is often a nudge and a wink to innuendo. But this film has cleverly catered for the adults own childhood by making reminiscence of the Muppets 1970’s success a strong theme. Mix that with some great music from Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie (most notably the Oscar winning song “Am I a man or a Muppet?” complete with cameo from Jim Parsons) and the adults are sold, ergo, so are the kids! Not to mention the subtle film parodies, again for the 70’s-80’s generation, including The Blues Brothers and Bugsy Malone to name a few.
Studios can often make a mistake by seeing a product as a itemised commodity rather than the collective experience it is for many. When “Dr Who” returned to TV it owed much of its success to the fact that it was made by people who loved it, understood it and fought to get their way with it. I got a similar impression from this movie. Nothing was re-invented, nor dully repeated, but was embraced and enhanced by a production team who understood it. I appreciate I may be being over-analytical about a film on the Muppets, but I also believe giving credit where it’s due and if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. After all, great films can be ruined if remade/sequelled badly and can even eclipse the originals (St. Trinians, Carry On Columbus, Blues Brothers 2000)
If I was to be picky, I would love to have seen more of Miss Piggy, but I imagine that was a contractual thing (her lawyers are said to be quite ruthless). And where was Kermits nephew Robin? Actual, he would have stolen the show so probably best he didn’t appear. And like Walter felt in the start of the film, once it’s finished you do end up pining for the Muppets company. No more spoofs. The day of Variety Show lives. More Muppet Show please. Or how about The Muppet Factor!

The Muppets [DVD] will be released on 11th June 2012

Posted in 2012, DVD, Oscar's 2012 | Leave a comment

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