Monday, 19 December 2011

Movie Review: The Muppets (2011)


A wafer thin exercise in nostalgia, The Muppets celebrates the frantically positive attitude of the 1970s critters, but fails to add anything new or worthwhile to remember.

Walter, a muppet, and Gary (Jason Segel) are brothers growing up in Smalltown. When Gary and his long-term fiancée Mary (Amy Adams) invite Walter along for a trip to Los Angeles, he is thrilled to finally have a chance to visit the Muppet Theater. But when they get there, they find the place abandoned and decrepit, and Walter overhears a plan by evil developer Mr. Richman (Chris Cooper) to buy the place, raze it to the ground, and drill for oil.

Walter races to find Kermit and convinces him to reunite the old gang, put on a Muppet Show telethon, and raise the required $10 Million to buy back the Muppet Theater. A road trip follows, and Kermit tracks down the likes of Fozzie Bear in a Reno dive struggling as a stand-up comic, Gonzo as a successful plumbing tycoon, drummer Animal undergoing anger management therapy in a group that includes Jack Black, and Miss Piggy as a fashion magazine editor in Paris.

The reunited muppets convince television executive Veronica (Rashida Jones) to broadcast the telethon. As preparations for the show get underway, Kermit and Miss Piggy try to sort out their feelings for each other, Walter struggles with his destiny, Gary has to decide if The Muppets or Mary are more important in his life, and The Muppets have to overcome Mr. Richman's attempts to disrupt their efforts.

While it's always great to enjoy time with Kermit and the gang, the generally forgettable songs and production numbers are directed at the very young, and the script (co-written by Segel) is utterly predictable and lacking in anything that can be construed as wit or genuine laughs. There are some self-depreciating moments, but they smack more of desperation than confidence.

Jason Segel channels Dick Van Dyke at his least convincing, an actor not able to move beyond portraying the role as anything more than entertainment at a party for six year olds. Amy Adams goes through The Muppets almost openly wondering what on earth she is doing.

A long list of names make cameo appearances, including Whoopi Goldberg, Alan Arkin, Emily Blunt, Neil Patrick Harris, Selena Gomez, Mickey Rooney and Judd Hirsch, in a case of too many well-wishers suffocating the party.

The Muppets is a reunion with long-lost friends: some warm memories are shared, but ultimately the experience does emphasize that yes, the world has firmly moved on.






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