The Muppets * * *

Genre: Comedy / Musical

Director: James Bobin

Writers: Jason Segel & Nicholas Steger, based on characters created by Jim Henson

Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones

Running Length: 103 minutes

Synopsis: On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets’ former stomping grounds. To stage a telethon and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate. Will the Muppets be able to band together and save the theater in time?

Review: It’s sad but true – while most children will still recognize the Muppets, they are no longer as culturally relevant as back in the 70s and 80s. Anyone who is above the age of 30, however, will likely have fond memories of watching The Muppets Show or Sesame Street during the formative years of their lives (myself included, of course). As such, although The Muppets is positioned as a movie for the young ones, the adult viewers are likely to be the ones who will find themselves enjoying the movie (and riding the incessant waves of nostalgia). It’s still a fun watch for the kids, for sure, but there’s no doubt the older audiences are the ones who will be able to tap into the emotional centre of the film.

It’s not exactly a sophisticated plot, and the human actors aren’t given much to do. However, in the same vein as the older Muppets movies, The Muppets is chock-full of cameo appearances, and it’s quite fun to spot all the stars that appear in the film. Also, the fourth wall is repeatedly broken in the movie in amusing ways, which again is a nod to the history of the Muppets, on both the small and big screen.

Although positioned as a musical, there really aren’t that many songs and performances to truly classify The Muppets as a true musical. In fact, after the first reel, which does feature a number of decent song and dance performances, director James Bobin seems to divert his attention elsewhere, resulting in sporadic songs that feel increasingly at odds with the rest of the movie. However, of the 9 songs featured, 3 are classic Muppets songs, which will definitely be familiar to anyone who has grown up with the Muppets.

Despite its imperfections, The Muppets is great fun both for newcomers to the franchise and “old-timers”, and is certainly an excellent choice for families during this holiday. Who knows – with this reinvigoration, it may represent a new era for The Muppets, moving them back into the limelight, which would not be a bad thing at all.

Rating: *** (out of four stars)

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