Monday, 28 November 2011

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The Muppets [Review]


Opinion: B+
 
Jim Henson's Muppets may have been outdated and cast out of everybody's sight and care. Despite so, the entire Muppets Show returns to the silver screen with refreshed self-depreciating humour and rekindled spirit to show that people still yearn for the good old entertainment that Kermit and friends used to bring us. Surely a hit with those who grew up with them on television, and likely to make new fans out of the new generation audience!


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. With secret, signature, celebrity cameos, Disney’s “The Muppets” hits the big screen Dec. 8, 2011.


Didn't see much of Jason Segel's prominence until The Muppets, the first movie since their last in 1999 (Muppets from Space). This would also mark as Walt Disney's first produced and distributed Muppets feature.

Besides entertaining with his solo and mass dance numbers, Segel also co-scripted the film with Nicholas Stoller to inject so much wits and humour with his pen. On top of that, writer and director of Da Ali G Show James Bobin surprisingly retained the pure goodness nature of the Muppets and yet reinvented the film with his sharp execution of the staged segments.

What brought the film alive would essentially be the Muppet characters themselves, or rather the puppeteers (credited as Muppet Performers) who induced so much life into them via their hand motions. Especially seen in Kermit as his green head was revealing of certain minute hand gestures that produced the wide-ranging emotions from frowns to contemplation.

So striking was Kermit's expressive demeanour that I actually felt guilty and sorrowful during the scene when they reminiscenced the good old times of the Muppets getting together for a show. The soulful track lyriced with Kermit's truthful confessions also heightened the scene much.

Predictably, the Muppets came rolling out one by one to induce nostalgia amist excitement as Kermit went on a drive with Mary, Gary, and the latest Muppet character, Walter, to get the Muppets Show back together again.

A big question would naturally surface in most minds: Would so many Muppets vie for too little screentime?

As mentioned prior, the Muppets were self-aware and during specific scenes, they would actually acknowledge it and recommended montages during the gathering back of all the Muppets in view of the limitation of time. Only those with interesting segments would be featured in dedicated scenes (which resulted in hilarious results when one questioned the exclusion of his segment).

Besides the Muppets, there's some notable performance by the human cast such as Jack Black and Amy Adams. While their roles might be sidelined by the Muppets, Adams and Black never ceased to prove as magnetic screen presence. Especially Adams as the pure-hearted Mary, faithful lover of Gary. Adams couldn't have been better casted with her angelic good looks and chirpy demeanour.

Jack Black played his sarcasm style well in a scene with Fozzie Bear (whose jokes were well known to be old and dated), it referenced on a subtle notion that with a bit of new mixed with the old, everything could be back on track or better than it used to be.

Although earning little screentime, I really did dig into the critical comments by Statler and Waldorf (the pair of old farts who always disagreed with everything). They never ceased to make me laugh and acknowledge certain facts behind their crude remarks.

Together with some takes on certain renown tracks and originally composed ones, The Muppets really made a refreshing cinematic take after several years to reclaim its well-deserved fame and adoration. Here's one of the emotional tracks originally composed by Bret McKenzie that really got to me - "Man or Muppet":


Chances are, if you're familiar with the Muppets, you'd love the film. If you aren't, you would learn to give them a second chance.


PS: Don't forget to catch the Toy Story new short "Small Fry" that's attached at the front of The Muppets screening!

(Screening courtesy of Walt Disney Studios SG and Nuffnang SG)


2 comments:

  1. I loved this movie. It was a nostalgia feast for me and exactly like watching a full length movie version of my beloved childhood show. I love the small touches, the old Sesame Street stars and their "families" watching the telethon, the fact that you could see the stitches on Kermit's neck and the Bob Hope welcome as an echo when they walked into the old theater.

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  2. @Melissa Yes, nothing beats nostalgia hitting us in the nose for an hour and a half non-stop. I did enjoy the film as I felt like the Muppet characters had so much life despite being hand-driven theatrics.

    Glad that you shared a liking for the film with me Melissa! :)

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