When three Muppet fans, Gary (Jason Segel), his sweetheart Mary (Amy Adams) and Gary's 'brother' Walter (voice of Peter Linz) learn that Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) wants to drill under the Muppet theater for oil, Gary (Jason Segel), they set out to find the Muppets who have been split up for years to try and put on a fund raising show. Kermit (voice of Steve Whitmire) lives in his faded Hollywood mansion; Gonzo (voice of Dave Goelz) is a high class plumber at Gonzo's Royal Flush; Fozzie (voice of Eric Jacobson) performs with a terrible tribute band called The Moopets; and Miss Piggy (voice of Eric Jacobson) is the plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, while Animal (voice of Eric Jacobson) is attending a celebrity anger management rehab in Santa Barbara.
Review by Louise Keller:
I smiled throughout this madcap joyous adventure in which the Muppets are funny, silly, colourful and totally endearing in what must be the happiest film of the New Year. Everybody loves the Muppets and this happy mix of live-action and puppet chaos is perfect entertainment for every age. Realism is tossed out of the window with musical fantasy cleverly woven into the storyline, as the pressure builds up a head of steam to reunite the Muppets for one last hoorah.
It's a novel idea that screenwriters Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller have come up with in which a Muppet-crazy puppet called Walter is brought up as best friend/brother to Gary (Segal). But now there are three of them in the relationship, and Gary's long-time, sweet and patient girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) is aware they never seem to have alone-time. It's visually funny, pitting the extremely tall Segal beside the tiny Puppet, while the petite Adams is somewhere in between. It is when the three of them head to Los Angeles from Smalltown to check out the original Muppet Studio, now in a state of total dilapidation and about to be demolished, that their mission begins. Find the Muppets team members, raise $10million dollars and save the Muppet Studio.
From the start, we are in on the joke. When it seems unlikely that the Muppets are going to get back together anytime soon, Adams comments 'This is going to be a really short movie.' There's a lightness about all the little asides and the musical numbers from Segal and Adams are a combo of tongue-in-cheek humour and poignancy. (Both are excellent, although somehow it's Adams who is perfection in this scenario.)
Chris Cooper is formidable as Tex Richman, the avaricious oil baron eager to reap the spoils from the oil under the Muppet Studio site and the rap song he delivers is a knockout. The sequences in which we re-meet each of the Muppets are nicely done. As to be expected, Miss Piggy is left until last: beautifully coiffed, she is deliberating which of three donuts to tackle first, as the big deal Paris Plus Size Editor of Vogue. (Emily Blunt in a cameo as her gorgeous assistant - a la The Devil Wears Prada - is a lovely touch.)
There are other celebrity cameos too including Jack Black as the kidnapped Celebrity host and Neal Patrick Harris, who wonders why he wasn't asked to host the show. It's a crazy rollercoaster ride in the lead-up to the Muppet Fundraiser and I wouldn't be giving anything away if I mentioned that this is a film in which everybody lives happily ever after. There was a tear in my eye when Kermit sang The Rainbow Connection and the Frog/Piggy romance was rekindled.
Beyond the laughs, the film also has a strong, beating heart that reminds us the value of being with the most important person in your world and themes include believing in yourself and making sure you are who you want to be. By the way, it doesn't matter an iota whether you are familiar with Jim Henson's classic TV show or not - the characters and their unique charms work their magic easily. This is a gorgeous film - I can't wait to see it again.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If all you want at the movies is a whole lot of fun, with endless jokes, visual gags and music, reliving some of the joys The Muppets brought to TV audiences many years ago, and if all you need is laughter to make it worthwhile ... then by all means join the queue and the laughing crowds inside. And even if you're too young to have a Muppets memory, you will quickly catch on.
The Jim Henson inspired puppets come alive again as they do the classic movie thing that was one of the building blocks of Hollywood: let's put on a show, usually for a heartwarming reason. The innocence is slightly twisted, the harmonious camaraderie is slightly corrosive and the characters are slightly eccentric.
A great sense of humour resides in the creative team's collective elbow as Gary (Jason Segel), his sweetheart Mary (Amy Adams) and Gary's muppet-like 'brother' Walter (voice of Peter Linz) bemoan the fact that the old Muppet theatre in Los Angeles is about to be sold to a wealthy oil magnate. Booo! But where to get the $10 million he is offering for dilapidated old theatre-cum-studio? Obvious answer: a reunion show on TV, with celebrities taking pledge calls. This allows for some amusing cameos from the likes of Whoopi Goldberg but more importantly, it offers the ideal vehicle ... to put on a show.
Jim Henson is dead and Frank Oz isn't involved, but despite the absence of these two icons, the film pulls the Muppets together in splendid style, with new voice actors approximating the Kermit and Miss Piggy deliveries. Given the rivalries and squabbles they have had, we hold our breath for the reunion.
Often self-referential, the film takes us into its smiling confidence as it charts a course for comedy, with a detour to a few emotion-laden byways. Jason Seagal and Amy Adams are terrific in their roles as the lovers whose own journey is a subplot; they manage to balance their innocent characters with a touch of mischief, to avoid being sickly, and the film's tone is gently raucus, as is The Muppets' original style.
The Muppets is ... are ... soooo fun.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
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MUPPETS, THE (PG)
CAST: Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Alan Arkin, Bill Cobbs, Zach Galifiniakis
VOICES: Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel,
PRODUCER: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman
DIRECTOR: James Bobin
SCRIPT: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller (characters by Jim Henson)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don Burgess
EDITOR: James Thomas
MUSIC: Christoph Beck
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Steve Saklad
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 12, 2012
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.