THE MUPPETS. Starring Jason Segel, Amy Addams, Chris Cooper, Alan Arkin, Jack Black and Kermit, Miss Piggy and the Muppets. Dirceted by James Bobin. Rated G.
Usually it is the children who are taken to see a show that is considered suitable for them. With The Muppets, it is the film that children could take their parents (and their grandparents) to see. This is especially true if those adults who are not getting any younger have fond memories of Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and the later Muppet Movies. If they are anything like this reviewer for whom The Muppet Show was a delight, even back in the late 1970s, then this is the movie outing for them.
In 1981 with The Muppets Movie, the song sung by Kermit, The Rainbow Connection, seemed more than a touch corny and sentimental. By 2011, it seems positively nostalgic.
It is hard to know what the younger generation will make of the film. One eight year old girl told her mother the only person she recognised was Selena Gomez (which some parents and grandparents may well respond, ‘Who?’). A chance for them to be introduced to the Muppets.
The basic idea is a nice one. Two brothers have been fond of the Muppets on television for years, all the time they were growing up and now into adulthood. We suspend disbelief when we see that one brother, Gary, is tall and human (Jason Segel who co-wrote the screenplay) and the other is short and a Muppet, Walter. When Gary and his fiancée, Mary (Amy Addams) visit LA, they take Walter who discovers that the Muppets studio and theatre are run-down and about to be taken over by an oil tycoon (Chris Cooper as the aptly named Tex Richman). They find Kermit and help him round up the other Muppets, including Miss Piggy who works for Vogue in Paris. And they go back to that old, old story, the putting on of a show.
Needless to say, it is good to see them all back again – some of them could have more screen time. But, the old Muppet Show introduction is there, Statler and Waldorf commenting again. They find Animal doing an anger management course where he could not mention drums – this set him off! Jack Black was on the course too, so they abduct him when the TV network wants a celebrity to host the show. There are the usual jokes, stories and songs – and the shy Walter finds his talent (after a pep talk on the matter from Kermit).
There are some funny lines when Gary and Mary refer to the film that they are in, especially Gary not wanting to intervene because he had just sung a sad song. Then there are quite a few cameo performances, from Alan Arkin as a guide, with Whoopi Goldberg and others, including Selena Gomez, who turn up for the show.
Do Kermit and Miss Piggy rekindle their romance? Of course, they do. And we can re-kindle our delight in the Muppets.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out January 12, 2012