Old-school bonhomie and well-calculated cameos in affectionate reboot
Long before there were computer generated characters, fuzz, felt and puppetry launched talking animals onto our television and cinema screens, and few were as well loved as Jim Henson’s Muppets. A bona fide pop-culture phenomenon, Kermit, Miss Piggy and their variety-theatre friends have been absent from our screens for well over a decade, owned by a German company who refused to use them on the grounds that they were ‘not relevant’ in the modern age.
Enter Jason Segel, whose breakthrough performance in Nicholas Stoller’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall featured several puppet-based musical numbers. Co-writing with Stoller, Segel stars as Gary, a small-town guy who, like his brother Walter (who also happens to be a puppet), is a fan of the original Muppet show. While on a trip to LA with girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), Gary and Walter visit the now derelict theatre where the Muppets used to perform, only to discover that oil millionaire Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) has plans to destroy it. The trio set out to put the original cast back together to perform a show that might just save the theatre and stop Richman from getting hold of the Muppet branding.
For many, the sight of the Muppets on the big screen will be enough to ensure a good time, which is just as well, as there’s little fresh about the plotting or the jokes in director James Bobin’s reboot, aside from a trio of new songs by Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie. But with a well-calculated roster of guest stars ranging from Mickey Rooney and Alan Arkin for the oldies to Jack Black and Selena Gomez for the kids, the Muppets’ self-referential humour and general old-school bonhomie should still raise a smile for today’s audiences.
General release from Fri 10 Feb.