CGI vs Sock Puppet Theatre
This is my long-awaited review of the New Muppet’s film. This is the first venture onto the big screens for everybody’s favourite puppet characters for 12 years. Since Muppets Treasure Island there have been massive advances in technology and almost every kids film is now CGI (well at least the very best are). So will old Kermit and Miss Piggy be able to battle it out with Wall-e and the Toy Story Gang?
I was instantly worried when at the beginning of The Muppets as Disney had added a little Pixar short called “Short Fry” starring the Toy Story Cast. I am a huge fan of these shorts and own the DVD of them. I was exited but also a bit worried. This wasn’t a Pixar film so maybe Disney felt the movie was going to need this highlight to soften the blow of a poor Muppets film. It was either under confidence in the feature film or they had a nice wee Toy Story short that Disney wanted to get out there. Thankfully it was the second and The Muppets was excellent, as was the short. The plot of the short is that a miniature Buzz Lightyear toy in a burger joint wants to get out of the display case his is stuck in. He sees regular size Buzz Lightyear in the ball pit and hatches a plan to escape in his place so he can be played with. The story also has a brilliant scene of a support group for “Happy Meal” toys who don’t get the love that other toys get.
So the Muppets. Basic premiss of the film is that Walter (a Muppet) and his brother Gary (played by Jason Segel) live in a happy-go-lucky stuck-in-the-50’s-esk place called Smalltown. Walter grows up being a huge fan of the Muppets as he feels he can identify with them (he never twigs that he himself is a muppet). When he joins Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) on a trip to LA they visit the Muppets studio which is run down and on its last legs. While there Walter finds out about an evil oil barons plan to take over the studio, level it and drill for the oil that lies below. He then finds Kermit, explains what’s happening and that they need to find 10 million dollars before the deadline. The only way to do this is to get the old gang together and put on a telethon to raise the cash. Can they get the gang together? Can they put on a show?
Here is where I usually give a whole “there maybe spoilers ahead” but there will only be one and it’s not critical to the film. I will however put a wee spoiler alert in italics when it coming!
So my thoughts on this film. I loved it. It’s the first film I have seen in ages that I couldn’t find a fault with. I’m not saying that they whole film is gold, it has its lulls but even these are entertaining and develop the story, but at its best it is brilliant. The film works on a few levels. First it takes the mick out of itself, it’s not at all serious and there are a lot of little nudge nudge references given to the audience. It also has a wee go at the popular “singing” film where people burst into sporadic song by doing the same thing but with a “tongue in cheek” attitude to these scenes. One of these songs (Man or a Muppet) also won an Oscar for best original song. It is also a really good Muppets story. All the main characters get their time to shine and whole film is entertaining, funny and really easy to watch.
Ok this paragraph has the small spoiler. Here I want to look at the subtle joke that is made when getting the Muppets gang back together. So the gang need 10 million dollars to survive but the “ONLY WAY” is to put on a show. Obviously it’s not the only way and as you meet each of the Muppets you notice that Miss Piggy (who is working high up for Vogue) and Gonzo (who owns a massive bathroom warehouse) could probably both afford 10 million straight off. Also Kermit lives in a Bel Air mansion which he could probably sell. At least between them they could stump up the cash. To drive this joke home Gonzo blows up his factory when he decides to joint the cause rather than sell it, for say, ten million dollars. I liked this. It kind of looks that the decision making of characters in films and makes a joke about them (like when you can’t understand why a character did one thing rather that the easier and more effective option other than it makes the film better).
Last off I would like to mention the cameos in the film. There are loads but they are done really well. I will not tell you who they are but the best are when Walter looks into the mirror and sees a human version of himself and the person who plays drums in the Muppets tribute band in Reno.
I would advise anyone to go and see this film. It’s really good and I probably should have gone to see this again instead of seeing Ghost Rider!
Till next time