Hey FOOLS! To say that The Muppets was my most anticpated film of 2012 is an understatement, I became so obsessed with the film in a way that I probably hadn't in an extremely long time that people around me became scared for my well being. In actual fact I had become so excited that I was becoming concerned for myself too, I was actually worried that I might become inconsolable if the films didn't live up to my expectations. By now you've probably figured out that I am a huge Muppet fan and there's probably a million reviews going to be posted by other Muppet fans so I won't bore you with the Muppet story of my life. But you should know this, I am a massive fan. I have collectables but don't need to have every collectable, I have the DVD's of the shows and films. I even love The Muppet Babies cartoons. This love has also been passed on to my daughter and we watch YouTube clips of her favourite songs each afternoon. The stakes were really high for me so disappointment might be devastating for a fan like me.
I'll put you out of your misery early on. This is everything you could have hoped for from a Muppet movie and more. Remember that espisode of The Simpsons where Bart and his friends get a fake I.D. and drive across America? There's one scene where Nelson makes them drive to watch Andy Williams in concert. The look on Nelson's face is a mixture of sheer joy, bottled excitement and wonder and if you could have seen me during the film it would be the perfect reflection of how I sat during this film. From the first song till the end credits I sat smiling like the biggest goofball, laughed uninhibited and even got a little teary. It truly was a joy to watch. People who know me will think that I am probably the most biased person to send to a Muppet movie, it'd be like sending Prester John to an Iron Man film, but I need everyone to understand that the day of the film I began to prepare myself for the worst because it would be easier to handle if it ended like that. I honestly believe that because of this I enjoyed the film even more though deep down I really was expecting something good. I just didn't expect it to be this good.
It could be so easy to go into a rant that tells every great moment of the film, spoiling cameos and plot but I hate it when people do that. So here's is a very brief outline of the plot for. The worlds biggest Muppet fan, Walter, heads to LA to visit The Muppets Studios, whilst on a tour he overhears a plan by an oil tycoon to buy the studios pretending he will build a Muppet Museum when in reality he plans to destroy the studio and drill for oil. Walter is so outraged he tracks down Kermit and they decide to get The Muppets back together for one show to try raise $10 Million and save the studios. Obviously there is a lot more to the story but that's all you need to know before seeing the film.
I remember when Forgetting Sarah Marshall was released there was an interview with Jason Segel and his getting to work with the Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Segel was in awe of the fact that this was something Jim Henson had built. Not long after that word began to filter through that Segel had discussed with the Henson folk the possibility of a new Muppet movie and from that moment on I knew that if anyone was going to treat my beloved Muppets with the respect they deserve it would be Segel. Ultimately I knew that as long as Segel was involved this would not be a bastardized Muppet movie and that's exactly what you get. Both Segel and Nicholas Stoller, director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, have managed to write a film that knows what makes The Muppets so special. They haven't tried to put a new flavour into The Muppets because they don't need a new flavour, people still love them and this is what the film ultimately is about. As The Muppets are trying to shop their telethon around to TV studios everyone believes that people have forgotten about The Muppets. When The Muppets get a chance to perform people start to remember what it was about The Muppets they love. A few months ago I was showing some of my family some Kermit and Fozzie plush toys I bought my daughter. The kids were 8 and 5 and had no idea who both Kermit the Frog or Fozzie Bear was and I was devastated. I couldn't believe that we live in a time where kids didn't know who The Muppets were. That's about to change with this film.
When I think about Muppet movies as a Muppet fan there are three key components I want the film to contain. The film has to have great songs, lots of laughs and the all important star cameos. The Muppets contains all of these elements and as I've mentioned before I really don't want to spoil special moments of the films so in some cases I won't go into too much detail because they were even more special for not being spoilt but I will give a little taste, a teaser if you will for each element.
Growing up with The Muppets it was always the songs that made the films/shows. The Rainbow Connection is a timeless song that was in fact nominated for an Academy Award but there are other great songs like Movin' Right Along, Together Again, and Right Where We Belong so The Muppets had a lot to live up to. The decision the film makers made regarding the music is possibly their best. They hired Bret McKenzie to write the songs, who is Bret McKenzie? He is one half of New Zealand's comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. Having McKenzie write the songs provides a real humour as well as the catchiness that Muppet songs require. There is so much faith in the songs that the film begins with 'Life's A Happy Song' a purely about being happy and performed in a big show tune style number. It's a perfect start to the film. There are other great songs that really show the sort of quirkiness that you'd expect from Flight of the Conchords. Chris Cooper performs a rap song explaining how bad he is, Amy Adams performs a hilarious song about being on her own and my favourite was Jason Segel and Walter singing 'Man or Muppet'. It's one of the highlights of the film and features one of the best cameos in the film as well.
Something I've always loved about The Muppets is the fact that they never had to dip into very low brow humour. They may have ventured into corny territory but never did they require burp, fart or innuendo filled jokes as you'd expect from other family popular franchises like Shrek for example. One of the risks of making a Muppets film is that these days young audiences expect these types of jokes and there is the temptation to aim The Muppets towards this audience. Thankfully the writers avoid this, the closest to a fart joke is the Fozzie Bear fart shoes scene you see in the trailer but really it's not a fart joke per se it's more of another bad Fozzie Bear joke and the film works all the more for avoiding the types of jokes. It really is humour just like you would expect from old Muppet movies and it still works. I haven't laughed so hard in a movie in quite a long time and the humour is because of the writing from Segel and Stoller, the music from McKenzie, the direction from James Bobin (who also worked on Flight of the Conchords) and the cast who really do a great job of not being overly corny as there is the potential for things to move down that road. There are just simple jokes that work so well like Chris Cooper speaking the words Maniacal Laugh over and over again instead of laughing maniacally. It was extremely funny.
Finally the cameos. Everything Muppet whether film or TV show needs cameos and it doesn't matter what era stars will want to be a part of a Muppet film. This film was no different with plenty of names thrown about as potential cameos. Now if you really want to know a list of cameos within the film I'm sure you can go online and find a list but please try to avoid finding them out because they are so much better when unspoilt. As mentioned earlier one of the best cameos appear during the song 'Man or Muppet' which I will not spoil but I will give you one cameo which was a blink and you'll miss it cameo. There is a scene where Fozzie is working at a run down casino in Reno performing with a Muppet tribute band called The Moopets. All members of the band are in puppet form looking like rough versions of The Muppets except for the drummer. The drummer is Mr. Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame dressed in a leather vest, with collar and chain and pink and orange wig to be Animal. It cracked me up and I don't think many people in the cinema picked it. It was subtle cameos like this that really made the film special.
If you haven't guessed from the sheer size of my review I am completely in love with this film. Sadly for Australian readers you'll have to wait until 12 January 2012 to see the film. But the wait is so worth it, not to rub it in but I think I'll try and catch another preview screening before the film is released because I honestly can't wait to see it again. This is my favourite film of 2011 and I want to say a huge thank you to Jason Segel and co for making it happen. It is everything a Muppet fan could want and I thoroughly recommend fans and non fans to catch when it is released.