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THE MUPPETS MOVIE

IT'S TIME TO MEET THE MUPPETS...

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By Jess Fenton
8th January 2012
“You guys just aren’t famous anymore.” Harsh but fair words from television executive Veronica Martin (Rashida Jones). They may have rung true not too long ago, but that’s all changed thanks to the long-awaited ‘The Muppets’ movie.

Actor and admitted puppet enthusiast Jason Segel ('How I Met Your Mother') has co-written the film with his ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ director Nicholas Stoller. Segel was entrusted with the mega-task of not only rebooting the franchise after a 12 year hiatus, but also introducing the Muppets to a new generation. After seeing the film, it's clear that he's managed to deliver on that promise, if not surpassing it.

This movie, clearly written by a life long fan, is for those of us like Segel who grew up with the Muppets - that fuzzy band of misfits defined the childhood for a lot of us. The one’s who can simply say Kermit without having to add “the frog” and whom the words “Wocka Wocka” send us into fits of laughter (not into fits of humming the Shakira song from the 2010 FIFA World Cup).

Segel plays Gary, who along with his brother Walter (Muppets newcomer) and long-suffering girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), head to LA for a holiday and much-anticipated visit to the illustrious Muppets Studio. There, they discover that the studio is to be bought and demolished by oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) unless the Muppets can come up with $10 million to save it. The trio head off in search of Kermit to reunite the gang and save their beloved studio the only way they know how... with a telethon.

SWITCH: THE MUPPETS GREEN CARPET

The self-referential nature of the film is where they get away with a lot of their gags, and introduce the audience's need for suspension of disbelief, such as traveling by map - cue the red line moving from the U.S. to Cannes, France finishing with the Rolls Royce driving out of the ocean. Sight gags, fart gags and even actual mouth gags all have their place on film among the many fantastic musical numbers. The soundtrack includes covers of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and a group of chickens singing (singing?) Cee Lo’s ‘Forget You’. Yes, even ‘Rainbow Connection’ makes an appearance. But it’s the film’s original numbers by Bret McKenzie ('Flight Of The Concords') that really get the toes tapping. ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ comes complete with a dance number that includes the townsfolk and a Mickey Rooney cameo to kick the film into gear. But the best of them is the emotional apex ‘Muppet or Man’, a duet between Gary and Walter along side their muppet/human counterparts.

The icon that are the Muppets is handled with charm, great affection and lots of laughs. Their frank and earnest acknowledgement of their place in the world and what they have to offer once again reminds audiences of what we loved so much about them in the first place and what we’ve been missing. A must-see for every child and every child in each of us.

NOTE: To everyone planning on seeing ‘The Muppets’ (and I highly recommend that you do) please arrive at your screening on time so as not to miss the hilarious ‘Toy Story’ Pixar short, screening just before the feature.

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