Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

The Muppets – 2011

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Re-boots are a common feature of contemporary Hollywood cinema. Reimagining past classics that are both proven performers and still maintain some relevance today is both fantastic for the fans and an easy way to make money. It was inevitable that when keeping up with this trend that the world’s most famous group of goofy puppets would re-emerge and once again, team up for another whacky, fun-filled adventure.

2011’s “The Muppets” is set in the present day where the Muppet name is no longer popular amongst the general population (contrary to the aforementioned description of a re-boot…). Each member has gone their separate way and have moved on from the old days of playing the music and lighting the lights. The theme of obsolescence is quite similar to that of “Toy Story 3” in many ways.

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We initially meet Walter, an everyday Muppet who isn’t an official member, rather, he is the Muppets’ biggest fan. He has an older brother Gary (Jason Segel) who is torn between loyalties at times between Walter and his girlfriend of 10 years, Mary (Amy Adams). After over hearing plans to purchase and proceed to dig for oil in the abandoned Muppet Studios from greedy oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), Walter, with help from Gary and Mary embarks on a mission to gather up the Muppets once again and raise enough money to save the studio before it’s too late. The theme of rescuing an old, rundown and sentimental building from a greedy tycoon is quite similar to that of “Dodgeball” in many ways.

Opening with the joyous strings and vocals of Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard”, the film is at times overly cheesy and childish. Sure, that’s the demographic that they’re appealing to primarily and that’s the way it should be. We don’t expect Kermit to pull out an AK47 and maliciously assassinate his foes, but we do appreciate some humour that everybody can enjoy. This is something that “Shrek” or “The Incredibles” does exceptionally well.

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The cast is star studded, as they always are for occasions such as this. Names like Jack Black, Dave Grohl, Selena Gomez, Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Jim Parsons, Sarah Silverman, Kristen Schaal and Emily Blunt join Segel, Adams, Cooper and of course the Muppets themselves in the celebrational, muppetational new adventure.

Introducing a standard, talentless protagonist who idolises those around him and ultimately finds himself saving the day seems strangely similar to Emmet from “The Lego Movie”, a standard, talentless protagonist who idolises those around him and ultimately finds himself saving the day. Although these two films have 3 years between them,it is apparent that the sympathetic underdog protagonist is an age-old stock character that has been seen time and time again.

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The musical numbers are passable, there’s nothing particularly special about them, and the cliche’s are numerous in amount which is disappointing. For a Muppet movie, this unfortunately would have to be one of the least enjoyable. This isn’t coming from an aged point of view where the enjoyability seemingly diminishes with getting older, films like “Muppets from Space” and “The Muppets take Manhattan” are timeless classics that will still be equally as funny now as they were 10 years ago. This one felt tacky and at times, a little boring.

Being successful enough for a sequel, “The Muppets” must have generated the money and publicity as it was inevitably going to do. There were sporadic laughs throughout and some entertaining Muppet-driven chaos, however it lacked the flair of previous Muppet adventures and didn’t have the essence of what it once was. Having said that, the trailers for “The Muppets: Most Wanted” do look quite entertaining; it could potentially save the franchise from crashing and burning.

2.5/5

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