Tuesday, December 06, 2011

THE MUPPETS - Likable Treat for the Kids

THE MUPPETS (puppet and live action comedy)
Cast: Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the other Muppets
Director: James Bobin
Screenplay: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: The Muppets has everything I would expect from a movie about the Muppets (a 'hybrid' of marionettes and puppets). Like the 1979 The Muppet Movie, it has the same self-effacing and self-deprecating humour; celebrity cameos making fun of themselves, and the cast unabashedly breaking into songs aimed at both kids and adults.

Personally, I sorely felt one thing missing as I watched the show at the media screening last week: my grand-daughter Sophy! The film is better enjoyed with a young child.

Amy Adams, Jason Segel and Walter meeting Rowlf the Dog

SYNOPSIS (as provided by Disney Studios): On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan, and his friends Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze the Muppet Theatre and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets' former stomping grounds.

To stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the US$10 million needed to save the theatre, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate.

Chris Cooper plays the villain Tex Richman

HITS & MISSES: One reason for the movie's success is the role played by Segel both in front and behind the camera. An avid fan of the Muppets, Segel co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Stoller, the guy who directed him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I wouldn't say the script is original (the plot is even similar to that of The Muppet Movie) but it has the little touches that make a lot of difference, especially to the grown-up fans of the TV series created by Jim Henson. One of the little touches is the addition of Walter - a rather 'ornery' suburban Muppet but one whom many children and fans can relate to.

Besides the main story, there are two romantic subplots: a rekindling of an estranged relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy, and the courtship of Gary and Mary which hits the rocks when he forgets their anniversary. Heading the celebrity guest cast is Jack Black whom we 'meet' at an anger management group. He is later kidnapped to help in the Telethon. Emily Blunt lights up the screen as Miss Piggy's secretary and Zach Galifianakis plays a hobo. Others who also show up are James Carville, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez and Neil Patrick Harris.

THE LOWDOWN: Another engaging treat for the kids.


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