Friday 6 April 2012

The Muppets Movie - Review

At least the poster looks good...

Remakes are one thing, but ‘nostalgia movies’ are an entirely different genre. The Simpsons, The Addams Family and American Pie have had their own attempts at rebooting their franchises or instilling an old set of characters into a young audience. Late last Christmas, Jim Henson’s most famous creation joined the ranks of franchise sell-outs the world over in Disney’s The Muppets Movie.

I’ve seen a number of Muppets films and never have I been more disappointed with such a memorable group of characters then I was with this film.

It must be admitted that the movie did yield some excellent gags, but the key issue with the film’s humour was its attempt to entertain an older audience. Cameos from Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris and The Office star John Krasinski all hinted at this but the real nose-clipper was the nature of the hilarity. It simply tried too hard. The film’s ‘campy’ theme wore out its welcome after the first few allusions and when the actors (particularly Jason Segal) broke the fourth wall it seemed lazy and predictable. Irritatingly, the disappointing screenplay failed to even bring humour to the Muppets themselves. True, there were more enjoyable moments with them than anyone else on screen, but the original charm and deviancy of the Muppets had been lost amidst a sea of reminiscence by the filmmakers. There wasn’t a huge focus on plot, cinematography or dialogue, only the characters.

The musical elements of the film disappointed me also. Although I usually enjoy musicals, the songs in this picture really just felt unnecessary and clichéd. Disney managed to spit out at least ten songs a film almost every year from 1937 till now and every one of them is unique and original. But with The Muppets Movie, there was an emotional song, a profound ballad, a cheery opening number, and a heart-warming finale: the usual bunch.
As mentioned, the lack of charm in the film was not only disappointing, but a direct result of the movie being for kids. Studios don’t take risks any more with children’s movies because it doesn’t always yield the best financial performance. It’s sad really, how so much of broad cinema these days is mostly just based around numbers and statistics. Instead of art, that is.

The Bottom Line: Overall a disappointing endeavour, boasting mostly mediocrity and near-misses. Although sometimes funny and beguiling, Miss Piggy just doesn’t bring home the bacon this time.


- Mr Critter

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