The Muppets (2011) – 5/5 stars

When news came about that a group of fuzzy felt puppets were going to be brought back onto the big screen, eyebrows were raised.  But now, it’s time to play the music, it’s time to dim the lights…and well, you should know the rest.

After twelve years since Muppet Treasure IslandThe Muppets can only be seen a leap of faith for both Disney and How I Met your Mother’s Jason Segel, who is an avid Muppets fan and serves as the film’s co-writer as well as protagonist.  The cutesy tale of Segel’s Gary, his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) and his…umm, brother Walter (who is, coincidentally, a Muppet) join forces with the old gang to save the now abandoned Muppet Theatre from greedy oil baron Tex Richman, played by the surprisingly funny Chris Cooper.

First of all, there is a slight problem.  Kids nowadays won’t know the Muppets.  It’s a sad and true fact.  They’re all about Shrek, Toy Story, Dora the Explorer….or worse, the Wiggles.  In other words, you have a group of all-singing, all-dancing puppets in competition with a load of pixels.  Or four Australian guys in bright jumpers.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against with the odd CGI animated flick (God knows there are enough of them), but what’s wrong with going old-skool?

Jason Segel has blended family-friendly humour and a feel good factor that only really appears in old-fashioned musicals. He, along with the infectiously bubbly Amy Adams, look right at home, belting the occasional tune and busting a move old Hollywood-style.  Chris Cooper proves that by using an elaborate rap song can be funny, rather than cringeworthy, and established kinda-funny man Jack Black doesn’t have a lot to do, besides be at the Muppets’ mercy.

Of course, the film belongs to the Muppets.  From firm favourites Kermit, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo (and personal favourite, Animal), to newbie Walter, it’s hard not to enjoy their company for 110 minutes.  Seeing them strut their stuff on the screen makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Sure, there are jokes poking how times have changed since The Muppet Show was on television, but the songs are big musical numbers – whether it’s the Barbershop quartet’s rendition of Smell like Teen Spirit or even the brilliant Man or Muppet? (which became a perhaps unintentionally hilarious, yet personal highlight in the film), you find yourself either bopping your head, laughing out loud or singing along.  Or perhaps all three.

This will probably be 2012’s most entertaining film for all ages – it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old.  The Muppets is a sugar-coated treat that you can enjoy again and again.  You think the Muppets are past it?  This film (and the current figure of $101 million earned at the box office) says you’re wrong.

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