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Chris Cooper
Jason Segel
Amy Adams
Chris Cooper
Rashida Jones.
James Bobin.
Jason Segel
Nick Stoller.
Running Time
110 minutes

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The Muppets
Mahna mahna (do doo be do-do)

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Gary (Jason Segel) is the Muppets' biggest fan. On a trip to Hollywood to visit his heroes' studio home, he learns of a plot to destroy the Muppet Theatre and drill the land for oil. The only way he can save the day is to find the disbanded Muppets and get them back together for a benefit gig.

The Muppets
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It’s not really true that the Muppets have been absent for a long time. Their last cinema appearance, the forgettable Muppets From Space, may be over a decade ago, but they’ve been bobbling about in the odd TV movie since, the last being 2008’s Letters To Santa. So strictly speaking they’ve only been off screens for four years. But it feels like they’ve been existing outside everyone’s attention for much longer, and if Batman and Spider-Man can have reboots, why can’t the Muppets? Particularly if they’re going to be as nutty and fun as this.

The Muppets (the simple title being a rather elegant wiping clean of the slate) pretends that most of the past few decades’ output never happened and that the band of felt animals, vegetables and indescribables went their separate ways when their fame dwindled. They’d never intended to see each other again, until their number one fan, a fellow fuzzy fellow named Walter, learns of a plot to destroy the hallowed Muppet Theatre to get at the oil beneath it, which can only be stopped if the gang get back together to put on a fundraising show and buy back their home.

As plots go, it’s almost as old as ‘one day a boy met a girl and they overcame an obstacle of some sort’, but it’s just a foil for a reunion. And it’s when the band starts reforming that something becomes clear: the Muppets may not have been away, but it’s a long time since we’ve seen them being funny in the way they were in the days of Jim Henson’s original show. The films that followed Henson’s death, even the terrific Muppet Christmas Carol, tacked the group’s oddities onto an existing story; Muppets From Space misfired by putting them on a galaxy-wide canvas. The Muppets are diluted by giving them anything beyond the most basic of narratives. Give them as little plot as possible and you leave ample room for them just to be weird at each other — karate chopping, blowing themselves up and inventing ‘fart shoes’. They are creatures of chaos, not order.

Jason Segel, who stars as Walter’s brother Gary and co-writes with Nicholas Stoller (Get Him To The Greek) understands this completely and has nailed the right tone. There’s no side to the Muppets and they’re never too knowing. There could easily have been gags about the oddity of Walter and Gary being brothers but it’s just accepted, in the same way as the entire cast will frequently burst into song (most benefiting greatly from the writing of Flight Of The Conchords’ Bret McKenzie). The Muppets don’t do cynicism; they do joyful surreality that causes everyone to wave their arms as wildly as their puppeteer’s reach will allow.

Under Segel and Stoller’s control, as well as that of director James Bobin (also a Conchords vet), the Muppets are back to being guilelessly useless. They try constantly and believe they are genuinely talented performers putting on an impressive show. In fact, their only skill is the ability to fail charmingly. Fozzy’s not funny; Gonzo consistently fluffs his magic tricks; even Kermit, the most together of the bunch, sings like he’s swallowing an orange whole. When Walter gets his shining moment it’s with an act that would usually be an opportunity for the audience to nip to the loo. They’ve no idea they’re rubbish, which is what’s so lovely.

On the celebrity cameo front, there’s a bit of a feeling of ‘will this do?’. The Muppet Show used to score by putting big-name stars in a rickety variety show they’d otherwise avoid like direct overhead lighting. The new movie couldn’t scrabble much in the way of A-list talent (excepting the brief but amusing work by Emily Blunt as Piggy’s assistant, in a wry echo of her Devil Wears Prada break-out). Jack Black, of all people, is paraded as the pinnacle of glittering celebrity, even though he’s now probably available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and the opening of fêtes in reasonably large villages. Some of the cameos are fun (Kristen Schaal and Jim Parsons stand out) but the film builds expectation that someone huge is going to crop up as a final punchline. They never do. However, the success of the film doesn’t rest on mere humans. Segel, Amy Adams and Chris Cooper are all delightful as the only significant non-puppets, but they’re, in the nicest possible way, background. Though there are some periods here where scenes lose their way or don’t hit the right note, it was ever thus with the skit-based style of The Muppets. When everyone’s playing the same tune, albeit in their own discordant way, this is boundlessly cheering and, in the way it has recaptured the spirit of Jim Henson’s early days, peculiarly moving.

Made absolutely for grown-up fans, this is the Muppets as you fondly remember them: funny, smart and gleefully insane. Kermit, it’s great to have you back.

Reviewed by Olly Richards

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Average user rating for The Muppets
Empire Star Rating

RE: The Muppets Review

As the 84th Academy Awards came to an end last Sunday, there were certainly faults with the festival, such as great films like Drive and We Need to Talk About Kevin were hugely ignored. On the positive front, Bret McKenzie walked away with the Best Original Song Award for his humorous and moving song "Man or Muppet". However, months prior to its well-deserved win, there was a debate about would the return of the Muppets be a sensation for audiences of all ages. These guys have been around for o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 18:00, 12 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Wonderful!

I wanted to leave after the first 20 minutes and wish I had. ... More

Posted by moehat at 01:00, 09 April 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Wonderful!

I enjoyed this but at times was just too overly sentimental. Nit picking, I know ! ... More

Posted by Dirk Miggler at 19:51, 13 March 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Wonderful!

L: Timon Chris Cooper rapping was wonderful. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Only complaint was that it needed more Beaker ,but his rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit was awesome. Brilliant. sp; Agree. Best moment in the movie and any funny film in the past year along with the singing chickens!   Barber Shop Quartet: "Here we are now entertainers"   Beaker: Me me me mee!   k= e=related... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cruisecontroller at 16:52, 13 March 2012 | Report This Post

The Muppets Review

Having only seen two Muppet movies prior to this I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. It does suffer some terrible use of CGI and it is 20 minutes too long. These faults aside, this movie was fantastic. A basic narrative driven by Kermit, Miss Piggy and the newly introduced character of Walter help push the Muppets back into the hearts and minds of audiences throughout the world. My prediction still stands, keep your eyes open for another Muppet movie or the return of The... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DaleLawson at 14:31, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post

A Muppets film the way we see The Muppets as we love them: in a nice little predictable story with lots of humor, great songs and cool cameos. It was such a joy to see all of them up there on the big screen. I thouroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. You really have to be a sourpuss to not leave the multiplex with the a smile from ear to ear. /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 23:18, 23 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Decent flick- quite funny and nice to see the little puppet things back.

There's no doubt whatsoever that Jason Segel's involvement has led to a Muppets film that is lovingly created and fully understands why they're endearing to so many people over many years. That said; that alone cannot constitute a flawless piece. The film may be called petsn reality it should be called /i]. Now don't get me wrong; Walter is perfectly fine. His brother Gary, played by the aforementioned Segel is also perfectly fine. Gary's other half Mary played by Amy Adams is rather wonderful ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 14:26, 22 February 2012 | Report This Post

Decent flick- quite funny and nice to see the little puppet things back.

The muppets started off around the early 70's and have etched themselves in my brain and my heart ever since- the muppets always had a way of appealing to the young kid inside of me aswell as the mature film goer I become when I shove on a really serious movie, the truth is the muppets haven't had a good film since 1992 with the muppet christmas carol- Jim Henson the most famous 'muppeteer' and creator of the muppets had previously worked on Sesame Street in 1969 before he thought that instead o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewisb548 at 20:19, 21 February 2012 | Report This Post

Good Times

I saw the film a few hours ago and agree that it is fun and worth watching. It's not perfect - I think that there were many obvious jokes, a REALLY slow start, some questionable musical numbers ("Me Party") and perhaps an over-reliance on "Quick Fixes" (montages, travel by map) - but on the whole, this was a worthy addition. The parts with Jack Black were particularly funny, as well as the "Man or Muppet" number, and there are great performances from the suppor... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GrandmasterT at 17:22, 21 February 2012 | Report This Post

good fun

(By the way Empire it is WALTER not Gary that is "the Muppets biggest fan") Nostalgic, witty and not just for kids. Entertaining stuff... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 21:38, 19 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: why, why, why, why???

This was awesome.  Went to see it with Mrs. Ace and her nephews, who are 10 and 7.  We all loved it. It doesn't quite hit the full 5 stars though. Going to say 4 out of 5. At the end, youngest nephew says "Are Muppets real?!" Half way through  me answering "of course", Mrs. Ace bluntly interjects "No.  They're puppets luv.  Put your coat on".  Talk about Buzz Kill. ... More

Posted by Invader_Ace at 16:05, 17 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: why, why, why, why???

Went to see this with a cinema-full of families on half-term holidays. Have to say I really enjoyed it, but it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. The biggest disappointment for me was Kermit the Frog! Why does he have to be so damn depressed all the time?! I remember him from my childhood as this really upbeat, sometimes insane wild frog who runs around with such glee to get everything going and make sure everyone is at their best. For some reason, he's turned into a downbeat, glum c... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 00:22, 17 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: why, why, why, why???

absolutely loved it, my nostalgia for it combined well with a fun story putting the muppets to the fore and including some fantastic songs and laugh out loud music ... More

Posted by John_P at 18:44, 16 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: why, why, why, why???

L: NCC1701A 5/5 Really enjoyed this a lot and love the Muppet ep that song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the year.. ... More

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 11:40, 16 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: why, why, why, why???

5/5   Really enjoyed this a lot and love the Man or Muppet song.     ... More

Posted by NCC1701A at 11:20, 16 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: why, why, why, why???

L: narmour L: jordan thomas this is no better than alvin and the chipmunks movies, the muppets where never funny i think the people who like them are on crack Well go fetch me my crack pipe then, I'm going in... sp; Pass that pipe along there buddy! Muppets rule. ... More

Posted by Discodez at 10:14, 16 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: why, why, why, why???

L: jordan thomas this is no better than alvin and the chipmunks movies, the muppets where never funny i think the people who like them are on crack sp; Well go fetch me my crack pipe then, I'm going in... ... More

Posted by narmour at 09:52, 16 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: The Muppets Review

I liked it, /b] but I wanted it to be better. After all the hype I expected a five star film (I got a three and a half star movie.), still that's pretty good and Amy was cute eel good, some nice song and dance numbers, some decent comedy. One for the collection. ... More

Posted by S. C. Lee at 00:12, 16 February 2012 | Report This Post

The Muppets Review

Clever, charming, and heartfelt, The Muppets is a welcome big screen return for Jim Henson's lovable creations that will both win new fans and delight longtime devotees. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 22:57, 14 February 2012 | Report This Post

Good Effort

petsod but lacked some of the mayhem and anarchy that made people love the Muppets first time round. Thus there are some good little laughs but overall the film just isn't quite funny enough. It doesn't help that if you have seen the trailer a few times you can anticipate many of the punchlines. Most of Bret McKenzie's songs are a joy though. The tone felt a little too reverent and spent too much time tugging on the heart strings – although at one point it does this very well indeed - i... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JediBobster at 16:07, 14 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Wonderful!

This was pure joy!!! Chickens - Forget You was one of the funniest things ever ... More

Posted by musht at 14:19, 14 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Wonderful!

]e is a young boy, Gary gains a younger brother called Walter, who is a muppet.  Increasingly finding himself an outsider, Walter finds solace in pet Show nbsp; As adults, Gary plans a vacation to Los Angeles with his girlfriend Mary to celebrate their tenth anniversary, and he invites Walter along so he can tour the Muppet Theatre, though Mary feels that Gary's devotion to Walter detracts from their relationship.  In Los Angeles, the three visit the Muppet Theater to find it d... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 10:51, 14 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Wonderful!

This is a truly wonderful film, very funny and does not take itself seriously at all. The song and dance routines during the first half were a little weird at first but absolutely worked overall. By the time it got to the Muppet show itself, I felt like a child again, enjoying the TV show on a Saturday night. It felt absolutely pitch perfect. The children in the cinema were enjoying it, but not as much as their parents he spirit of Jim Henson is alive and well ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by beancounter at 10:23, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Wonderful!

Chris Cooper rapping was wonderful. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Only complaint was that it needed more Beaker ,but his rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit was awesome. Brilliant. ... More

Posted by Timon at 09:36, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Wonderful!

Pure cinematic joy. It's been too long since the Muppets have starred in thier own movie rather than gatecrashing other stories. I feel a little sad for anyone who doesn't enjoy this movie........could have lived without the Chris Cooper rap though.... ... More

Posted by blackduck at 09:29, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post

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