Actors: Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper
Voiceovers: Peter Linz, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz
Director: James Bobin
Rating: ****(4 Out of 5)
Hollywood is often accused of pumping big money to revive lost franchisees, just so they could make more money. Most of the times, the result is unbearable. Occasionally, you do encounter a film like “The Muppets” that falls in that category, yet is funny, poignant and well intentioned enough to actually make people want to root for it.
After a muppet, Walter (Peter Linz), fan of defunct “The Muppets” show, discovers a plot by an evil oil baron to destroy the muppet museum and dig for oil, he urges Kermit, the head muppet of the show to do a TV show to raise money.
The two, helped by Walter’s human brother Gary (Jason Segel) and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) gather the scattered Muppets to put on a show.
Often it is tough for a director to make the audience feel for actors. To be able to make them feel the anguish and pain of inanimate characters, hand-puppets to be precise, is thus a tougher job. Yet, this is exactly the miracle that director James Bobin and his writers have managed to pull off.
Secondly, to get humanly expression from puppets that are moved with hands is a tough job. The film not only manages this but is also able to give its puppet characters facial expressions of depression, hurt, anger etc., which makes for fascinating viewing for ventriloquists and those aware of what it takes to do that.
The film is full of flaws, the most obvious being that of the camera’s inability to show the muppet characters from head to toe. Yet, good writing and direction ensures that you don’t even notice them as this underdog story makes you root for your characters to do the impossible.
Caught up in logic, most films, even those steeped in fantasy, are often unable to transcend the limit they set for themselves. “The Muppets” has no such problems as it becomes extremely imaginative, delightful, quirky and fun.
The cheekiness of the characters, like when the evil oil baron prods his henchmen to give a ‘maniacal laugh’, actually makes the audience laugh. And when to save time the characters ‘travel by map’, once even crossing the Atlantic ocean to emerge on a French beach, viewers derive imaginative amusement.
It also plays the real characters and puppets extremely well. Nowhere does the distinction between man and muppet becomes visible, adding to the believability and fun of the film.
And best of all, it has got a heart that beats for childhood memories, for innocence and for a sense of preserving our glorious past. That itself makes it a worthwhile watch.
That it also tells the story of underdogs who take on an evil, powerful man and win hearts by making everyone laugh in the end, is the icing on this magnificently ‘muppetful’ cake.