What did I know about the Muppets prior to yesterday’s screening of The Muppets movie? Um – well, this is awkward – I knew nothing. Okay, not strictly true. I knew that there was a frog, and a thing called Miss Piggy. That was it: the sum of my own muppet-ness. I knew nothing.
So I wasn’t exactly first-in-line to see the new film. I read, with a disapproving scowl, the synopsis of the film on-line. Oh, the ol’ Muppets studio is facing being shut down by an evil Texan oil baron? The old gang will have to put their differences aside and re-band so as to raise $10 million and save the day? Yikes! I wonder how it could end…?
I promised myself that I would gloss over the fact that the lead characters were talking puppets that America had accepted as normal members of society (albeit former celebrity members of society, nonetheless). But are we really not meant to question why puppet protagonist Walter lives with a human family, or why Miss Piggy works for Vogue as a plus-size editor? Nor do we know why Kermit still has Christmas cards on display in his L.A. mansion. And I won’t even mention the fact that the evil oil baron’s associates were a bear and a dragon…
But the magic of the Muppet puppets, it turns out, lies in the humour. The subtle jokes would skim straight over the heads of most of the U-targeted audience, but adults in the audience were cackling along throughout (my personal highlight was the appearance of rough-as porcine drag queen Miss Puggy, a parody of Miss Piggy). The funny moments were underpinned with emotional bits, too. Happily all the characters always made the right choice throughout, despite initial moments of peril. And Walter even managed to pluck up the courage to join the gang on-stage with his whistling solo, raising the additional $200,000 needed to boost the total up to $10 million. Yes, really. Towards the end of the film, you don’t care about the saccharine elements and are instead rooting for the characters to triumph (which, of course, they do. How could they not?)
Celeb cameos came thick and fast. Jason Segel (who also co-wrote the film) starred as Walter’s big brother Gary; Amy Adams as Gary’s girlfriend. Selena Gomez, Rashida Jones and Emily Blunt (in a Devil Wears Prada-esque spoof at the French Vogue offices) also made appearances, as did Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Silverman, John Krasinski, Zach Galifianakis, Dave Grohl… The list is endless. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
So, was I converted? Do I now ‘get’ the Muppets? In the style of the ending of the film, this answer should tell you everything you need to know: mananana…
In cinemas now.