Tagline: They’re Closer Than You Think.
We remarked last week that it’s taken seven years for Alexander Payne to direct what is only his fifth feature, The Descendants. But that’s nothing compared to the 12 year wait the world has been forced to endure for the latest (re)incarnation of The Muppets (well done if you knew the last version was called Muppets From Space).
And the late Jim Henson wouldn’t have quibbled with the credentials of star Jason Segal (an unabashed Muppets fan since childhood, who co-wrote the movie with Nicholas Stoller), nor their old-school commitment in using puppets rather than CGI. And director James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords, Da Ali G Show) might be marking his cinematic debut but has a TV background which many adult Muppets fans have possibly seen and enjoyed.
Segal plays Gary, who also happens to be a die-hard fan who, upon learning that the Muppet Theater is set to be destroyed by an oil magnate (Chris Cooper) rounds up Kermit and the gang (as well as girlfriend Amy Adams) to save it, in no small part helped by a quite ludicrous list of cameos (Jack Black, Zach Galifianakis, Ricky Gervais and Emily Blunt, which is simply scratching the surface).
The goodwill for the project is palpable, and there’s a veritable love-in going on with the critics. The New York Times (“These are the same old, adorable Muppets, as sweetly innocent and likable as ever. Winking at itself, the movie is casually, amusingly self-reflexive”), Variety (“Effortlessly blending wised-up, self-reflexive humor with old-fashioned let’s-put-on-a-show pizzazz, The Muppets is an unexpected treat”) and Rolling Stone (“The movie slaps a smile on your face you won’t want to wipe off”) are but three raves in a (time of writing) perfect score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It would seem we’re not remotely done with the Muppets yet.