It’s time to make the music! It’s time to light the lights…
Back in the dark ages, when Channel 4 hadn’t launched and there were 3 channels on TV (something my kids find hard to believe), I was a fan of The Muppet Show. Silly gags, talking frogs, Piiiiigs Iiiiiiiin Spaaaaaaaaaaace! The Swedish Chef, Prof Honeydew, the lot. Jim Henson’s team plus random celebrity ‘guest’ (treated in much the same way as Eric & Ernie treated theirs) brought half an hour of unadulterated joy into everyone’s homes.
Fast forward to the 90s and the reboot – Muppets Tonight… still funny, still genius.
Then there’s the movies. After Christmas Carol I think they kinda lost their way. My kids love Treasure Island and From Space but I can take or leave them. This new one, though. What to make of it?
For a start, it’s hard to find a movie you can take kids whose ages range from 4 to 12 to. Okay, so I cheated a little. I did take 5 kids to this one, but my youngest is way to small to sit through a movie so I traded for one of Thing1’s friends. You can take anyone to this movie. Anyone. Your granny’ll enjoy it, your mum and dad will enjoy it. It’s a proper family movie in the very best tradition of Muppet movies.
From the bad guy’s inability to laugh (uttering “Maniacal laugh!” when required to do so) to the numerous nods to knowing they’re in a movie (“Wow! That was a really expensive-looking explosion! I can’t believe we had the budget for that!” or words to that effect. Thanks, Fozzie), to the hench-Muppets figuring out they’re working for the bad guy. Brilliant. All the old Muppet favourites are in there and a couple of new ones. My favourite new Muppet, Eighties Robot, has some excellent lines.
The plot is standard Muppet movie plot #1. We’ve got x hours to raise y amount of money otherwise we lose the theatre. Simple. Does it need to be more complicated? No! It’s a Muppet movie! You came for Muppets, celebrity cameos (of which there are many and I challenge you to spot all of them) and songs!
The songs in this movie won an Oscar. The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, on BBC Radio 2, championed the wonderful “Man or Muppet” number (Celebrity cameo from The Big Bang Theory, and boy does Sheldon look confused!). They’re certainly catch enough to stick in your brain for long after the movie finishes.
Jack Black proves he has a wonderful sense of humour, Whoopie Goldberg makes a return appearance, Mickey Rooney is in there (blink and you’ll miss him). It’s brilliant.
So. Do they get the gang back together? Do they save the theatre? Of course they do, on both counts. It wouldn’t be a Muppet movie without a last-minute Gonzo-ex-machina to pull it all together.
Should you go see it? Hell, yes! If you’ve no kids, get a huge bunch of friends and have a Muppet Spectacular Party. If you’ve kids, take them to it again and again and again. Ah, given that I’m writing this after seeing it here at the Garrison Theatre, whose speciality is “what’s on DVD next week? Oh, let’s show that”, you’ve probably all seen it already. But if you haven’t, you’ve missed a treat.
Days after seeing it, this movie is still making me laugh. Can’t wait for the DVD.