There are, every now and then, experiences that are a sheer delight to partake in. With the glut of films released every week, it's hard to stand out from the crowd let alone induce ear-to-ear, jaw bone-aching grins. It would seem the answer to achieve this is simple... just add Muppet's!
But they need to be added in the style that made them famous - the TV show that felt unscripted and out of control - and not the slightly shoe-horned versions where they were thrown in amongst well-known and well-trodden literal greats (the brilliant Muppet Christmas Carol being the exception.)
Co-screenwriter and longtime Muppet fan Segel (see his vampire opera in Forgetting Sarah Marshall for proof), along with Stroller have clocked onto this and in a genius move, tackled the sad-but-true fact that the Muppet's have dropped off the public radar in recent years. Here, like a once-famous band that get together for one more tour, the gang get back together again after going their separate ways and losing contact with one another. Cue wonderful awkward songs of reflection, musical montages and a very Muppet version of the Indiana Jones "travel by map" method of transport.
All this is instigated by Segel and his brother, who also just happens to be a Muppet but, delightfully no one seems to question or comment on this fact. From their growing up together (the heights of both brothers marked on the door frame sequence) through to his ever-so-long relationship with the brilliantly cast Adams as his girlfriend (check out the confused face of Walter the Muppet's prom date in the photo of them altogether) it all seems natural but zanily so. And that's the essence of what makes it work so well - the bursting into songs where some lyrics seem not completed; the solemn low-point where all seems lost is accompanied by the sounds of Fozzie's Fart Shoes (patent pending!); the oh-so-wrong but oh-so-catchy and laugh-out-loud Camilla the Chicken's rendition of "Forget You" - they all make no sense but feel so genuine and funny that you don't care.
The one thing that lets it down is the lack of "nudge the person next to you and point" guest stars. Their TV show attracted all from the great to the iconic and nostalgically speaking, you'd expect them to be able to do the same. Maybe however that's been done deliberately to reinforce the point that the Muppet's are having to build up their popularity again from the beginning but it still feels wrong that they don't have any jaw-dropping stars throwing themselves into Gonzo's cannon for comedic fodder. Their "highlight" is Jack Black but it's the lesser stars that make more memorable appearances, the standout being Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons as Walter the Muppet's human alter-ego in the destined to be a karaoke classic "Man or Muppet."
Made for people who are able to look back at the Muppets rather than those who are being introduced to them and their insane ways first time round, this is a beautifully scripted and genuinely funny love letter to the group of misfits that, no matter how bad things got, banded together and never saw the bad in anyone - the world needs more Muppets! And a sequel, fast!
UK release date: 10.02.12