It's time to play the music, It's time to light the lights...
Unless you've been hiding in a cave for the past few months, you will be aware that the Muppets are well and truly back (and if you have been living in a cave for the last few months, why is your first port of Internet call the Christianity blog?). The movie has got great reviews and box office numbers from a marketing campaign that saw them pop up everywhere - literally. At times it felt dangerously close to having Gonzo fired into my living room demanding I buy tickets to the film.
The thing is, behind the bombast is one of the funniest yet sweetest movies I've seen in a long time. Apparently the best way to get hits on a blog is with a list, so here are five reasons why it's the most enjoyable film around...
1) It's fun. The film is relentless in firing gags at the viewer, taking on cultural icons, every film made in the last 15 years, and the dismal nature of more recent offerings. It isn't purely satirical; in fact, it's primarily a kids' film, and while some gags may fly over younger ones' heads, there are enough singing chickens, adults hit with bowling balls and Muppets to entertain all ages.
2) It's fun. Beneath the veiled sneer at just about everything else happening on the planet lies an unashamedly optimistic piece of cinema - one that revels in joy, redemption, hope and good old-fashioned fun. Yes, it's easy to be cynical, but isn't it better to look at life with a smile?
3) It's fun. The Muppets have a long history of entertaining the masses, and they used the same old formula in the second half that they have their entire career (show goes wrong, funny song, someone gets injured in a hilarious manner). They're not ashamed of their past; instead, they recognise it.
4) It's got songs in it. The Muppets have got a grand musical history, from the opening theme through 'Mahna Mahna' and 'Rainbow Connection'. They strike gold in the film by putting these alongside the talents of Bret McKenzie as musical director (better known as the beardy one from Flight of the Conchords) whose gift of musical hilarity punctuates the film on a regular basis.
5) It's Clever. The film even alludes to the fact that this comeback is out of nowhere by making the film centre around the Muppets staging a comeback. A comeback film about a comeback show - it's what the clever sitcoms do these days just before they get cancelled because only seven people are watching. What this film does is cram in enough visual gags and celebrity cameos to allow its self-referential nature to fade into the background. And it is brilliant.
And what does it tell the Church? Should we recognise our past a bit more? Adhere to what has worked before while updating it for the 21st century? Should we be more optimistic in the face of relentless pessimism?
We could. Or perhaps we should just enjoy this film without seeking to squeeze some kind of biblical message/challenge to the Church out of every piece of culture. Because ultimately, that's what the film is about - enjoying life a little bit more.