The Muppets is an absolute treasure, both as a tribute to devoted fans and for kids today, who likely haven’t even heard of them until now. In a Hollywood practically driven by crass consumerism and gimmicks, The Muppets never feels like such for an instant. This one is from the heart, and a re-emergence in popularity seems inevitable. With characters as beloved as Kermit and the gang, this had to be done right. And it is.
Gary (Segel), along with his Muppet-looking brother, Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), have been Muppets fans for their entire lives. It’s long been a dream of Gary and Walter’s to visit the Muppets studios in Los Angeles. They’ll finally get their chance when Gary decides to take his longtime girlfriend, Mary (Adams), out there for their anniversary. What they discover is a run-down, vacant theatre. Worse yet, a greedy oil tycoon, Tex Richman (Cooper), is looking to seize the land and drill. In order to save their beloved studio, the Muppets must re-unite to put on one final show to raise $10 million.
Filled with in-jokes, great musical numbers, hilarious cameos, and an infectious energy, The Muppets is easily the most pure, joyful experience to hit the theaters this year. It’s also one of the year’s best films. It was Jason Segel’s idea to resurrect the franchise, and he and co-screenwriter Nicholas Stoller have done it justice. It’s satirical without being malicious, nostalgic to those who grew up watching them, and fresh enough to appeal to a new generation.
Segel is appropriately over-the-top as Gary. His performance takes on an aura of celebration that’s really contagious in the latter portions of the film. He’s clearly having a blast with the musical aspect, as is Amy Adams as his girlfriend. Not having Frank Oz involved may seem suspect on the surface, but the voice work by Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, and Dave Goelz, among others, is seamless and perfect. A host of celebrities make cameos, with Jack Black stealing just about every scene he is in.
It’s suggested numerous times in The Muppets that time has passed them by and they are relics of more innocent days gone by. Segel and director James Bobin have proved that to be false with this wonderful experience. It’s funny, moving, quick-witted, and way better than anything your kids are watching on TV these days. We, as filmgoers, needed and deserved this. It’s the rare, nearly unheard of, reboot done to perfection.
Note: I have no idea why The Muppets is even rated PG. There is nothing remotely objectionable and is safe for anyone in the family.
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Length: 98 Minutes
Rating: PG for some mild rude humor.
Theatrical Release: November 23, 2011
Directed by: James Bobin
Written by: Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller. Characters by Jim Henson.
Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Steve Whitmire (voice)