After being absent from the big screen (as well as pop culture) for more than a decade, the Muppets are finally making their much anticipated return with this year’s comeback film simply titled “The Muppets.” Acknowledging the Muppets’ lack of relevance as of late, this new movie finds the gang broken up and out of touch, with each character off doing their own thing. Fozzie is singing lead in a Muppets tribute band -The Moopets – at a dingy club in Reno, Gonzo is the head of plumbing giant Gonzo’s Royal Flush, and Miss Piggy works for Vogue Paris.
Enter Walter, an avid fan of The Muppets who also happens to be a muppet himself. Ever since he was a kid, he and his brother Gary (played by Jason Segel) bonded over watching The Muppet Show, hoping that one day they may actually get to meet their childhood idols. So when Gary decides to take his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to LA for their tenth anniversary, he invites Walter to tag-along and finally see all the Muppet sights. When the trio visits LA, they discover not only that The Muppets have disbanded, but that their beloved theater is in danger of being destroyed by an evil oil tycoon named Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). The only hope of saving the theater is to reassemble The Muppets and put on one more show to raise enough money ($10 million bucks) to buy the theater back from Richman.
Written by: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper
Though the plot is a little weak, it serves as the perfect vehicle to put together a nostalgia-loaded first act in which the beloved Muppets are rediscovered one-by-one. By working the Muppets’ real-life fade from the spotlight into the film’s script, Segel and fellow writer Nicholas Stoller (“Get Him to the Greek,” “Yes Man”) found a way to slowly build and ultimately enhance the excitement that die-hard fans will experience as they see the Muppets on the big screen once again. Despite the perhaps-too-easy premise of having to save the Muppet Theater, Segel and Stoller’s script really hits its marks when it comes to humor and incorporating the musical numbers. Director James Bobin, best known for writing and directing many “Flight of the Conchords” episodes, definitely gives “The Muppets” a “Conchords” tinge. That feeling is helped along by the presence of a handful of songs written by Bret McKenzie, who starred in and also wrote for “Flight of the Conchords.”
In fact, really the only issue that “The Muppets” encounters is that, while focusing so much on catering to nostalgic adults who will appreciate its “Flight of the Conchords” style, the movie tends to leave kids behind. Normally, kids movies (excluding most of Pixars and a handful of Dreamworks’ films) suffer from way too much kid jokes and nothing for the adults to enjoy or appreciate. But with “The Muppets,” there’s too much adult material and not enough to keep kids’ attentions. This new update has traded adventures to Treasure Island and space for … a Muppet telethon. Unfortunately it seems that Segel and his gang got so caught up in bringing back old Muppets fans, that he forgot about making new ones.
Still, “The Muppets” is an enjoyable addition to the saga that will surely delight nostalgic fans who have been patiently awaiting their return to theaters. For people who are new to the Muppets, there’s plenty of catchy songs, clever humor, and excellent celebrity cameos (from Jack Black to Jim Parsons to Andy Rooney) to help you understand where the die-hards are coming from. And if anything, it’s worth seeing just for the hilarious hip-hop rap done by Chris Cooper himself.
You read that right – Chris Cooper and hip-hop, together at last.