The Muppets | Film review
Kermit and the gang revive the pleasures of their Henson-controlled heyday.
Given that it’s been 12 years since Kermit and company gallivanted across movie screens, it should come as no surprise that this colorful reboot takes their status as faded matinee idols as its subject. What should come as a surprise, particularly for those who have trudged through the gang’s spotty, post-’80s output, is how closely The Muppets approximates the appeal—the classic, magic blend of sublime silliness and unabashed sentimentality—of the franchise’s Henson-controlled heyday.
Jason Segel, a lifelong Muppet aficionado, cowrote the screenplay, and his affection for the characters lends the film a jolt of nostalgic sweetness. The actor plays a baby-faced romantic whose closeness with his shrimpy, conspicuously Muppet-like brother has begun to make his long-term sweetheart (Amy Adams) feel like a third wheel. On a vacation to Los Angeles, the three stumble upon a nefarious plot to tear down the old Muppet Show studios. What follows is a getting-the-gang-back-together road trip, one that purposefully mirrors—via its celebrity cameos, meta asides and episodic misadventures—the 1979 original.
The songs, alas, are pretty soggy; to paraphrase a bound-and-kidnapped Jack Black, none of us needed to hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” covered by a barbershop quartet. The film’s biggest mistake is affording too much screen time to its flesh-and-blood cast members. When Segel belts out “Am I a man or a Muppet?” in a late-film showstopper, it’s hard not to wish he were the latter. Still, the missteps are outpaced by the inspired touches, like a shadow roster of evil “Moopets” and an ’80s-robot sidekick. Mostly, it’s just nice to make a rainbow connection with some old friends.