Everybody loves when a former star finds a vehicle to make a comeback. We love it when the guy we all forgot gets a second chance.
This is especially true when the comeback involves something new and fresh, a different take than what the person was known for.
I wish that “The Muppets” were that, but it’s not. This movie just follows a formula that many of the earlier Muppet movies follow: There is a crisis, and it demands that the Muppets put on a show or make a movie.
Now that doesn’t mean this movie is terrible. It isn’t. But I longed for something new and fresh from them. It could be that Jason Segel, one of the writers and the star, wanted to fill a nostalgic void.
The plot goes this way: Gary (Segel) and new Muppet Walter (Peter Linz) go on a trip to Hollywood. Gary goes in hopes of spending time with Mary (Amy Adams), his girlfriend, while Walter goes to see Muppet Studios.
While there, Walter learns that Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is buying the rundown Muppet Studios to drill for oil. Walter, Gary and Mary go to Kermit the Frog to get him to do something to save the studio.
Kermit decides that in order to save the studio, he needs to get the Muppets, who have gone their separate ways, back together.
What follows is the sequence of finding the other Muppets. For example, Fozzie is working in Reno with a group called the Moopets. He is part of their lounge act in a small casino. Kermit prevails, and Fozzie leaves those schmaltzy Moopets behind.
This process continues on until they get the group back together. Then the group cleans up and repairs the Muppet Theater for the big show.
Another part of the old formula for the movie is allowing us to see stars in cameos that are cute and fun. One cameo is Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters acting like Animal in the Moopet act.
The same old playbook of Muppet moviemaking is employed here: double-crosses, song-and-dance numbers.
Again, this is not bad moviemaking. My 20-year-old and 15-year-old boys laughed heartily and enjoyed the movie.
But my wife and I thought the movie dragged in the second act. It was cute to a point; then the narrative ground to a halt.
The human actors do well. Segel and Adams make a cute couple. The Muppets do their same old shtick. Cooper plays a nice heavy. But when all is said and done, there are no shining moments.
The songs are not of the caliber of “Rainbow Connection,” though that song is used in the movie. There is no “It’s Not Easy Being Green” here.
“The Muppets” is just a nice movie for a family night out. No grand illusion or great message here. Too bad.
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild rude humor.
Director: James Bobin
Writers: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Jason Segel: Gary; Amy Adams: Mary; Peter Linz: Walter; Chris Cooper: Tex Richman; Rashida Jones: CDE Executive.
The movie’s website is here.