When you read that Frank Oz opted not to participate in The Muppets because he didn’t think the script “respected the characters,” it’s hard to not walk into the theater with a bit of skepticism.
Did they ruin our childhoods?
Fear not, gentle readers. They did not.
True, the latest iteration of the Muppets is not the best Muppet movie ever, but it’s certainly not the worst. (In a very informal poll, that dubious honor goes to either Muppets from Space or Muppet Treasure Island.)
But happily, The Muppets, starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams, in addition to our fine felt friends, is a lovely blend of nostalgia and obviously comes from a place of tremendous affection for the franchise. Our childhood is Jason Segels’ childhood—he pushed to get this movie made, he worked hard, and it shows.
Segel and Adams play Gary and Mary, a young couple who, along with Gary’s Muppet brother Walter, are visiting Los Angeles to see the old Muppets studio, only to find out it’s about to be demolished by an oil tycoon (Chris Cooper). Unless, of course, the Muppets can come up with $10 million to buy him out. Obviously if you’re a Muppet, you raise money by putting on a show. The trouble is, the Muppets haven’t put on a show in years—they’re all living separate lives and have lost touch. And in the film, America’s not exactly clamoring for new Muppet material, either. Once reassembled, the Muppets are informed by one TV exec after another that they’re no longer relevant to pop culture; we’re all too busy with reality TV and crap competition shows.
Fortuitous Muppet timing, of course, lands the gang at the right place at the right time, at a network right when another show gets canceled, and the network needs something to fill the time slot the next day. The Muppets just need a celebrity host and to polish up their act and they’ll be good to go.
All standard Muppet movie themes are present and accounted for: love, friendship, finding yourself, and whoopee cushions. Plus countless celebrity cameos, including one that, for a particular subset of nerd (woot!), might be the best movie surprise ever.
So go forth, people. Relive your childhood, sing along, laugh, cry, and make this movie successful. Because you know Disney—they love a sequel!