"I'm gonna shoot straight: you guys aren't famous anymore."
--"Yeesh. I wish she'd shot a little more curvy."
Anyone who grew up in the 70s or 80s probably has seen at least a few episodes of the Jim Henson-created puppet, er, muppet show "The Muppets." Some of us may have even owned muppet toys, DVDs, CDs, and t-shirts featuring our favorite muppet character.
But none of us is a bigger fan of the Muppets than Jason Segel. Yes, the man who cradled a bong and professed, "It's not herpes if it's anywhere" in the stoner flick Knocked Up has a special place in his heart for the lovable Kermit, Ms. Piggy, Fozzie and their furry friends.
In case you needed any proof of that, Segel stars in (and co-wrote) The Muppets, where he affirms his undying love for the pop culture icons on the big screen. Segel plays Gary, a loving, happy-go-lucky brother to Walter and impossibly cheery boyfriend to Mary (Amy Adams). But you should know going in, Walter is a muppet (apparently, a long-lost muppet). But no one realizes that, or Gary and Walter don't, until Walter sees the muppets on TV and they become his idols.
When Gary treats Mary to a trip to Los Angeles, he also invites Walter along so he can visit the muppets studio. There, they learn that the museum is now decrepit and the muppets are so-called has-beens. To top to off, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), a maniacal millionaire, threatens to buy the museum and the muppet name if the muppets can't come up with a million dollars to buy it from him. So, after years apart, they (including Walter, Mary and Gary) must find a way to get the ole gang back together again and put on a show to raise the money and reclaim their name.
If you too were a muppets fan, you'll appreciate that Segel and director James Bobin (in his first full-length feature) preserved the essence of the characters whom you know and love. You can see Kermit as the role of the ringmaster, or leader so to speak, of the gang. Ms. Piggy is just as vain yet charming as you remember her. And Animal still plays a mean drum, and has a tendency for sporadic outbursts.
The film is very self-aware in that it plays to the fact that the generation growing up today may not be familiar with the muppets, as the genre of kids entertainment has become a stark contrast from the simple yet heartfelt sentiment found in the muppets.
For those doubtful about the human aspect of the movie (namely Adam and Segel, and the barrage of cameos from Selena Gomez and Mickey Rooney), the thoughtful performances by Segel and Adams may turn you around. Although it is important to have them in the movie, they also add a nice subplot that asks: Can you still be an adult if you still love and admire the muppets? And, how do you do when you've grown up?
With spectacular song and dance numbers (fittingly in the middle of the street at times), a joyous attitude carried throughout the whole movie, The Muppets not only restore their name in the movie, but they prove to the audience that they're back and they're still as cute and entertaining as ever before.