Before the opening of the Muppets the audience got treated to a Toy Story Toon short film. When a young child and mother walk into the poultry palace the child is treated to a toy with the meal. In a glass display case is a smaller version of Buzz Lightyear who will always be admired but never played with by children. That is until he gets an opportunity to take down the real Buzz in the play ball pit at the restaurant. Not knowing, the child takes the toys home but Woody and the gang discover the intruder, tying him up and interrogating him for the whereabouts of Buzz. Meanwhile Buzz is attending toy therapy in the storage room with the other misfit toys but before you know it Buzz flies out of the room and back into the home where all his friends await him. A cute and humorous take on the Toy Story characters with a twist of misfits that leaves the audience laughing and hopeful that “the Muppets” to follow will keep the energy alive.
Does it? Well not quite at first but it does become enjoyable when it brings back the true nostalgia of the old Muppet show on television. It starts off passing the years from childhood to adulthood as Gary (Jason Segel) and Muppet brother Walter (voice of Peter Linz) are shown as inseparable. Many years later Gary is a grown man yet Walter is still the same, apparently Muppets do not age. Gary is dating the town’s school teacher, Mary (Amy Adams) and although she holds an admiration for Walter she is concerned about the time Gary and Walter spend together. In Smalltown, population of 103 Gary has been dating Mary for ten years and is about to take her over Spring break to Los Angeles along with Walter who is excited about visiting the Muppet Studios. After a town sing and dance routine all three, Gary, Mary and Walter are off to Hollywood.
When they arrive to discover that the Muppet Studios tour is run down and tired like the tour guide (Alan Arkin), Walter sneaks off into Kermit’s old studio office. He overhears Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) and two Muppets discussing their plans for the studio grounds. The public thinks it’s going to become a Muppet museum but Tex has other plans. If the Muppets don’t come up with ten million dollars in two weeks than the grounds belong to Tex who has plans to demolish the studios and dig for oil.
Did people forget about the Muppets? Well let’s hope not since Gary, Mary, Walter and now Kermit, who they tracked down, are on the way to reassemble the old gang. By land and sea and the use of travel map they discover Fozzie Bear (voice of Eric Jacobson) in Reno leading a small bar entertainment band with some Muppet want-to-be rejects, Gonzo (voice of Dave Goetz) is working with toilets at the Royal Flush, Animal, no longer a drummer, is in celebrity rehab with the likes of Jack Black and Miss Piggy (voice of Eric Jacobson) is in Paris France working with plus size fashions at Paris Vogue. Soon the whole gang is back together again but this time with a goal in mind to raise ten million dollars and save their theatre. Albeit in the meantime Gary may be losing his ten year relationship with Mary.
The entire gang is out shopping the idea of a return to all the Networks but the answer each time is no. That is until they speak with CDE Executive Veronica (Rashida Jones) and due to a legal issue with their ‘Punch Teacher’ show a time slot has suddenly become open with a need for a new program placement in a matter of hours. So Veronica takes a shot on “The Muppets” to fill the now vacant two hour hole. Off to the studio, doors open and what stands before them is a huge mess but they built this city on rock and roll and apparently cleaned the studio to it as well. “The Muppets” are now on their way to raising ten million dollars in a televised telethon. If the money is not raised then Tex and the Moopets gain the land, the name and of course the studios. Of course they need a celebrity Host and who better to lasso up for the task then Jack Black. They even got a number of Muppets and star names to answer phones but still they lacked an audience other than Hobo Joe (Zach Galifianakis). One of their funniest acts was that of Jack Black and the barber shop quartet which along with other acts will bring back fond memories to the boomers in the audience of days past when “The Muppets” where ever so admired on television. Of course when Kermit and Miss Piggy belt out the ‘rainbow connection’ and animal works his stixs and Walter finds his strength, no matter if 9,999,999 or 99,999.99 dollars “the Muppets” are one again welcomed back to mainstream celebrity. So what better to do in the end than to sing and dance to a happy song? Stay tuned for the credits and some very cute “manawmana”.
The film is directed well but starts off just a bit slow and a bit cheesy but of course it is a family musical starring “The Muppets”. It does however get much more interesting and enjoyable after the first half hour. So basically if they made the story a half hour shorter it may have been a better return to stage and screen than anticipated. The music and dance were all enjoyable even though at times Amy Adams seemed a bit distant and Jason Segel not quite the leading man persona. Overall though all the actors and Henson characters complimented each other well. The film was also not short on cameos either with stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris, Selena Gomez, Judd Hirsch, John Krasinski, Rico Rodriguez and even Mickey Rooney just to name a few. Oh the memories of the evenings at home as a child watching and laughing at “The Muppets”, let’s just hope this modern day generation of children will do the same since “The Muppets” truly deserve the attention. Written and enjoyed with two and a half paws out of four by Jon Patch.