I’ve never considered myself a major Muppet fan, but watching The Muppets (2011) last weekend reminded me how much Muppetness I consumed as a kid. This film is an unabashed, loving nostalgia trip for Muppet fans of my generation. And I guess maybe I’m a little bit of a Muppet fan after all, even if I prefer, say, Roowlf and Floyd to Kermit and Miss Piggy.
Jason Segel stars, with adorable geeky enthusiasm, as Gary, whose brother Walter just happens to be a Muppet, living an out-of-place life in the human world. Walter grows up idolizing The Muppet Show, of course. So Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) take Walter to Los Angeles to tour Muppet Studios, which turns out to be a dusty, run-down shell of a place — which Walter learns has been targeted for destruction by evil oil magnate Tex Richman (a perfectly cast Chris Cooper). Walter takes it upon himself to lure the Muppets out of retirement and mobilize them to save their legacy, and maybe convince the world it still cares about Muppets.
After a slow start, The Muppets eventually ramps up, and it makes for an entertaining blast from the past. It’s uneven in places, but harmless family fun, targeted perhaps more toward adults, steeped in its lore, than kids. It makes up for its clunkier moments with some laugh-out-loud funny setpieces and musical numbers, and features the expected parade of well timed celebrity cameos. I got a kick out of it, more than I was expecting.