Fun 'Muppets' big on smiles

Article Published: Dec. 1, 2011 | Modified: Dec. 5, 2011
Fun 'Muppets' big on smiles

Jason Segel (and some other familiar faces) star in 'The Muppets.'

Photo submitted

Smiling at the movie theater is a fairly common thing.

Smiling throughout an entire movie is a different beast altogether, and this beast resembles a talking frog.

A happy blend of nostalgia and timeless humor makes "The Muppets" one of the most smile-friendly movies of the year.

It's a labor of love from funnyman and puppeteer-who-makes-it-look-cool Jason Segel (see his puppet "Dracula" musical in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), who co-wrote, produced and took it upon himself to make a "Muppet" film that'd make their late creator, Jim Henson, proud.

Jam-packed with familiar faces, voices, cameos aplenty and memorable songs from "Flight of the Conchords" alumnus Bret McKenzie, "The Muppets" is pure cinematic fun.

Keeping both adults and kids in mind, director James Bubin (also from “Flight of the Conchords”) deftly keeps things clean and edgy, effectively dusting off this group of puppets for the generation that adored them and those who, hopefully, will grow to do so.

Segel, a champion of that former generation, plays Gary, happy-go-lucky brother of kindhearted puppet (just go with it) Walter (voiced by Peter Linz, TV’s “Sesame Street”). Aware of his differences, Walter takes solace in "The Muppet Show," becoming its biggest fan and hoping to someday join its ranks.

When Gary plans a trip to Los Angeles to celebrate his and girlfriend Mary's (Amy Adams, "The Fighter") 10th anniversary, he lets Walter come along to experience the Muppet Theater firsthand.

But when they arrive, and after a tour led by guide Alan Arkin ("Little Miss Sunshine"), they discover the studios are defunct and condemned. Furthermore, oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, "Adaptation") plans to make bad on an old contract and tear down the theater to drill for oil.

Walter and the gang track down Kermit the Frog (voiced by Steve Whitmire) and convince him to get the old gang back together. In doing so, they’ll stage a reunion telethon to raise enough money to save the theater and herald the Muppets' return to the limelight.

Needless to say, it’s not easy being green. But it is hilarious. All the Muppets have gone their separate ways, some more successful (like the Great Gonzo and his plumbing empire) than others (like Fozzie Bear, slumming it in Reno with a Muppet tribute band). Miss Piggy (voiced by Eric Jacobson) is plus-sized editor of Vogue Paris, while Animal (also Jacobson) is undergoing therapy with Jack Black (as himself) for drumming addiction.

Can they all pull together for one last show? Will Kermit and Miss Piggy rekindle their lost love? Will Chris Cooper rap?

The answers might be obvious, and the story’s decidedly clichéd, but all within reason. “The Muppets” is gleefully self-aware, poking fun at itself (i.e. the groups’ fade into obscurity), musicals and just about anything they get their fuzzy, felt hands on.

Segel and Adams don’t particularly have much to do, story-wise, but let’s face it, the stars of this show aren’t human. Everyone involved seems to realize this, including the film’s bounty of cameos, including Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, Mickey Rooney, Zach Galifianakis and James Carville, all who seemingly appear just to show their affection for a beloved franchise and have fun in the process.

And that’s what “The Muppets” is about: fun. No strings attached (well, maybe).

“The Muppets,” rated PG for some mild rude humor, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For showtimes, visit Also, be sure to arrive on time for a delightful “Toy Story” short from Pixar.

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