Actor Jason Segel and his Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller have co-written this Muppet re-launch, and in doing so retained all the simplicity, wit, warmth and goofiness of the original. The result is a fun-filled feature that's a joy, whether you're an ardent fan or meeting the Muppets for the first time.
Segal and Stoller's approach is based on the fact The Muppet Show finished its five-year run 30 years ago, and it's been 12 years since they've been on the big screen. In the story The Muppets have disbanded and drifted apart, and their variety style television show is just a fond memory.
Out of nowhere the old crew is brought together by Walter, their biggest fan. On holiday in Los Angeles with his brother Gary (Segal) and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) he overhears wealthy oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) tell of his plans to tear down and drill under The Muppet Theatre. To save this precious landmark Walter convinces Kermit to round up the Muppets for a one-off telethon special in the hope of saving the theatre.
From here on in we're in traditional Muppet territory: putting on a show is what the Muppets do! All our favourite characters have been dusted off - Fozzie Bear, Animal, Scooter, Beaker, just to name a few - although it's a little harder for Kermit to convince Miss Piggy to leave her cushy job as the plus-size fashion editor at Paris Vogue.
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By the time the telethon show starts and Kermit's cranking out Rainbow Connection I was emanating a nostalgic glow at the joy of having the old gang together again. The smile stayed for the rest of the film.
There's the usual backstage chaos and the acts and gags are as wonderfully bad as always. As the Muppets are now apparently irrelevant they have to kidnap a celebrity guest (Jack Black) rather than invite one to join them. Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie contributes an excellent collection of catchy and amusing songs, and there are plenty of self-referential in-jokes and gentle jibes at the entertainment industry.
Sure, the new characters are thinly padded, it's cheesy at times and it's not the most original storyline. But - and it's a big but - this is wholesome family entertainment at its best; it's charming, moving and hysterically funny. Quite simply the most fun I've had at the cinema in ages.
Cast: Amy Adams, Jason Segel
Director: James Bobin
Running time: 110 mins
Verdict: If this doesn't put a smile on your face nothing will.