It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to meet the Muppets. Again.
In Disney's franchise reboot The Muppets, the perpetually meta monsters attempt a comeback after years out of the spotlight.
The Muppets begins without any of the troupe's longtime members, instead introducing Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), a character and puppet who's a loud and proud fan of Kermit and the gang. Walter, his non-puppet brother Gary (Segel), and Gary's steady girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) embark a trip to Los Angeles -- part 10-year anniversary celebration for the doting couple, part destination trip to visit the storied Muppet Studios.
We quickly learn via Hensonian trope (in a scene that includes resident grump Statler uttering with a wink, "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were reciting an important plot point.") that the in-ruin studios are sitting on an oil well, and, if oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) has his way, they'll soon be demolished.
Walter, who conveniently overhears Richman's underhanded plans, decides to reunite the crew in hopes of saving the historic studios. After convincing Kermit, who doesn't seem to be up to much besides living in a big, empty mansion, that the studios need saving, the crew rounds up the straggling members to host a comeback telethon. They need to raise $10 million to buy back the studios before Richman can destroy them.
It's not without thought that the first theatrical Muppet release since the honestly dismal Muppets in Space winks at its own unlikelihood. The unnamed TV executive (Rashida Jones) who allows the ragtag troupe to air their telethon puts it bluntly: "You guys aren't famous anymore."
The thing is, nobody does comedy like Henson did in the Muppets heyday. His brand of wit, intellect, and pure silliness is a style that only he could effortlessly pull off. And that's why The Muppets has to work harder to compensate for not only the absence of its creator but the state of what's funny.
And while the film had one too many musical numbers ("Me Party," despite the Conchordian touch of Bret McKenzie, felt out of place and way too close to the just-ended blowout cover of "We Built This City") and the notably absent Frank Oz (who had his own Muppet project rejected in favor of Segel's), it was more than heart warming to see the beloved monsters back in action.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.