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The Muppets: An Imperfect Reboot, a Welcome Return

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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. 

Meanwhile, the actual behind-the-camera filmmakers (including the picture's co-writer and leading man Jason Segel) attempt to bridge an audience gap between those who grew up with Jim Henson's cuddly characters and a younger set who've never heard of them.

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.

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