By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin November 23, 2011 at 7:40AM
On my way to see this movie I kept saying to myself, “I hope they didn’t louse it up!” The Muppets mean too much to me to let Jason Segel, or anybody, for that matter, diminish them. The minute the picture started, I heaved a sigh of relief and broke out in a smile. This is a joyful movie, the kind the Muppets (and their many fans) deserve.
In the tradition of Jim Henson’s original Muppet Show, this movie is essentially about putting on a show. Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller have concocted a serviceable storyline about a good-hearted fellow (Segel) and his puppet brother Walter, who (along with Segel’s girlfriend, Amy Adams) make a pilgrimage to the Muppet Studio in Hollywood, only to discover that it’s deserted and about to be torn down by a greedy developer (Chris Cooper). The only way to save it is to locate Kermit the Frog and persuade him to reassemble the old gang to put on a fund-raising telethon. There is just enough drama and suspense to lay a foundation for the comedy that defines The Muppets. The writers and director James Bobin haven’t deviated from the troupe’s original modus operandi. And the humor is never mean-spirited.
All of our old favorites are here, from Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy to the original grumpy old men, Statler and Waldorf, along with a number of celebrities in amusing cameos, from Selena Gomez to Mickey Rooney (whose son Michael choreographed the picture).
Simplicity is the key to the film’s success, perfectly expressed in an opening musical number featuring Segel, Walter, Adams, and scores of people from their home town, who sing and dance to Bret McKenzie’s “Life’s a Happy Song.”
I like all of McKenzie’s bright new compositions, but when Kermit broke into Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher’s “The Rainbow Connection,” I had to wipe a tear from my eye. It’s a tear of nostalgia for the happiness these characters have brought me for so many years. It’s great to have them back in a movie that audiences of all ages can enjoy