Disney reboots The Muppets with this tale of the furry friends reuniting to try and save their old theatre from demolition. It’s been many years since The Muppets last performed together, having all gone their separate ways. Evil oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, clearly enjoying himself – but then who wouldn’t with a character name like that?) wants to bulldoze the old Muppet Theater in order to drill for oil. Brothers and lifelong muppet fans Jason Segel and Walter (actually a muppet, though he’s oblivious to the fact) decide to try and save it by convincing Kermit the Frog to round up the old gang for one last fundraising show.
There’s a lot to like here, but it’s not quite as satisfying as it should be. Undoubtedly it’s a pleasure to have the Muppets back – not just onscreen, but back as themselves. It’s been a long time since we saw them as they were on the classic TV show, and the film is at its best when a sense of that old anarchy comes in to play as they try to put on a variety show that is plainly very very silly. Just feel the grin on your face when the old opening theme starts up.
But there’s also a love and nostalgia for the characters that periodically threatens to suffocate the film. After Kermit delivers yet another heartfelt pearl of wisdom, you may find yourself rolling your eyes. Happily it’s not too often, and though the film sags around the middle as the reunion threatens to fall apart, it picks up again in the final act. The musical set pieces are a genuine joy.
Adults who remember the Muppets from their childhood will enjoy this film the most; small fry will like it too, but will probably wonder what all the fuss is about.