Jason Segel's long-awaited reboot of the Muppets franchise, aptly titled "The Muppets," pulls out all the stops: celebrity cameos, new Muppet songs, old Muppet songs, new Muppets (or one, at least, a shy little guy named Walter), and, of course, old Muppets. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and the rest are all featured in the film, though Segel's desire to showcase every old Muppet, as well as himself and his co-stars Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, and the newly created Walter, stretches screen time thin.
There is no one clear protagonist in the new "Muppets," though it is ostensibly Walter; perhaps it was Segel's (and his co-writer Nicholas Stoller's) intention to make the focus on the entire collection of Muppets rather than on any one in particular. Still, as always, Fozzie is the star of the show and should be on screen for at least twice the time he is given, while the world's best hecklers, Statler and Waldorf, also deserved far more lines.
Still, the anticipated effect of the film, and probably the reason for its making, is to revive the Muppets and create a market for plenty of sequels and who-knows-what-else, and this script is well-designed to hook in new viewers and bring back old ones. There are enough nostalgic moments for grown-up Muppets fans (the singing of "Rainbow Connection" at the film's climax, for instance), and enough stupid 2-year-old jokes and cute puppets to get toddlers excited about the Muppets.
As a movie, though, "The Muppets" is slightly disappointing, if only because the idea of a Segel-led team that included many "Flight of the Conchords" personnel (co-creator James Bobin directed, co-star Bret McKenzie wrote the new Muppets songs) reviving Jim Henson's revered Muppets seemed too good to be true. By no means is "The Muppets" a flop--it is still quite good--but it did fall short of my monumental expectations. The Muppets are certainly back, but they have left themselves plenty of room for improvement.