Originating in the 1950s by the ultimate puppeteer Jim Henson, The Muppets have been around for as long as anyone in my generation can remember. They have become celebrities in themselves, presenting at the Emmys and the Oscars and being interviewed on The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Although Kermit and Ms. Piggy's prime was in the 1970s and 1980s, charming us weekly on their self-titled show, The Muppets (1976-1981) and in their box-office hits, like The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan, their fame has failed to die away. However, after 12 years without our beloved entertainment group on the big screen, we begin to miss Fawzy's bad jokes and Miss Piggy's absurd demands. You begin to worry, what if those big protruding eyes remain icons of the past? In comes superhero Jason Segel to save the day.
The film that brought Segel to the height of his fame today was one that he wrote and produced in 2008, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In one scene of the film, Segel sits at the piano crying, while drunkenly singing the opening theme to The Muppets and later, his character Peter fulfills his dream of putting on a puppet musical of Dracula. Where else could these off-the-wall ideas come from if not from the mind of a truly devoted Muppet -- and puppets in general -- fan? Segel's public obsession became even more known when it was announced that he approached Disney about making a new Muppet film. According to Segel, it was four years ago that the executives at Disney laughed at him and co-writer Nicholas Stoller -- who directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall -- for even mentioning the idea. But now it's 2011, and even the idea of the Muppets back again gets people overly excited.
Segel and Stoller went about creating the plot for the new film in a perfect way, using the new character of Walter to give the franchise a fresh taste and reasoning for the clan to get back together. Walter -- who I should mention is a puppet -- has grown up with his human brother and best friend Gary (Segel), and is the biggest Muppet fan of all time. Walter has watched every episode, owns every collectable and even dresses up as Kermit for Halloween. His close relationship with his brother becomes a little problematic for Gary's longtime girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), when he accompanies them on their honeymoon trip to the exciting land of Los Angeles, where Walter will finally see the Muppets set. When the trio gets there and sees the place is rundown though, Walter becomes disappointed and goes exploring into Kermit's old house. There, he overhears the incorrigible taxman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) talking about buying the property because there is profitable oil underneath it and we find out he will be able to unless the Muppets can raise 10 million dollars in time. In a panic, Walter makes Gary and Mary find Kermit's house with him, where they will tell him the fate of the Muppets studio. When they meet him, Kermit is convinced by Walter to bring the whole gang back together to put on a show for the 10 million. Once they've got everyone on board, it's up to them to put on the greatest show just in the nick of time to save the beloved place that made them the Muppets.
It is crucial and almost expected for every family film to have adult humor. With Segel and Stoller -- whose previous writing credits include Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek -- writing the script, I expected inappropriate humor that goes straight over the kids' heads to make up for most of the laughs. Instead, Segel and Stoller used the fame of The Muppets from the 1970s and 1980s from their childhood to contribute countless nostalgic jokes for adults, but do not by any means let them overpower the humor in the film. The script's cleverness makes the comeback film fresh and fun, so that the people who have seen all the Muppets films can enjoy it as much as someone watching them for the first time. The film balances a fine line of keeping up with Muppet traditions like celebrity cameos and musical numbers, while making it new and appealing to 2011 audiences. Stoller and Segel completing this hard task is only an addition to writing one of the funniest scripts of the year.
The only film that I came close to laughing as much as I did during The Muppets was Bridesmaids last May, and everyone thought that was the funniest film of 2011. The amazing thing about The Muppets, though, is that during those rare moments when you are not laughing, you are smiling in complete ecstacy. The cameos are just right with Emily Blunt repeating her role in The Devil Wears Prada, this time as Miss Piggy's posh assistant in Europe, and Jim Parsons being the human vision of Walter. The musical numbers are hilarious and highly enjoyable with old favourites like "The Rainbow Connection" and "Mahna Mahna" and new classics "Man Or Muppet" -- where Water and Gary simultaneously stress over which species they belong to -- and the ridiculously catchy "Life's A Happy Song."
The talented cast of this film just makes you smile even more. Chris Cooper is incredibly funny and convincing as the evil Tex Richman, especially during his impromptu rap, "Let's Talk About Me." There is nothing more adorable than Amy Adams and Jason Segel on their own, so when you put them together and throw in Kermit and Walter and Miss Piggy, you are left with the most charming and delightful cast of all time. Segel is not only commendable as an exceptional actor, producer, screenwriter and songwriter, but as the reason for why we get to see one of the best films of the year, and arguably the best Muppet film of all time. Without his love for The Muppets and drive to bring them back, we would all be missing those two hours of unexplainable happiness that The Muppets give us, from our lives. A lyric from the opening and closing "Life's A Happy Song" -- "I just can't wipe the smile off my face" -- is a perfect way to describe watching the film because you will simply never have a happier movie experience. So for that, I say thank you Jason Segel, for bringing those silly, lovable, inspiring Muppets back into our hearts.