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"Muppets" Reboot Can't Quite Get Its Act Together

Desperately trying to appeal to not just the Gen X'ers who grew up with Kermit but also to the tykes who've never even heard of Jim Henson, The Muppets has none of the easy confidence of the original TV show or movie. The reboot is largely the labor of love of die-hard Muppets fan Jason Segel, who cowrote the script and also stars as Gary, big brother of Walter, a sweet if dull new Muppet created for the film. Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), Gary, and Gary's girlfriend (Amy Adams) leave their Midwestern hamlet for a trip to Los Angeles, where they tour the decrepit, dusty Muppet Studios and learn of a plot by tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to tear down the building. They frantically seek out Kermit, convincing him to reunite his long-lost pals to save it. Certain moments of Kermit's quest recall the vaudevillian fun of its predecessors. The Muppets is most successful when devoted to gathering the old players and following the arc of its forebears by becoming a show about the frenzy of putting on a show — in this case, a telethon to raise the money needed to buy back the studio. But, terrified of alienating those who were raised on the originals, The Muppets panders to them instead, constantly blasting or restaging Top 40 hits from the past three decades.

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Melissa Anderson is the senior film critic at the Village Voice, for which she first began writing in 2000. Her work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.

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