The Muppets is confused.
The screenplay from Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller oscillates between being this lame story about Segel and his brother, a Muppet named Walter (indistinctly performed by Peter Linz), and his girlfriend (Amy Adams) and a better story of the Muppets reuniting.
The better story is, unfortunately, not exactly good. There are some good moments, but Segel and Stoller take a very serious approach to the Muppets. Kermit is a, well, hermit. Gonzo and Piggy have sold out. Fozzie’s working in Reno. Rowlf doesn’t even get a backstory; it’s hard not to read into that slight, since Rowlf was previously the symbol of Jim Henson’s legacy.
But the good stuff in The Muppets can’t outweigh the bad. Segel gives a weak performance, but he’s still leagues ahead of Adams. Adams is shockingly bad and creepily artificial. Neither character matters to the film and much of The Muppets is Segel and Stoller forcing their story into the picture.
Most of the human performances are bad. Chris Cooper is awful, maybe even worse than Adams.
Only Rashida Jones is good and she’s barely in it.
Watching The Muppets, I tried to imagine watching it again and could not. Segel and Stoller have some really stupid details and, until Kermit shows up, the film is pretty dreadful. Bobin is a bad director.
As for the Muppets… Without the original performers, Muppets feels even more like a corporate construction.
It’s not a complete failure, but it’s too close to being one.
Directed by James Bobin; screenplay by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, based on characters created by Jim Henson; director of photography, Don Burgess; edited by James M. Thomas; music by Christophe Beck; production designer, Steve Saklad; produced by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman; released by Walt Disney Pictures.
Starring Peter Linz (Walter) and Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman and Matt Vogel as the Muppets.
Starring Jason Segel (Gary), Amy Adams (Mary), Chris Cooper (Tex Richman), Rashida Jones (Veronica) and Jack Black (himself).