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The Muppets go Hollywood

Published December 08. 2011 05:01PM

"The Muppets" are back.

For those who didn't realize it, The Muppets franchise, purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 2004, was moribund in the marketplace. In other words, The Muppets were old-hat, or perhaps more precisely, old sock puppets.

Disney "felt" it was time to reboot our fine felted friends.

For the "The Muppets" movie, the franchise was entrusted to Jason Segal, who co-wrote the screenplay and appears in the movie, and Nicholas Stoller.

Of course, why wouldn't you bring in Segal, who wrote and starred in, and Stoller, who directed, the raunchy R-Rated comedy, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," in which Segal bared all?

Obviously, that Dracula puppet show in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" clinched it for Segal.

Add to these questionable choices the director of "The Muppets," James Bobin, who wrote for TV's "The Alli G Show" and "The Flight of the Conchords," the latter which he also directed and created.

"The Alli G" and "Conchords" are also not what could be considered kiddie fare.

Not to worry. With the exception of a couple of Whoopee Cushion jokes, evil Muppets called The Moopets, and perhaps one too many self-referencial asides, "The Muppets" franchise is still intact.

In fact, "The Muppets" movie, which is a musical, really, with comedy, is as sweet, sentimental and fun as a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland movie.

The Mickey-Judy movie musical plot line of "Let's put on a show" is pretty much the extent of the plot line in "The Muppets."

Jason Segal plays Gary, who is dating Mary (Amy Adams) for seven years in Smalltown, USA.

Gary's brother Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), who is a Muppet but is treated as a human, is a big fan of The Muppets.

For their anniversary, Gary and Mary travel to Hollywood.

Walter tags along because among the tourist stops is The Muppet Theater, which is closed and in deplorable condition. Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) wants to buy the theater for what is believed to be a lucrative oil deposit underneath it.

Gary and Walter decide to reunite The Muppets for a telethon to raise $10 million and outbid Richman for the theater.

Tracking down The Muppets, restoring the theater and putting on the telethon provides fodder for laughs and song and dance. The songs and choreography are charming in the Broadway musical style.

Bret McKenzie of "The Conchords" wrote four original songs for the soundtrack and is the movie's music supervisor.

His songs include "Life's a Happy Song," sung by Segal, Adams and Walter; "Man or Muppet," a duet by Segal and Walter; and "Me Party," sung by Adams and Miss Piggy.

The 15 songs include "The Muppet Show Theme" and "Rainbow Connection."

Great In supporting roles are Rashida Jones, Jack Black, Zach Galifianakis, Alan Arkin and Emily Blunt.

It's fun to spot the cameos, including Ken Jeong, Kristen Schaal, Dave Grohl, Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris, Selena Gomez, John Krasinski, Leslie Feist, Sarah Silverman -- and, yes, Mickey Rooney.

"The Muppets" will be of chief interest to moppets -- those 10 and under -- and those who remember being moppets and watching The Muppets on TV.

"The Muppets," MPAA Rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children) for some mild rude humor; Genre: Comedy, Family, Musical; Run time: 1 hour, 38 minutes; Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: A "Toy Story" short film preceeds "The Muppets." Make sure you get to the movie theater in time to see it.

Box Office, Dec. 2: "The Twilight Series: Breaking Dawn, Part 1" continued at No. 1 for a third week, $16.9 million, $247.3 million, three weeks, and "The Muppets" continued at No. 2, $11.2 million, $56.1 million, two weeks. "Hugo" moved up from No. 5 to No. 3, $7.6 million, $25.1 million, two weeks.

4. "Arthur Christmas," $7.3 million, $25.2 million; two weeks; 5. "Happy Feet Two," $6 million, $51.7 million, three weeks; 6. "Jack and Jill," $5.5 million, $64.3 million, four weeks; 7. "The Descendants," $5.2 million, $18 million, three weeks; 8. "The Immortals," $4.3 million, $75.5 million, four weeks; 9. "Tower Heist," $4.1 million, $70.8 million, five weeks; 10. "Puss in Boots," $3 million, $139.5 million, six weeks

Unreel, Dec. 9:

"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," R: George Smiley returns from semi-retirement to track down a Soviet agent during the Cold War. Gary Oldman and Colin Firth star in the espionage thriller.

"New Year's Eve," PG-13: Garry Marshall directs Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel and Ashton Kutcher in the romantic comedy about several couples on New Year's Eve in New York City.

"The Sitter," R: Jonah Hill stars in the comedy about a college student who babysits the children next door.

"I Melt with You," R: Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe and Jeremy Piven star in the drama about fortysomething college friends' annual reunion.

Read previous movie reviews at Email Paul Willistein at: and on Facebook.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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