The Muppets (U)

Starring: Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper

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The Independent Culture

It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights... it's time to revisit the simpler days of your childhood with favourite felt-based friends The Muppets.

This revival, at once innocent and knowing, makes a little joke of arrested development in its pairing of Jason Segel and his "brother" Walter, a Muppet. Nobody bothers to doubt their connection – they're blood, and that's it. On a trip to Hollywood, Walter uncovers a plot by a dastardly plutocrat (Chris Cooper) to destroy the clapped-out Muppets studio and drill the land for oil. So Walter decides to reunite the old gang for a show that will raise the $10m needed to save the place.

A flurry of early gags pokes fun at the showbiz contrivances – Segel, on handing his fiancée (Amy Adams) a wilted bunch of flowers, says, "Sorry, that must be from the dance number I was just doing." Even the villains get to comment on their own conventions: "maniacal laughter," commands Chris Cooper of his henchmen. The jokes flag after a while, though the charm stays strong, even when the promised Celebrity Cameo turns out to be Jack Black. Is he really on a par with Miss Piggy?