The late Jim Henson created muppets back in the 1950s; it was simply a term he used combining marionette with puppet. The Muppets, as we know them, were out of Sesame Street back in 1975. They later got their own show a year later and the rest was history. As an aside, technically Bert and Ernie are muppets - but not Muppets. They like Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, Cookie Monster and others are Sesame Street characters.


I said all that to make sure those who are too young to remember the Muppet Show and subsequent films understand the difference between the characters and the franchises. Also to reflect on the puppetry genius of the late Mr Henson. A genius that Disney recognized and, after he died in 1990, made every attempt to own. They succeeded in 2004 and shelved the characters; making sure that any use of the name was properly licensed and paid.


So, while Disney cashed in on their Pixar brand, the Muppets languished.

Apparently that didn't sit well with Jason Segel, a confessed Muppet fan began a campaign to bring back "The Muppets" in 2007. He finally convince Disney to produce it and in 2008 the concept was announced. The only thing left t0o do was write the story and make the film.


It was a classic case of perfect timing. Segel had just finished starring in two successful films - "Knocked Up" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" - as well as starring in a well rated television show How I Met Your Mother. It gave him leverage to practice that old rule "If you can't talk shit when you're winning, you never can".


So now we have a film starring a guy who was a year old when the original show went off the air and doesn't star any of the original muppeteers (noticeably absent is Frank Oz). And yet... it is wonderful.


But let me categorize the wonderful part. Is it really great or have we just missed the Muppets?

The film centers on itself actually and the history of the Muppets as I just explained them. The Muppets have been idle and scattered about. Kermit is now a recluse living in his mansion filled with nostalgia. Miss Piggie is now the plus-sized fashion editor for Paris' Vogue magazine. Gonzo has become a plumbing executive, Fozzie Bear is a Reno musician, and Animal is institutionalized suffering from anger issues.


When a new Muppet named Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) hears that oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) has found oil under the old muppet Theater and intends to demolish the theater and drill for oil, he springs to action.


He tells his human brother Gary (Segel) and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) that something must be done to save the theater. The three decide to gather up the old Muppets and stage the greatest Muppet Telethon ever so they can raise the $10 million to save the place.


Then we are treated to what we remember about the Muppets. Lots of celebrity cameos (Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Alan Arkin, George Clooney, Mickey Rooney, Mila Kunis, Lady gaga, Danny Trejo, Ben Stiller, Judd Hirsch, Neil Patrick Harris and anyone they could think of) and notable music both new and old (including "The Muppet Show Theme", "The Rainbow Connection" and "Mah Na Mah Na.")


With delightful turns by Amy Adams and childlike awe of Segel, the film is a great walk down memory lane for those of us who remember the show. More importantly, like the show, it kept it's theme timely.


"The Muppets" is a fun nostalgic trip for all ages. Jason Segel does a great job of recapturing the magic of the old Jim Henson show. And of course it has my two favorite characters Statler and Waldorf.   -- GEOFF BURTON