Co-writer/star Jason Segel has proclaimed loud and long to the media of his abiding affection for the characters, but The Muppets is the proof. He not only “gets” them, but he knows how to recapture what made them great. Segel and writing partner Nicholas Stoller find their surrogate in Walter (performed by Peter Linz), the Muppets’ biggest fan — and also, though he seems completely unaware of it, a Muppet himself. When he and his devoted brother Gary (Segel) take a trip to California with Gary’s long-time girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), they learn that ruthless developer Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is planning to tear down the old Muppet Theater to drill for oil. Scant days remain to raise $10 million to save the place, which means it’s time to find a now-retired Kermit (Steve Whitmire) and try to reunite the fuzzy crew for a benefit telethon variety show. The resulting plot is a mix of the road-trip flavor of the first Muppet Movie, Andy Hardy-style “let’s put on a show” musicals, and the “we’re putting the band back together” premise of The Blues Brothers. For 97 minutes, The Muppets sends out wave after wave of puns, broad visual gags, self-referential asides, and genuine warmth — and nearly every last bit of it works. It might work best of all in the musical numbers, which are inspired both as catchy songwriting and as showcases for brilliant humor. As Kermit suggests near the end of The Muppets, maybe you don’t need to have everybody love you, as long as one person does. Jason Segel loved the Muppets enough to give them a showcase that’s a clucking masterpiece.