jason stives, michael dworkis and daniel cohen are movin’ right along, footloose and fancy free …
On the weekend of The Muppets’ first new theatrical release in more than a decade, Pop-Break’s own triple-headed version of Statler and Waldorf raves about why Jim Henson’s creations have and always will be awesome regardless of how their newest incarnation performs this Thanksgiving.
When Jason Segel first announced during publicity for Forgetting Sarah Marshall three years ago that he was looking to bring back The Muppets of old to the big screen, I was ecstatic at the notion. For one, you could tell from Sarah Marshall‘s infamous Dracula puppet musical scene that Segel believed in the amusing details of puppeteering. The other is that one of the best parts of my childhood was going to be given new light after years of squandering through pointless themed films.
The Muppets were a very important cornerstone in my childhood, right behind the fine folks of the Walt Disney Company and Nickelodeon. In fact, little known and uninteresting Jason Stives fact — The Muppets Take Manhattan was one of my favorite childhood films growing up along with The Lion King and Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm. The Muppet Babies was also one of my treasured cartoons as a child, and I watched it continuously in reruns until Nickelodeon stopped airing them in the mid-’90s. But why were The Muppets so loved and still are on the eve of their return to the big screen?
One of the fundamental things that I believe is missing from children’s entertainment in this day and age is that they don’t treat their audience as equals. The Muppets, much like Sesame Street only a few years before it, has always made an effort to teach kids about life and its impending lessons but still allowing the enjoyment of being a kid. Jim Henson normally attempted this through song rather than bargaining a whole episode to a single cause, and this is made obvious by songs like “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” and “The Rainbow Connection.” Look at how the Henson Creature Workshop handled their creator’s death in 1990. As detailed in an awesome article about how children’s film and television handle death at AV Club.com, the video below of the gang learning of Henson’s death (whom they don’t actually know directly) is remarkably touching, and as I get older, far more emotional than I remember it to be.
The world of The Muppets has always been bright and shiny with laughter and fun. That sounds very cheesy, I know, but it’s things like The Muppets that have always kept the essence of being a child alive. Between the first three Muppet films and the TV show, you had a world of shtick and performance. The Muppet Show in particular was such a Hollywood showcase in its own right and was so old fashion that it’s timeless. It was a Styrofoam vaudeville, where the cast took pies to the face, dropped scenery on each other and indulged in song-and-dance routines. Don’t believe that notion? Look at the cavalcade of people who have guested alongside The Muppets over some 35 years both in film and television. This new Muppet film has that same benefit, and realistically you know the involvement of people like George Clooney and Lady Gaga are not for a paycheck (they could pick other movies to cameo in to do that) — they genuinely LOVE The Muppets.
I always laugh at how ridiculous Jason Segel seems to look in all the promos and posters for this movie and it’s mainly because he is really THAT excited about The Muppets coming back in their truest form. The rest of the world seems to really believe in The Muppets too, and I for one can’t wait to see them in theaters this week.
If you don’t like The Muppets, you’re just a bitter human being. No matter how old you are, whether it’s two, or 80 years of age, The Muppets kick all sorts of ass. I think Homer Simpson described them best when asked by Lisa:
Lisa: Dad, what’s a Muppet?
Homer: Well … it’s not quite a mop, and it’s not quite a puppet, but man [laughs] … so to answer your question, I don’t know.
Why do I like The Muppets so much? Well, there are just so many eclectic personalities to choose from. I can go with oddball Gonzo, the wild man Animal, or just stick with the leader and heart of The Muppets, Kermit the Frog.
Oh, and did I mention they are fricking hilarious? And with the new movie coming out, I’ve been reminded of just how funny they are. If you’ve been going to AMC movie theaters recently, I’m sure you’ve seen their ‘no talking or texting’ spot. All of the characters have their moments, and they managed to make me laugh with one line or action, such as Fozzie with his banana phone, or the classic grumpy duo of Statler and Waldorf.
My fondest memory of The Muppets is the original 1979 Muppet Movie. To this day, I still tap my feet to “Movin’ Right Along,” one of the greatest songs ever written. And when Kermit tells Fozzie to turn left at the fork in the road, and they come across a giant fork…well, that’s just brilliant. I also love the follow up, the Great Muppet Caper (1981). The Happiness Hotel … awesome! Although, I must admit, the funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed in regards to The Muppets is from the original show, when Animal plays drums as Rita Moreno tries to sing ‘Fever.’ That was comedy legend.
Now unfortunately, everything after the Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) hasn’t been great. It’s not that it’s been bad though. I even tolerated Muppets from Space (1999). That’s how much I love The Muppets, alright! But The Muppets have been mediocre at best the last two decades, and they deserve better. As much as I’m looking forward to this new Muppet movie, I’m just not as excited as I should be.The parody trailers suck, I’m sorry. And the plot just feels lackluster. They try and save their theater from an oil tycoon … eh.
But what concerns me most, is it just feels like this film is going to be nothing but homage to classic bits. For example, in the trailer they are listening to Mahna Mahna in the car…that’s the stuff that concerns me. Look, I can see the classic stuff on my own time. I want a new, but great, Muppet adventure: Not a concoction of recycled bits.
I hope I’m dead wrong, and the new Muppet Movie blows me away, believe me. I guess I sound like Statler and Waldorf, but even if this movie disappoints, so be it. My memory of The Muppets will never be tarnished.
What was the last Muppets movie? Sorry, the question should be:
When was the last good Muppets movie?
I’ll explain. The last theatrical release was in 1999, with Muppets From Space. The film features a government agency trying to kidnap Gonzo to prove aliens exist. The film heavily stresses feelings of loneliness from Gonzo. This seems silly as he is featured as a main cast member of The Muppets. So goes the plot of the film, where finally it is revealed that Gonzo is an alien, a UFO filled with his brethren arrive to take him home, only for Gonzo to realize his home is on Earth with his friends. Cameos are rampant in the film, even one from Hulk Hogan who for some reason is allowed to dish out an nWo catchphrase.
The film bombed, being rushed into post-production and running up against little-known films like Runaway Bride, the South Park movie, and something called Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
This brings us to 2011. Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother) and Nicholas Stoller (who directed Segal in Forgetting Sarah Marshall) bring us a story where a muppet named Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), his brother Gary (Segal) and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) band together to save the Muppet Theatre from being torn down and turned into an oil drilling station from Tex Richman. I love it already. It is an old school campy plot with a goofy-named villain. The story is how they find Kermit and reunite The Muppets from all parts of the world to raise $10 million in order to save the landmark theatre.
Widespread promotion has been underway for some time with various trailers and television commercials being aired. Promotion went as far as guest appearances by various Muppet characters on WWE Monday Night Raw. Kermit found a bag over his head courtesy of Cody Rhodes while Beaker helped fan-favorite Santino defeat antagonist Jack Swagger while Statler and Waldorf contributed commentary.
I am already excited. This has classic Muppets written all over it. It is about time too. The last Muppet outing was a poor attempt to cater to pop-culture. This time around, the PG-rated film is anticipated to deliver a real feeling of Muppet lore. With 32 known cameos from the likes of Ricky Gervais, Neil Patrick Harris, Mickey Rooney, George Clooney, and even Lady Gaga, this film might be the greatest Muppet release in the past decade.
This finally looks like the film all fans of The Muppets have been waiting for.