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After 12 years, there is a new Muppet movie coming to theaters this Thanksgiving. The Muppets, directed by James Bobin (Flight of the Concords), is coming out soon and some trepidation is felt as audiences wait for its release this fall. After the mixed reviews of Muppets in Space, and the general dissatisfaction with the Muppets few T.V. appearances over the last decade or so, audiences are looking for a return to the classic Muppet films. Screenwriters, Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Nicholas Stoller, have promised to deliver.
Because the Muppet franchise was bought by Disney in 2004, many fans have been worried that the clean adult humor would be lost in this latest film. However, Segel wants to remain true to the Muppets and in a recent interview with Total Film Magazine, Segel assures his impending audience that he wants to get back to the feel of the original Muppet films. “It harks back to the late ‘70s, early ‘80s. That’s the Muppets we grew up with.” Segel has stated his passion for this project on numerous occasions, and he knows he is not the only one who wants to see a new Muppet movie that is both funny and is in keeping with Jim Henson’s original vision for the Muppet cast.
The Muppets storyline centers on Muppet Theater from The Muppet Show. Money hungry, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) wants to tear down Muppet Theater so he can make millions off of the oil nestled beneath the building. Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan who just so happens to be a Muppet himself, discovers this fact while vacationing in Los Angeles with his roommate Gary and Gary’s girlfriend Mary. In order to save the theater, they need to raise 10 million dollars, and what better way is there to do that than a telethon fundraiser? As a part of the telethon, they need to get the cast back together, and so they go on a journey across the country to find the Muppet gang. Most of the original cast is back including Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Animal, Fozzie, and, of course, Kermit the Frog. The plotline is a familiar one, but Segel wants to bring the old Muppets to a new generation and he is doing this by reforming an old idea into a brand new film, while still trying to keep that same Muppet magic.
As a part of trying to make this film a success, Bret McKenzie, also of The Flight of the Concords, is writing most of the songs that will be featured throughout the course of the movie. As an artist known for his fun and humorous music, this seems like a good choice for the Muppet franchise. Additionally, Segel has written some of the songs, and some older Muppet music is scheduled to be included as well, such as the classic “The Rainbow Connection”.
In keeping with Segel’s vision of creating a Muppet movie similar to the originals, a number of cameos are set for the film. Artists and actors such as Jack Black, Niel Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Rashida Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, and Danny Trejo are scheduled to be in the film. Bobin was hoping to get Elmo from Sesame Street, but according to Stoller “There’s too much money resting on that guy.” It would have been nice to see a Sesame Street character in the new movie, since the Sesame Street characters appeared in the first three films, but even with the absence of Elmo, there are sure to be numerous funny celebrity appearances.
The question on everyone’s lips is will it be the classic Muppets we all grew up with and love, or will it mirror the failures of recent memory? Only time can tell if this really will be the greatest Muppet movie ever made, or simply another shadow of times past.