An update on the new Muppet Movie
by Jason Hughes, posted Jun 9th 2008 1:47PM
I've been waiting for a good Muppet movie for years, it seems. I hearken back to the days of The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, so while Muppet Babies and retelling A Christmas Carol with Muppets is nice and all, I just want me some good old-fashioned classic Muppet antics. So it was with great excitement that I read that the latest Muppet adventure is taking the franchise right back where I loved it. Think of Muppet Movie, Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan as the original Star Wars trilogy. Then someone came along and made a Star Wars Christmas Special and some made-for-TV Ewoks movies, but it just wasn't the same.
Jason Segel and Nick Stoller, who brought us Forgetting Sarah Marshall, are spearheading this Muppet revival and have just turned in their first script. I like the idea of Segel and Stoller doing this movie because they've proven they can do edgy humor. I'm not saying The Muppets should be rated R, but PG or PG-13 even wouldn't be bad for the franchise. The question is if Disney can allow the Muppets to stray from kids-only fare back to their days of being cutting edge and cool. Then put them back on TV in a weekly show like we've been teased about for years!
The new Muppet movie promises to be about the gang getting back together to put on a show and save the studio (hey, that sounds refreshingly familiar actually) and promises to feature all the Muppet heavy-hitters and cameos galore. I just picked up Season Three of the original series (I hope Muppets Tonight gets the DVD treatment eventually, too) and it's just as goofy and entertaining now as it ever was. I can't help but think that under the right guiding hands, The Muppet Show could be revived and as fun and relevant today as it ever was. Just think of all the awesome guests they could have, and the fun they could have ragging on reality television, celebrity antics, paparazzi craziness and the list goes on and on. Muppets Tonight was a pretty good '90s revival, following largely the same format as the original, but it just didn't seem quite as sharp or witty; Kermit has to be the center of it all for it to work.
Hopefully, this new movie can find an audience in today's market and does the Muppets proper justice. So many people forget that those original movies, and even the television show, weren't tailored exclusively for kids. For creator Jim Henson, he had Sesame Street for his kid-oriented material, and The Muppet Show for the rest. In fact, Kermit used to pull double-duty on both, and other Sesame Street characters made appearances on the Muppet shows and the movies. Unfortunately, the two franchises are under different ownership now, so it seems pretty unlikely we'll see Big Bird trying to hitch a ride in the new movie.
I never really understood why Disney felt the need to take the Muppet franchise in the direction they did once they acquired the original rights to it. Disney has plenty of childrens' properties, so why turn the Muppets into just another children's franchise? The original charm of the Muppets was that they lived in "our" world, interacting with people and our environment. Muppets on the subway, or trying to flag a taxi is much funnier than Muppets on a pirate ship to me.
Offering only classic remakes and genre films featuring those characters takes away from what made them work in the first place. I'm not saying never do something like that, but for too many years those films and representations have been the only appearances the Muppets have been making. Kermit and Piggy and all the rest are great because of their established "real" personalities. And as they are all "actors," they can take on these other roles seamlessly, or not so seamlessly to even more humorous results.
And then big screen success can lead to small screen revival. And if they're ever looking for a snarky incredibly handsome television blogger to make a guest appearance on the show, I'm just a bicycle or balloon ride away.