« Walt and the Promise of Progress City: a Review | Main | New Year's Resolutions »

What Would Jim Think?

I have heard reports that Disney's latest movie, “The Muppets” cost the Walt Disney Company some $30 million dollars or so to produce. After seeing the movie I am convinced that investment may have been one of the wisest decisions the company has made in years.

Where do I begin? The screenplay, written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller was topnotch, with classic comedic touches only found when the Muppets are present.

Without giving too much away, allow me to give you a taste of what this long overdue movie had for its audience.

The premise is that Jason Segal's twin brother Walter is pretty much the Muppet's number one fan and Jason and his girlfriend, Mary, played by Amy Adams, decide to go on a trip to Hollywood and take Walter with them for a tour of the Muppet Studios.

What they find is a broken down shell of what once was and the rest of the movie is devoted to the need to get the Muppet gang together to save the theater and the Muppet name from the clutches of a greedy oil tycoon, Tex Richman, portrayed deliciously by Chris Cooper…remember this line, “Maniacal laugh!”

If you think you can predict how this adventure ends, well guess again because Segel and Stoller's screenplay talents not only make for an entertaining and hilarious journey throughout the movie, but also treats us to a very satisfying and not so expected ending.

There are surprises throughout the movie, and I am not here to start listing the spoilers, but needless to say, I am not the only person who will say, “I need to see that movie again, because I may have missed something.”

The movie has a very contemporary feel to it, with the musical and cameo components inserted in just about the most perfect spots.
I don't know what it is about Muppet songs, but for some reason, all the songs in this film work amazingly well. I found myself tapping my foot to the songs and not wanting them to end.

There is one song that got a huge reaction by the audience, and it was because of the cameo that came with the song. When you see the film, you will know what I mean…heck I would see the film again just to be there to witness the audience's reaction again.

The only criticism I have is that one song seemed rushed, and I wanted it to last longer and build more, but the song did manage to bring a tear to my eye and others in the theater as it will make you think of Muppet creator Jim Henson…you will understand once you see the movie.

Steve Whitmire (Kermit, Beaker, Statler, and Rizzo) is a treasure as a Muppett performer and he seems to be channeling Jim Henson throughout the movie.

The other Muppet performer that receives kudos is Eric Jacobson who brings personality to Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, and Marvin Suggs. Jacobson did Frank Oz proud.

There is so much to say about this movie that I would be at fault not to mention the number of celebrity cameos throughout, some of which drew some incredible reaction from the crowd with whom I watched the movie.

In some cases the celebrity cameos were appearances and some were by voice only…either way once I realized there would be sight gags and a celebrity cameo possibly waiting around every corner, my ears and ears were glued to the screen. My guess is that there were at least 30 to 35 cameos throughout the film, and I may have missed some along the way.

This movie, no doubt, is a great investment by Disney and as I left the theater two thoughts crossed my mind.

The first was my questioning Disney's partnership with James Cameron and the Avatar land project and why not instead, invest in a proven product like the Muppets, who have been around for generations (I watched the film with my daughter and grandson). With so many characters and so much material, it would have been a no-brainer to create a Muppet land in Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios theme park and in the California Adventure theme park in Anaheim.

The proof is in the pudding…fans are flocking to the theaters to see this film…there was a line forming almost one hour before this film, and that line had Muppet fans of all ages with middle aged men wearing Beaker shirts and teenagers with Animal shirts on as well…when was the last time you saw a “Na'vi” shirt?

My reaction to the film, along with the chatter as the crowd left the auditorium, convinced me that if I was in charge and, assuming I had a choice to put my efforts into either a Muppet land or Avatar land, that my head and my heart would lean towards those fuzzy, friendly puppets who have been in our lives for years.

Oh, and that other thought that was swimming around in my head as I left the theater was, “What Would Jim think?”

We know that wherever he is…he's smiling!

Henson.jpeg

The previous post in this blog was Walt and the Promise of Progress City: a Review.

The next post in this blog is New Year's Resolutions .

Comments (15)

Kate:

I completely agree with your review and especially about the Avatar/Muppet comparison. I haven't seen Avatar, so maybe I don't get it, but I couldn't care less about that expansion. I definitely think a Muppet land would be fantastic, though! It would appeal to multiple generations, like you said. I thought it was great that my mom, sister, niece and I all went together and loved the movie equally. Great review!

* * * * *

Thanks Kate.

I'm sure the average person on the street has seen the Muppets but not Avatar.

Mike

I've seen the film and I'm afraid I don't know what two songs you're referencing. I was excited for a cameo that came in the middle of a song, but no one else in my theater seemed to care, so I don't know if you mean that one or not.

Regardless I really loved the film too and I hope it does mean we get to see a lot more of the Muppets going forward, either at the parks or anywhere else.

* * * *

Angie,

I don't want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to see the film. I DO mean that song with THAT cameo and everyone in the theater reacted to it.

There was a song towards the end, a famous Muppet song that I thought should have gotten a bit more attention.

Still enjoyed them both.

Mike

Charlie Gessner:

Mike -- I could not agree more with your entire blog. The movie was a delight and the audience that I saw the film with was whooping it up as well during the cameo appearances!

Your thoughts about a Muppetland in Hollywood Studios is also something that the powers-that-be at Disney should pay attention to. Update the 3D film and get a ride developed in this park to take advantage of this classic series/movie with classic characters that a whole new generation of fans will love!

Great post!!

* * * * *

Thanks Charlie...one would have thought that such a project would have surfaced many years back.

Mike

Kirsten Stark:

Thank you for your blog Mike. I would never have thought of a muppet land expansion because I am not very creative, but being a visitor to muppet vision practically every time I visit DHS, I think that would be a wonderful idea. They could have a roller coaster or just a dark ride with a vehicle shaped like a station wagon and go through some memorable scenes from the muppet show and movies.

I also saw the muppet movie and I agree with your comments. I particularly felt nostalgic during the song with fog :)

* * * *

Hi Kristen,

I'm sure that sooner or later you would have a Muppet land vision pop into your brain...it would be inevitable.

Mike

Betsy:

Mike - great post! I loved the film as well - it got me more excited than usual to come home and immediately watch a Muppet Christmas Carol (a cinematic masterpiece if there ever was one).

One thing that really stood out to me when I went to see the Muppets last week was the variation in ages of everyone in the theater. Every group (including ours, and it sounds like yours too) consisted of such a wide range of ages. It made me smile thinking how that's exactly what Walt Disney wanted when he set out to build his parks - an experience the entire family can enjoy together. The Muppets completely encompass this. I haven't seen Avatar but I can't imagine it has the same effect.

Our group of 10 family members ranging in age from 16 to 77 had a fabulous time with the Muppets. Only the 16 year old has seen Avatar.

* * * *

Betsy I think you've pretty much made my case for me. Muppet Land...wide audience...Avatar Land, narrow audience.

Mike

Heather Macdonald:

Thanks for the great blog once again Mike! I'm going to see the movie on Thursday and will certainly be keeping my eyes and ears open for those special moments. I feel like I grew up with the Muppets and I'm so glad I'll be able to put on my Kermit The Frog T shirt and see them on the big screen again.

I completely agree with your thoughts about Muppetland. I love the movie at DHS but it's feels to me like it could use a little TLC and I'm hoping that the movie will mean a return of more muppet merchandise to the Muppet Store at DHS. That store has been completely taken over by random Disney stuff.

* * * * *

Heather,

My thoughts are that the popularity of this movie will show just how marketable, or how much more marketable the Muppets are and one would hope that Muppet store has more Muppet merchandise today than it had a few months back.

Mike

Jeff Finger:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the great review. I have not had a chance to see the movie yet, but I can't wait to go (hopefully this weekend). I completely agree that Disney could and should do more with the Muppet brand. Hopefully the draw of this movie will show that to the powers that be.

* * * *

I hope you're right Jeff.

Patty:

Mike,

I can't wait to see the movie with my kids!

Although I love the idea of a Muppetland at Disney, I can't imagine the lawyers would let that happen. The large aquarium theme park nearby has the Sesame Street Muppets: Big Bird, Cookie Monster, etc. Up north, they run a small theme park completely based on the PBS Show.

Andrea:

I agree 100% with your review and your idea of expanding on the Muppets at Hollywood Studios. Our group ranged from my 6 year old who was only familiar with the muppets through Elmo and Muppet Vision 3D at Hollywood Studio, to my 85 year old Mom who knew muppets from watching her five children grow up watching them. And of course, me, at 46, wearing my Electric Mayhem shirt in honor of my beloved Animal! The movie was wonderful and had us all laughing and grinning. My kids are already askin to see it again and we KNOW we will be purchasing it when it comes on dvd!

Adam:

Great article about a great movie! Jim would indeed be smiling. I went with my 6 year old and the rest of my extended family. We cheered at the end of the movie and all talked about how we need to see it again. Disney has done a great job with promoting this movie especially through social media. The different trailers and shorts that they created were a joy to watch and just made me more excited to see the movie. My daughter loved them so much that on our trip to WDW in the beginning of October that the first thing she was wanted to do was do the muppet vision 3d. You hit the nail on the head. It has a wide audience. And one that will keep growing and will maintain over the years. they are not going anywhere.

Stacey:

I saw the movie and I loved every minute of it. The Muppets are truly timeless. EVERYONE loves the Muppets. Avatar is a fad. I haven't seen the movie and in 10 years neither will a new generation of people coming to Disney World. So why waste that money on something people won't remember??

* * *

Stacey...you must be reading my mind.

Sue:

I agree about the timeless appeal of the Muppets. My "kids" of 30, expecting her first child, and 24 with his girlfriend went to see the movie the first chance we could. We loved it! These two must see Muppets 3D on every visit, and if they miss the pre-show will go back just to watch it. When my daughter was young the Muppet Show was on TV every night at 7 pm, so that started her love of the Muppets.
Their favorite movie is "The Great Muppet Caper", and we must watch "Muppets Christmas Carol" every December. When Jim Henson was alive there was a plan for a whole Muppet land planned for MGM Studios. It is time to re-visit that plan.

Vanessa Gordon:

I have a Kermit that was my HS gymnastic team's Mascot back in 1979. A Seseame Street crew member took it to work and had it autographed for me, I expected it to say Jim Henson since that is who I asked to sign it, instead he signed "Kermit the frog". The "g" in frog has an elaborate curl....I have never seen Kermit's signature anywhere and have always wondered who really signed my frog....Was it really Jim ? I know he was there during that week of production....Do you know anyone to ask ? I also cried alot during the movie. I was a huge fan and had just recovered from pneumonia when I found out he had died from it...Steve Whitmire did a fantastic job, and yes must have been channeling Jim....Thank You !

* * * * *

Vanessa the only thing I can suggest is for you to search for a Jim Henson signature as Kermit and compare.

Please let me know if/when you find out.

Mike

Mala:

I have not seen the movie but I completely agree about the Muppet Land reference. EVERYONE in my family has seen a muppet movie and enjoyed each one....but only my 13 yr old liked Avatar.

I loved the movie, it was spectacular. I couldn't help but singing along to "Mahna Mahna", and tapping my toes to the rest of the songs. (One of the cameos was awesome, but I don't want to give any spoliers!) My friend and I who are big Muppets fans had high expectations, but they were definitely surpassed. I totally agree with the idea with a "Muppet Land". Maybe they could expand at Hollywood Studios, and put in a few rides or something. I mean, Avatar is good, but nothing compares to the Muppets.

Post a comment

(All comments must be approved before they appear on the entry.)


Return to Blog Central

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 28, 2011 7:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Walt and the Promise of Progress City: a Review.

The next post in this blog is New Year's Resolutions .

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.