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!
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 .