February 9, 2010


Fast on the heels of the very welcome news that James Bobin of Flight of the Conchords has officially signed to direct Disney’s new Muppet movie, now comes early word via the Playlist of what the script looks like, and for Muppets fans (of which I’m certainly one) it mostly seems to be good news.

The movie, once known as The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made, is now actually known as The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made, so no matter how tongue-in-cheek that may be, co-writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller had better deliver. Here’s what the Playlist’s source had to say about the plot synopsis:

The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time is about Gary, Mary, and Walter (a man, his girlfriend, and the man’s life-long nondescript, brown puppet best friend) getting the old Muppet gang – now retired entertainers known for the same Muppet show we know them from – together to save the TV studio that the original show was shot in. A villain, Tex Richman (nice name, on par with Doc Hopper), bent on drilling for oil underneath the studio, is due to take over the studio in weeks, and the only way to stop him? Putting on a show that draws ten million viewers (see also “Heartbroken: The Conan O’Brien Story”).

Sounds suspiciously and thankfully an awful lot like what the Muppets used to get up to every week on TV when I was a youngun, so that’s all good to me. And what’s even better? How about a video of Beaker doing his obviously unique meeming of Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind”? Hit the jump for that and more details about the new Muppet movie in the works.

the_great_muppet_caper_dvd.jpgAs I said before, I appreciate the nod in structure to what made the Muppets so great when I was a kid, even if it does lack originality. The lucky chap who got to read the script and gabbed about it to the Playlist, however, was less impressed. Here’s more of what he or she had to say.

“It’s a solid attempt at recapturing what made The Muppet Show and the first two Muppet movies so great, but The Great Muppet Movie of All Time is no Great Muppet CaperCaper being to the first Muppets film, what The Empire Strikes Back is to Star Wars – but it is a fresh, younger approach. Stoller and Segel have fun with the characters, are aware of what made the Muppet early years so great (winks to the audience, friendly musical numbers, single gag repetition, friendship and togetherness being the answer to everything), and hit the mark 65% of the time. We’re hoping the songs (the majority of which were missing from the script) help elevate the script from a harmless Muppet flick to a more memorable one, but there’s more work to be done first. But what their script lacks (oddly enough, this being a Muppet movie and all) is forward pulse. The Muppet Movie is about a frog’s drive to get to Hollywood and the people he meets along the way and the friendships he makes.”

I’ll buy all that, but just the mention of The Empire Strikes Back really intrigues me, because if this movie works at all, I and certainly many other people will want to see at least a Muppet trilogy from these guys, so I’ll take a capable Muppet movie in the classic vein, with hopes of their own Empire to come. And as far as the songs go, I haven’t heard any of them, but anyone who’s seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, also written by Segel and Stoller, knows that what they already delivered at the end of that flick with the blissfully silly Dracula puppet musical shows they at least have the right spirit for this.

And if you’re craving Muppet music right away, the world is certainly a better place because the Muppets have their own YouTube channel in it. Their superfun take on “Bohemian Rhapsody” was a big Internet hit earlier this year, and now here’s a brief clip of Beaker attempting to sing Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind.” Enjoy, and let us know whether or not you think the new Muppet movie is “Movin’ Right Along” in the right direction.

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