Why I’m Looking Forward To The Muppets

The Muppets are honest souls.

And before you point out that they aren’t even real, I argue that point, and say they are, from a certain point of view.

The fact that two, to three people can work together to bring the performance of these characters to life actually gives me hope for society in general. The fact that people can work together for something good, something entertaining, something, well… honest, instills hope in me.

That’s why I am looking forward to The Muppets next Friday.

That and a healthy dose of nostalgia, and love.

I can remember evenings spent in front of the television watching The Muppet Show, and we did it as a family. And we all got something out of it, there are jokes there that were aimed over my childhood head that would make my parents chuckle, and there were gags and pratfalls, and general silliness that entertained me to no end.

I love Kermit, but who doesn’t? He’s the heart and the soul of the muppets, but I always identified most with Fozzie, here’s a bear that goes out and tries hard to be what he wants to be, a comedian, and though Waldorf and Statler may heckle him, it didn’t stop him from going out there week after week and trying to be his best. I still identify with that.

Animal, Waldorf, Statler, Swedish Chef, and Beauregard rounded out my faves, but there seems to be room in my heart for all of them.

I saw both The Muppet Movie, and The Great Muppet Caper in the theater as a child (I still have the Happiness Hotel Bus glass from McDonalds). Both films are still entertaining, as well as the three seasons of The Muppet Show that have been released to DVD. And for sheer special effects magic, I recommend the bicycle scene in The Great Muppet Caper, it’s just brilliant, still!

So, next weekend, I will be off to the theater to see the muppets return to the big screen.

But of course… it’s not without it’s, well I hesitate to use the word controversy, but…

Jim Henson, of course is no longer with us, and he voiced Kermit, and a slew of other popular characters. Frank Oz declined to be involved with the film, and had also retired from his muppet work in general. Between the two of them, they voiced a huge percentage of the cast.

There have been suggestions since then, that perhaps Kermit himself should be retired, or replaced, or sent to the big pond in the sky. But if you took away all the characters that Jim voiced, and all the characters that Frank voiced, well, you wouldn’t have any of the headliners that you associate with the muppets.

So I’m willing to accept that Kermit and others won’t sound exactly the same as I remember, as long as the honesty of their souls remain intact.

Here’s where I get a little more nervous, Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller are the writers. I will flat out tell you, I wasn’t a fan of Forgetting Sarah Marshall or it’s spin-off Get Him To The Greek. On screen I like Segel, I enjoyed him in Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared, he also tends to have fun with his roles. I just hope that translates to Muppet gold.

On the upside, Segel is starring opposite Hollywood sweetheart Amy Adams, which is a huge plus in my book, and like the best muppet moments, there are tons of cameos that I can’t wait to see.

Of course you can’t have a Muppet movie without songs. There are rumors that Rainbow Connection and Bein’ Green make an appearance as well as the classic Mahna Mahna, but there are new songs as well penned by one half of The Flight of The Conchords – Bret McKenzie (that’s a good thing in my books, means the songs should be catchy, and probably funny).

I know the film won’t hold the position of nostalgia held by the original muppets and their adventures on big and small screen, but I’m hoping the new film has the same irreverence, tongue-in-cheek, wink-at-the-audience, honest sense of fun and play that the originals still have to this day.

I can’t wait to see the muppets back on the big screen, and I hope it launches a resurgence of all things muppet-y.

I want to come out of the theater having had a good time, and have that same feeling of love and hope for these characters that I did when I was growing up.

Will it deliver?

I hope so.

But if not, I’ll happily continue to revisit my dear friends on DVD.




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