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Non-Review Review: The Muppets

It’s interesting to imagine what the reaction in the room must have been after Jason Segal was asked to name his next project, building off the success of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The fast-rising actor and writer could have had his pick of any number of features, and yet he chose to work on a revival of The Muppets. After all, these were a group of characters who had enjoyed a reasonable revival with The Muppets Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island in the early-to-mid-nineties, but had seen their fame quickly eroded with a string of poorly-received television and movie projects. It’s easy to imagine discussions being had about the “relevance” of the Muppets in the era of reality television and pandering television, as the film portrays with a fictional executive portrayed by Rashida Jones. It seemed like there was a lot of weight riding on the project, both for Segal and the studio, and for Jim Henson’s creations themselves.

I think they can all be extremely proud. I think it’s safe to describe the finished product as the best family film of the past year.

Brush with greatness?

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Out With the New: What’s Wrong With A Little Reimagining…?

I have to admit, I’m looking forward to The Muppets. That makes it all the more unfair that I’ll have to wait until 2012 to see it in a cinema – something that breaks my heart just a little bit. However, I’ve been fascinated by some of the discussions generated by the film, particularly with classic “muppet” staff coming out of the woodwork to comment on what they’ve seen of the rebooted muppets so far. Frank Oz has even offered some pretty harsh commentary:

“I wasn’t happy with the script,” he said about his decision to turn down the film. “I don’t think they respected the characters. But I don’t want to go on about it like a sourpuss and hurt the movie.”

There’s been quite a bit of focus around Fozzie the Bear’s “fart shoes” featured in one trailer:

“We wouldn’t do that; it’s too cheap. It may not seem like much in this world of [Judd] Apatow humor, but the characters don’t go to that place,” said one Muppets veteran. Another laments, “They’re looking at the script on a joke-by-joke basis, rather than as a construction of character and story.” Another is even concerned about stepping outside the established mythology saying that the upcoming film “creates a false history that the characters were forced to act out for the sake of this movie.”

I can certainly understand the feeling. However, part of me wonders if we are too concerned with preserving the “integrity”of classic franchises and stories, and if trying to limit the risks taken with them might ultimately be counterproductive.

Driving the franchise to ruin?

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