The Muppets have already taken Manhattan, so why not take Hollywood?
With Amy Adams and Jason Segel leading the human charge in the film, the newest Muppet movie looks to be as sing-songy and feel-good as ever, with a few emotional moments scattered in.
In "The Muppets," Kermit, Miss Piggy, Beaker, Fozzie Bear and the rest are reuniting in Hollywood when they decide to make a comeback by putting on a live extravaganza. Self-references abound as the Muppets, in reality, make their first appearance in a movie since "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" in 2005.
In the new film, the singing puppets must overcome their hasbeen status to put on the Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever. A cutthroat executive (Rashida Jones) tells an office full of excited Muppets, "I'm gonna shoot straight, you guys aren't famous anymore."
One child even confuses Kermit for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and Kermit goes along with it.
Watch a trailer of the film:
Kermie serves his usual role as story narrator and leader of the boisterous group. He describes human characters Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) as the Muppets' "biggest fans" and when the two discover an evil plot to destroy the Muppet Theater in L.A., they come up with a plan to gather the Muppets for a fundraising reunion show.
But most of the Muppets have moved on and are far-flung across different states and occupations. Fozzie is off in Reno performing with a roughriding casino tribute band called the Moopets, while Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris.
The movie promises all the Muppet classics like enormous choreographed dance numbers, wink-nod jokes and brutal physical comedy like Kermit getting smashed by a door. There are "fart shoes" (made of whoopee cushions rubber-banded to sneakers), car ride sing-alongs and Miss Piggy behaving badly. Human celebrities Chris Cooper, Alan Arkin and Zach Galifianakis root the decades-old jokes in modern times, as do pop culture references like the chorus of chickens singing Cee Lo Green's hit "F*** You."
One of the Muppets' greatest strengths is their timelessness. It helps that they're ageless and that their smiles are nearly permanent, but their honesty, exuberance and loyalty to one another is something that never gets old. Although Miss Piggy has a better, more modern hairstyle in "The Muppets" than she did in 1984's "The Muppets take Manhattan," most of the characters appear otherwise the same.
A musical clip from "The Muppets take Manhattan":
They constantly break the fourth wall, speaking directly to the audience and acknowledging that they are performing in a film. Kermie often directly addresses the viewer and shares knowing glances, while other characters make jokes and look eagerly to the viewer for approval. In an odd way, it makes you feel like you're important to the Muppets.
The Muppets were created in the mid-1950s, and supposedly got their now household name when Jim Henson combined the words marionette and puppet, though other accounts say Henson just liked the way it sounds. Birthing a whole new class of puppetry, the familiar Muppet faces have been a steady presence for over 50 years in TV shows and movies, public appearances and pop culture.
The highly recognizable wide eyes and fleece, fur coating of the characters brand everyone from Rizzo the Rat to Beaker and Sam the Eagle. The Muppets have careened in and out of the public eye, but never remain outside the public consciousness for long. They have worked as presenters at the Academy Awards, been interviewed on 60 Minutes and Kermit even served as the grand marshal of the Rose Parade in 1996.
Just last Saturday, Jason Segel hosted Saturday Night Live and was joined by a cadre of wise-cracking muppets who piped in on the issues of Flomax, flying pigs and the trials of being a Muppet. The Muppets were so excited to be on the show, they took part in an "improptu" sing-along with Segel at the piano and changed the actor's chorus from "I can't believe I'm hosting SNL" to "Yes the Muppets are all hosting SNL." (Kermit goes on to astutely point out that no one cares about the humans in a Muppets movie.)
See the Muppets on SNL:
Will "The Muppets" live up to the hype? They've produced a series of masterful viral marketing ads hyping fake movies before revealing the ads are actually promoting the Muppets, but not everyone is hyped — Muppet behind-the-scenes stalwart Frank Oz, who voiced Miss Piggy for years, refused to appear in the new film after reading the script. You'll be able to find out yourself starting Wednesday.