Puppeters Give New “Muppets” A Fist

Not everyone is excited about the upcoming $40 million “The Muppets” movie, in fact the original writers and performers of the classic show have expressed deep reservations about it in a fascinating and lengthy article in The Hollywood Reporter

Specific names aren’t quoted, but their concerns are character integrity and the story are being sacrificed by writer/actor Jason Segel and director James Bobin for jokes or convenience. Fozzie’s fart joke in the trailer for instance? “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”.

The script reportedly “creates a false history that the characters were forced to act out for the sake of this movie” said one person. Frank Oz was more damning, previously telling a British paper “I wasn’t happy with the script. 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.”

Yet Segel’s passion for the characters helped get the film made and he wants to “do right by them”, even if the old Muppets pros have concerns that this isn’t as much about reviving the brand as it is Disney wanting to cozy up to Segel – “My biggest hope is that it comes across as a Muppets film and not a Jason Segel film that the Muppets happen to be in.”

Some of them felt the “pervasive attitude on the film was dismissive of those who originated the characters”. In fact it claims a couple of key players, including the performer behind Kermit the Frog, “considered removing their names from the credits” but ultimately didn’t. Despite these concerns, the film has scored strong results in test screenings and actual audience anticipation looks to already be quite high.