The Notable Films of 2011: Part Nine

The Muppets

Opens: November 23rd 2011
Cast: The Muppets, Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones
Director: James Bobin

Summary: A couple and their friend Walter reunite The Muppets, now retired entertainers known for the same Muppet show we know them from, to save the TV studio that the original show was shot in from a Texan oil baron bent on drilling for oil underneath it.

Analysis: With so many franchises being rebooted after years of languishing either dead or in endless sequel obscurity, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that The Muppets are attempting a comeback of their own. It has been a decade since their last theatrical outing, 1999’s “Muppets from Space”, fizzled with critics and at the box-office. In the interim, Disney purchased the Muppets brand in 2004 and have let it slowly rot as it churned out several unremarkable telefilms with the characters.

Things began to change in 2008 when Nick Stoller and actor Jason Segel pitched a concept for a new theatrical film with Jim Henson’s creations, a pitch the studio liked and assigned the pair to pen a script for. While most films tend to keep their production phase quite secret, those involved here have been surprisingly open about this with Segel in particular bringing up the project and talking about it many interviews. At the time it was going by the title “The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time”.

The film really began to pick up steam in January last year when “Flight of the Conchords” co-creator James Bobin was drafted as director and planned on adding some musical elements to the project – a fantastic bit of news considering those were the best bits of the acclaimed comedy. The project was formally announced in March with work on Walter, the major new Muppet character for the film, already underway. After meeting with the Pixar people for some script fine tuning, shooting got underway in October.

In the last few months the talk has mostly surrounded the raft of celebrity cameos expected to pop up throughout the film alongside the four main human lead roles listed above. At last report the likes of Alan Arkin, Jack Black, Billy Crystal, Lady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, Ricky Gervais, Donald Glover, Dave Grohl, Kathy Griffin and Jean-Claude Van Damme are all expected to make short appearances. There was some speculation as to who would voice Walter, with puppeteer Peter Linz ultimately scoring the part.

The big question now is of interest and whether older audiences still care about these characters and younger audiences have any interest in getting to know them. The film opens in a crowded Thanksgiving holiday break against two big budget CG-animated family films, the first part of “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” which will easily dominate the box-office, and the threat of Scorsese’s family fantasy “Hugo Cabret” and Fox’s third “Alvin and the Chipmunks” film 2-3 weeks later.

While Kermit, Miss Piggy and the like have remained in the cultural zeitgeist, it would be grand to see a whole new generation embrace the likes of Beaker, The Swedish Chef, Animal, and Statler and Waldorf. With the might of Disney’s marketing power behind it, we might just luck out on that front.

The Complete Notable Films of 2011 Guide

Part One: 5 Days of August, 11-11-11, 13 Assassins, 30 Minutes or Less, Abduction, The Adjustment Bureau, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Albert Nobbs, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Amigo, Anonymous, Apollo 18, The Apparition, Arthur, Arthur Christmas, Atlas Shrugged: Part One, Bad Teacher, Barney’s Version, Battle: Los Angeles, Beastly

Part Two: The Beaver, Beginners, Bel Ami, Bernie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, The Big Year, Black Gold, Blackthorn, The Black Tulip, Blitz, Born to Be a Star, The Borrower Arrietty, Bridesmaids, Brighton Rock, Butter, The Cabin in the Woods, Caesar: Rise of the Apes, Captain America: The First Avenger, Cars 2

Part Three: Catch .44, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Cedar Rapids, Ceremony, Certified Copy, Chalet Girl, The Change-Up, Clean Skin, The Cold Light of Day, Cold Weather, Colombiana, Conan the Barbarian, The Conspirator, Contagion, The Convincer, Coriolanus, Courageous, Cowboys and Aliens, Crazy Stupid Love, The Cup

Part Four: Damsels in Distress, A Dangerous Method, The Darkest Hour, The Debt, The Deep Blue Sea, The Descendants, The Details, The Devil’s Double, Dibbuk Box, The Dilemma, Dolphin Tale 3D, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Dream House, Drive, Drive Angry 3D, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, The Eagle, Even the Rain, Every Day, Everything Must Go, The Eye of the Storm

Part Five: The Factory, Fast Five, The Fields, Final Destination 5, Flypaper, Footloose, Friends with Benefits, Friends with Kids, Fright Night, From Prada to Nada, The Future, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gnomeo and Juliet 3D, Goon, The Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Griff the Invisible, The Guard, Guns Girls and Gambling, Hall Pass

Part Six: The Hangover: Part Two, Hanna, Happy Feet 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, Haywire, A Heartbeat Away, The Help, Henry’s Crime, HERE, Higher Ground, Hobo with a Shotgun, Homework, Hop, Horrible Bosses, The Housemaid, House of My Father, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Hugo Cabret, The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, The Hunter

Part Seven: I Am Number Four, I Melt With You, The Ides of March, Immortals, The Impossible, In A Better World, Incendies, The Innkeepers, Insidious, Intruders, In Your Hands, Ironclad, Jack and Diane, Jack and Jill, Jane Eyre, Jeff Who Lives At Home, Johnny English Reborn, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Jumping the Broom, Just Go With It, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Part Eight: Kaboom, The Killer Elite, Killer Joe, Kill The Irishman, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Lady, Larry Crowne, Last Night, The Ledge, Life in a Day, Like Crazy, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, Little Birds, A Little Bit of Heaven, Little White Lies, Live With It, London Boulevard, The Loneliest Planet, Love and Bruises, The Lucky One

Part Nine: Machine Gun Preacher, Mad Bastards, Man on a Ledge, The Man with the Iron Fist, Margin Call, Mars Needs Moms!, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Mechanic, Meek’s Cutoff, Melancholia, Midnight in Paris, The Mill and the Cross, Miral, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Moneyball, The Monk, Monte Carlo, Mother’s Day, Movie 43, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Muppets

Part Ten: My Idiot Brother, My Week with Marilyn, Neds, New Year’s Eve, No Strings Attached, Now, Of Gods and Men, On the Road, One Day, One for the Money, Oranges and Sunshine, The Other Woman, Paranormal Activity 3, Passion Play, Paul, Peace Love and Misunderstanding, Peep World, Perfect Sense, Piranha 3DD, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Priest, Project X

Part Eleven: Prom, Puss in Boots, Rampart, Rango, The Raven, Real Steel, Red Dawn, Red Dog, Red Riding Hood, Red State, Red Tails, Restless, Retreat, Rio, Route Irish, The Rum Diary, Safe, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Salvation Boulevard, Say Nothing

Part Twelve: Scream 4, A Serbian Film, Serge Gainsbourg: A Life Heroic, Shame, Shaolin, Shark Night 3D, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Shelter, The Silent House, The Sitter, The Skin That I Inhabit, Sleeping Beauty, The Smurfs, Snabba Cash, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Snowtown, Soldiers of Fortune, Something Borrowed, Son of No One, Soul Surfer

Part Thirteen: Source Code, Space Battleship Yamato, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, Straw Dogs, Submarine, Sucker Punch, Super, Super 8, Take Shelter, Take This Waltz, Ten Year, There Be Dragons, The Thing, The Three Musketeers, This Means War, This Must Be The Place, Thor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tower Heist