Okay, let’s try this again.
I honestly don’t think I’m spoiling anything to say that Disney has kicked off their campaign for “The Muppets” with a couple of different trailers now, and so far, they’ve made some big strange choices regarding the tone they’re taking with the ads.
The “Green With Envy” trailer that was in theaters last weekend is a bait-and-switch bit that would probably work better if they weren’t cutting around the joke so hard for the first minute-plus. Obviously, “The Muppets” is not a conventional romantic comedy starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams, so trying to find enough footage to make the film look like something it isn’t could not have been easy. The tone of that trailer is tough, too, because I don’t think that’s the tone of the movie.
Now, there’s a second trailer, and the first part of it is obviously trying to evoke the mood of the teaser for “The Hangover Part II.” In doing so, they may be showing us spoiler material out of context, and it’s worth looking at closely. All of the decayed, dusty locations they’re showing in the start of the trailer appear to be inside the iconic Muppet Theater, which has been closed for a while when this new film begins. At some point in the movie, Walter, the new Muppet who you’ll glimpse a few times in this trailer, must succeed in getting the Muppets back to that theater. To what end, though, and what happens inside? That’s still the big question.
The one big smile here is at the end of the trailer, involving a special guest star, but what I’m curious about is Walter as a lead character. Much of this film hinges on the way Adams, Segel, and Walter play as a group, since they’re the ones on the quest to put the Muppets back together. It’s an interesting choice to put a new Muppet character front and center. If he works, that’s great, but if he doesn’t, the audience is going to feel impatient to get to the characters they’re really there to see.
So far, I don’t think these trailers are really selling us the tone of the movie. Because they’re built around specific jokes, parodies of other things, they’re deceptive. Until Disney cuts a real trailer for “The Muppets,” it’s still probably premature to even guess how the film will play. It’s just nice to see these familiar faces onscreen together again, and I sincerely hope the movie works for old and new viewers alike. It can’t just be another exercise in nostalgia, or it will be a disappointment as a movie.
We’ll find out when “The Muppets” opens everywhere November 23, 2011.