I can’t help myself. I’m Muppet Mad at this point.
You’ll see for yourself in a very few days, and when you do, I’m willing to bet that if you’ve ever loved The Muppets, you’ll find yourself utterly defenseless when the film comes out.
For example, there’s the music. There are a few classic callbacks, including a freakshow casino jingle version of the “Rainbow Connection” that is sort of amazing, and it’s nice to hear those old faves again. The new material, though, is just as strong, which is a really welcome thing. This is fun movie music, smart and funny and sweet, and even something as potentially terrible as Chris Cooper rapping in character as an evil billionaire named Tex Richman works on repeat listens.
But what the Muppets ultimately gets right is the characters, and recognizing what made them icons in the first place. And they are. They really are. Anyone underestimating the deeply-seeded love that many people have for these characters hasn’t seen it close up. Jason Segel just recently signed up for Twitter, and in the first day or so of having his account, he told the story of a guy in his 40s who had a breakdown during an interview with Kermit in Mexico City, and the guy just started to hug Kermit while crying and mumbling in Spanish, and everyone except Jason got weirded out.
Jason gets it, though. He gets that people have these big reactions to these characters, and that there’s something magic when they’re played properly. Director James Bobin gets it. Totally. And I give a huge amount of respect to Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, and Peter Linz, who do such a great job of bringing back to life these characters who have been neglected for a while now, and bringing them back to life in a very knowing, very loving way. There is such affection for them bursting out of the movie that it’s infectious.
Running all these parody campaigns has just been fun for them, I think. They’ve enjoying taking the big familiar Muppet personalities and playing on your knowledge of them to pay off the parody jokes. They’ve been really good about just being playful as they’ve done each of these. Today, these three posters for “The Muppet Saga” showed up in my inbox…
… of course it’s Piggy as Bella. Why wouldn’t it be?
And, yes, Kermit has to be Edward. But who do you put in a romantic triangle with Kermit the Frog? Who’s Jacob?
Oh. Jim Henson’s other hand. Freud would have a field day with that one.
I like that Kermit and Rowlf aren’t even the same performer anymore, as they were when Henson played both characters. The new Muppet players are about the right guy for each character, and not just imitation of what came before, and it’s felt to me through this entire campaign that Disney has finally embraced the idea that the way you make the Muppets new is by not doing anything to them at all. Just leave them exactly the same. They are The Muppets. They are timeless. They are eternally defined by the dynamics we already know, and that’s what makes them great.
“The Muppets” will conquer the world beginning November 23.