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Jim Henson's Old Crew Not Pleased with Jason Segel's 'The Muppets'

by
October 21, 2011

The Muppets

There's no doubt that the countless fake trailers leading up to to the release of The Muppets have been some of the best marketing for a film this year. However, apparently there are those who aren't too pleased with the way the film from writers Jason Segel and Nicolas Stoller and director James Bobin. THR has quite an extensive story about some of the veteran members of Jim Henson's old guard from the heyday of everyone's favorite puppets, and they don't seem to think this new film respects the characters they made iconic decades ago. From the humor to some of the plot points, apparently it's just not up to their standards.

Certain Muppets insiders have said that they don't think Segel, Stoller and Bobin have a complete understanding of the characters, or that they merely have forgone some of the "characters' integrity" just for some of the laughs in the script. One of the naysayers comments that, "They're looking at the script on a joke-by-joke basis, rather than as a construction of character and story." An example cited is a fart joke that comes from Fozzie in the most recent trailer, and one of the unhappy party says, "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." Ouch. It's kind of interesting that the criticism goes to that joke, especially since it happens shortly after Kermit the Frog says, "The Muppets have always been about artistic integrity. Not cheap tricks." A joke that seems to fit with the spirit of The Muppets, if you ask me.

Other complaints come in the form of Kermit's status as a mogul, living in a mansion in this film. The rest of the gang is jealous of Kermit's fortune and have broken apart in bitterness. This concept, "creates a false history that the characters were forced to act out for the sake of this movie," complains one of the veterans. Things like this have outraged some of the old performers so much that they thought about removing their names from the credits, but they've since realized that Disney wouldn't care, and have opted not take such a stand and risk hurting the movie.

Really this just sounds like a difference in the taste of humor in the film, while it seems like Segel and company have certainly captured the spirit of these characters, at least judging by the trailers. The argument between many of the members of Jim Henson's old crew has long been about the integrity of the characters and the legacy of Jim Henson versus the idea that Disney is only interested in using the iconic characters to make money. That's always a possibility, but I guess Muppets fans will have to see the film and judge for themselves when it hits theaters on November 23rd. What do you think of all this?

 

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  • Bryan Green
    "An example cited is a fart joke that comes from Fozzie in the most recent trailer, and one of the unhappy party says, "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." Ouch. It's kind of interesting that the criticism goes to that joke, especially since it happens shortly after Kermit the Frog says, "The Muppets have always been about artistic integrity. Not cheap tricks." A joke that seems to fit with the spirit of The Muppets, if you ask me." Interesting you should say that. If you go to Hollywood Studios at Disney World they have "Muppetvision 3D". Kermit says, "Just so you know, we will not be resorting to any cheap 3D tricks." Fozzie says "Cheap 3D tricks?" and then he blows a party horn directly into the camera. That joke is the exact same concept. I think these people are being snobby.
    • Anonymous
      I think they're offended by the act of one of the muppets farting, not the old "say you wouldn't do it, then someone does it" irony jokes. I'm on the fence (about the 'old guards') argument. I honestly don't remember any toilet/bodily function jokes, nor do I remember any bitterness or selling out amongst each other. Then again I only remember the original Muppet Movie, Great Muppet Caper, and Muppets Take Manhattan.
  • Anonymous
    Muppets arent fart-jokie, but then again, it might just be a sign of the times.  I'm not opposed to it.  I want them relevant and funny again. 
  • norm
    The trailer was a pretty dead giveaway that this wasn't going to be classic Muppets, but rather an "updated" trashy movie. Just another sullying of days gone by done by the current flavors of the month in charge. My 4 year old is just getting into the old tv shows and you can be sure I'm not taking her to this crapfest.
    • Anonymous
      This article is blowing everything out of proportion.  This film is not "trashy", you clearly no nothing of the actual plot. By the way, in case you haven't noticed, the original Muppet Show had a very adult sense of humor.
      • norm
        Being one of my favorite shows of all time I did notice the original Muppets had a very adult sense of humor, but it never lowered itself to fart jokes. Just a trend of the current times, sadly.
        • Jules
          What's wrong with fart jokes?  Everybody farts, and farting is funny no matter WHAT pretentious boobs say otherwise.  You just called the movie a crapfest, so apparently you have some bathroom-related vocabulary going on yourself.  Just saying......
  • leemoder
    This "old guard" comes off like a bunch of blue noses at the country club. Child and adult, fart jokes are funny and as old as time itself.  I think the Muppets will survive just fine. And if the Henson company wasn't interested in turning a profit on the Muppets, they shouldn't have had them on the auction block to begin with.  If anyone sold out...it was them.
    • Adam
      Spot on! The old guard is out for a reason, their inabilities to keep the characters relevant with kids put the entire franchise to sleep for the past 10+ yrs. Do the property and yourselves a favor and give the new team a chance to deliver before throwing up your noses.
  • Anonymous
    "Things like this have outraged some of the old performers so much that they thought about removing their names from the credits" I find that to be very fishy. Check out this blog post from a fan who meet some of the Muppet performers who worked on the film, it suggests the contrary; http://themuppetmindset.blogspot.com/2011/08/muppets-and-me-at-d23-part-2.html
  • Craig
    I love Segel. I'll still give it a chance.
  • Anonymous
    i like old coke better then new coke because its old! AND SO AM I! that's all i got out of this
  • Saint Charlatan
    Either way, It's the Muppets. Are they being portrayed as we know them best? HELL no, but Segal hasn't sullied them. Humor is different now, and though we all want to see the Muppets as they used to be, we have to remember that it's still the Muppets. If anyone is to blame for why they are portrayed the way they are now; you either blame the media or whoever created characters like Pepe'. I'm going to give it a chance. As a big Muppet fan, I'm glad to know that they're back with another film (As long as it isn't like Muppets Wizard of Oz, even I couldn't deal with that) Also, remember, Segal has brought back "Rainbow Connection" into another Muppet film. That's all the classic Muppets I need to say that this movie just might be worth watching.
  • Jules
    I say get over it already, they're puppets.  I thought the new Smurf movie blew in comparison to the old cartoons, but who cares?  It's not as if it takes anything away from the old school, so long as they keep selling the originals.  Let's face it, Hollywood is running out of original ideas, so they're revamping all the old stuff.
  • I think I'm gonna see this no matter what anyone says, Me my wife and daughter, we are the target audience. I tell you what is wrong with the movie industry today, to many wannabes, to many experts, to many who think that their say is the last say, everyone goes to pick apart these movies and no one goes just to be entertained, everyone feels that they must prove something by knowing a little bit of info about movies. If one of those people sit anywhere near us, We move who wants or needs all that negativity? Seriously these are the same people who only like a movie if its small or unheard of, it could be a finely polished turd but since no one else knows about it, it has to be gold. Grow up!
  • marvins_mate
    oh dear oh dear. sounds like some people aren't happy there not getting paid!(sour grapes anyone)
    • Anonymous
      Nothing to do with payment. The artists are trying to maintain the dignity of their creations and keep the characters true to the originals. If "updating" the Muppets to you means giving them fart jokes, don't even bother.
  • HAS ANYONE SEEN MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND? OR MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL? IT HAS THE EXACT SAME HUMOR  AS THIS MOVIE HAS GOING FOR IT I THINK PEOPLE CANT EXCEPT CHANGE LOL
  • Coloradofan4ever
    I agree with Most of these comments. I enjoyed the muppets as a child and I took my nephew to see it and my husband and I loved it!
  • Coloradofan4ever
    Love the Muppet 3D at disney!!

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