Jim Henson's Old Crew Not Pleased with Jason Segel's 'The Muppets'
by Ethan Anderton
October 21, 2011
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?