Have you ever seen Tom & Jerry? Well, of course you have. Who hasn’t? Surely, you remember the wicked-looking, scruffy Tom chasing a cute-little Jerry round and round the house but never being able to catch him. Tom & Jerry could be an easy parallel to the chase between his Company and Jim Henson & Co. – the creators of Muppets. Like Tom tried with Jerry, Disney has made several attempts to acquire the Muppets, the earliest being in 1990. After announcing in 2002, that Disney & Co. was willing to pay $135 million, it finally announced in 2004 that it had bought the rights for Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House.
There are two Muppet movies
Phew! It’s been one long ride for the Muppet gang. And finally, after a well-deserved rest, they’re here with a brand new film called Muppet Movie. The name is almost the same as the first Muppet Movie that was released in 1979, except they dropped the ‘The’.
Well, hope the storyline is new at least.
But why wait for the movie? Let’s compare Henson’s original, the first Muppet Movie with bits about the new movie that Disney has been slowly letting out of its secret chambers.
In Jim Henson’s The Muppet Movie, Kermit the Frog is ‘discovered’ by a Hollywood Agent and is encouraged to pursue a movie career. The movie then goes on to document a starry-eyed Kermit’s journey to Hollywood. Along the way, he meets Fozzie Bear who’s only too happy to join in. Unlike Big Bird, who the duo meet later and offer a ride to Hollywood only to have him snub them by saying that he’s heading to New York to pursue a Television Career. Kermit and Fozzie Bear then meet Dr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem, who along with their manager Scooter, manage to create much Mayhem on the screen. Other Muppets, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and Rowlf all put in excellent performances, making the first Muppet Movie a great watch!
Now, can its Disneyed doppelganger with iPod-sporting Muppets do the same?
Hmmm, not so sure actually.
Jason Segel who has co-written the movie with Nicholas Stoller, has written himself a nice, big chunky role in the film. As the trailers reveal, as if it wasn’t bad enough that Segel is the lead in a ‘Muppets’ film, he also has a love interest, played by Amy Adams. Remember the first Muppet Movie tagline? ‘More Entertaining Than Humanly Possible’? Muppets are adorable and loveable become they’re so un-human like, despite being personified. Do we really need this big Hollywood couple getting in the way of Muppet fun?
Muppets to the rescue
Thankfully, Segel didn’t forget the Muppets. Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear are all in the movie. Along with a new Muppet called Walter who loves the iPhone. Now, we know Disney acquired Pixar, Steve Jobs baby sometime back. And we’re not exactly thrilled with product placements messing up the ‘good-ol times feeling’ Muppets are supposed to evoke in us. And, by the way, this is the second time that Segel is chucking the iPhone at us from the screen. In the Jack Black film, Gulliver’s Travels, that just came out last Christmas, Segel sports a bad English accent and uses a GIANT iPhone.
The worst is yet to come though. The Muppets seem to have legs!! In a poster that many Muppet fans are describing as creepy, Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang are *walking * towards us. With the poster reading, ‘They’re closer than you think’, in a way that makes you want to scream ‘Run’! When Jim Henson created this bunch of quirky, fun and adorable Muppets, they either hid behind tables and other thingymingys or were shot mid-length. The last thing, and we mean, the last thing Muppet fans want to see is Computer Generated (CGI) Muppets.
When Andrew Sandberg had asked Jason Segel in an interview, just after his first draft for The Muppet Movie was done, whether there was going to be ‘CGI shit’ in the movie, Segel had emphatically denied it.
“No, no, no. Hopefully it will fall right in the pantheon of The Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take Manhattan, Muppet Movie, you know, we’re trying to make one of those.”
Possibly, the legs came in later. After all, Disney is known to turn a whole range of animals from mice to ducks to elephants into bipeds!
Sesame Street nostalgia
Either way, The Muppet Movie brings back memories of days when life was simple, innocent and fun. Although Henson created many Muppets, the ones we all remember the best are from Sesame Street, like Big Bird, Slimy the Worm, Grover and Snuffy. Who can forget the song that opened the show, ‘Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?’ and the assurance that everything was going to be ‘a o k’!
With Disney taking over Muppets, Jim Henson’s creations will take on a new meaning is for sure. But fans will love that the legacy of the Muppets will live on, even if, it is in a way that we don’t want it to.
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