The Muppets Are Back

Agnes Constante, El Vaquero Guest Writer

Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Kermit, and the gang are back after a 12-year hiatus in "The Muppets," which opens in theaters nationwide today.

The thought of chickens clucking musically to Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You” might seem a bit ridiculous, but it’s one of the many humorous moments in the new Muppets movie, which opens in theaters today.

Directed by James Bobin, “The Muppets” follows the journey of Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang after a long hiatus to stop oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, “The Kingdom,” 2007) from destroying the Muppet Theater to drill for oil.

When Richman refuses to simply give it back, the Muppets reunite to hold a telethon fundraiser to save their beloved theater. They’re also helped by their biggest fan Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), his brother Gary (Jason Segel, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” 2008), and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams, “The Fighter,” 2010).

With the long absence of the Muppets, it was Segel who pushed forward for this most recent Muppets film. In addition to starring in the movie, Segel also helped write the screenplay.

“I realized at some point that there was a generation gap,” he said. “Last month it was 12 years ago, so kids 0 to 12 by definition have grown up without a Muppet movie in their lives.

“Comedy goes in cycles and we’ve arrived at a very cynical stage of comedy and the Muppets, their style of comedy is so pure and so kind that I though it’s important that kids have that influence in their lives.”

The film succeeds in incorporating clean humor that will have audiences of all ages laughing.

But like in any movie, there were challenges in the creation of “The Muppets.” For the producers, the biggest obstacle was that neither David Hoberman or Todd Lieberman had made a Muppet movie before.

“We had to get it right and we had to try to appeal to both a general audience and a family audience because that’s what Henson used to do with the movies and how he conceived it,” Hoberman said.

In addition to humor, another aspect making “The Muppets” an entertaining watch is the carefully selected and composed music. A number of catchy tunes (many of which are bound to get stuck in viewers’ heads) are placed throughout the film. Comic relief is also characteristic of some of the tracks.

Celebrity cameos are also a nice addition to the movie, and because the Muppets franchise is so popular, it wasn’t too challenging to get stars to take part in the film.

“A lot of people came to us,” Segel said. “We didn’t have to make that many outgoing calls. People were really excited at the chance to work with the Muppets and especially comedians love the Muppets, and people with kids, too …”

Some appearances include Selena Gomez and Jack Black, along with a few other surprise guests.

“I think … everyone [who participated in the project] knew there was a chance that this would be a lasting iconic piece of work that they would be really proud to be a part of. And I hope that turns out to be true,” Segel said.

The movie opens up with a funny short, “Small Fry,” about Buzz Lightyear being left behind at a fast food restaurant. There, he is forced to participate in a support group for discarded toys, while a three-inch impersonator takes his place at home.

Those seeking a light, family-friendly, comedy movie this holiday season will be pleasantly surprised with this film.

“The Muppets” is rated PG for some mild rude humor.