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The Great Gonzo Tells Us About The Script For The New MUPPET Movie - aka THE GREATEST MUPPET MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!!

Merrick here...
I've been waiting for a new MUPPET MOVIE for a long time...and been really curious about what Segel & Stoller (FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL) have in store for us since being charged with bringing the Muppets back to the big screen. The Great Gonzo sent in his thoughts after reading the film's script. The verdict? Pretty positive! And, as far as I know, this is the first time the film's title has been revealed anywhere. I've a toddler who's already loving DVDs of the MUPPETS. Hopefully this'll be in theaters just about the time he's ready to sit through movies.
Here's The Great Gonzo...
I have been lucky enough to get my hands on the script to the new Muppet Movie a.k.a "The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time!!!" (as theyre calling it) by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller. I've read it an thought I'd pass on my thoughts. Before I get started, I think it's helpful to get my take on The Muppets. I LOVE THEM. I have a huge place in my heart for these characters and many of their adventures. However, I feel the Muppets have been completely misused and misunderstood since Jim Henson's death. I love The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Muppets Take Manhattan. I feel like all the Muppet films after Jim's death just didn't "get it". There was something missing. The characters were watered down... kiddified, if you will. Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets From Space... ugh. They just didn't feel like true Muppet movies. Anyway- keeping that in mind, how did I like the new script? Well, I'm going to start with the non-spoiler review and let you know my impressions. Then I'll go into some spoiler-iffic detail for those interested. The movie revolves around The Muppets reuniting after a huge falling out to save The Muppet Studios in Hollywood. They have to put on a show in the Muppet Theatre and get 10 million viewers to save the Studios from an evil Texas oil tycoon. That's the quick version. How is it? It's a solid, if not spectacular script that, with a bit of work, could be really great. What's good? It's obvious that Segel and Stoller really have a lot of love for the Muppets so the characters all feel pretty spot-on. It's funny and silly, just as the Muppets should be. All the classic characters are in there: Kermit, Piggy, Rowlf, Gonzo, Fozzie, Animal, The Electric Mayhem, Sam Eagle, Swedish Chef, Bunson and Beaker, Sweetums... etc. They obviously worked really hard to include everyone. Interestingly, the only post-Jim Henson Muppet to appear in the script is Pepe. He has all of 3 lines so it feels as if they thought "well, we have to have him in there because he's popular but we don't have to give him much time". There are some reverent nods to The Muppet Show and the first 3 movies that really displays the writers' respect for Jim Henson's work. There are a lot of great cameos scripted as well. Of course, we'll see if they can actually get all the celebrities they want to, but it would be nice. It is a musical which, for me, is a plus and hopefully they'll be able to churn out some songs as memorable as we had in the original 3 Muppet movies. What's not so good? There are patches in the script that still feel kind of flat. They need some punching up. The script also includes a lot of spoofs, which is to be expected. But some of them are already incredibly outdated, or will be in 6 months (MINOR SPOILER- there's a short scene written with cameos from Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau that is a spoof of Swingers. Swingers?!?!?!? I love that movie but it is 13 years old! No one is going to get this). The human characters that befriend the Muppets (Gary and Mary) are pretty bland and generic. I guess that's not surprising considering the outrageousness of the Muppets, but they have no real personalities. Also, I have always liked it when Piggy pursues Kermit but he's either aloof or not interested, like in The Muppet Movie. In this film, Kermit is in love with Piggy and acts like a jealous boyfriend. Not my favorite choice. Finally, I feel the climax of the film feels pretty small compared to the big finishes of The Muppet Movie or Muppets Take Manhattan. SPOILERS: Good stuff- -A good part of the film takes place in and around Hollywood, which ties it nicely it to the ending of The Muppet Movie. They even reference the "Standard Rich and Famous Contract" that was signed at the end of that film. -When Kermit decides to get the Muppets back together, he sends out the Muppet signal, ala the bat-signal. We then see where all the Muppets are and what they're doing. It's also a very funny sequences. Rowlf is working in a Kinko's run by cats. Gonzo is a crime fighter (including a cameo of Christian Bale in full Batman costume). The Electric Mayhem are performing in some dive bar in Alaska. Animal is in a celebrity rehab center for anger management. Lots of fun stuff here too. -There is another fantastic sequence that involves the Muppets trying to get a celebrity to host their show that is full of great cameos (Ben Stiller, Steve Carrell, George Clooney, Jack Black, Mel Brooks, Matt Damon) and the villain in different disguises foiling their plans. It's very fun and reminds me of classic Muppet fun. -Other cameos that I recall are Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt (in a Prada spoof) and Rachel Ray (cooking with the Swedish Chef). -There a lot of fun flashbacks in the movie. There's a great bit where the Muppets resent Kermit for always getting to open The Muppet Show and he answers, very simply, "I was the only one who could fit into the O". Flashback to all of the other Muppets trying to fit and failing miserably. -One of the best cameos, and nods to the past, is in a scene where Ms. Piggy ends up in jail. In the cell next to her is Charles Grodin, still incarcerated after The Great Muppet Caper. -The one main new muppet is Walter. He is a nondescript brown puppet, so there's a funny running gag of everyone thinking he's something different (a talking blanket, a prairie dog, a beakless bird, an otter). -On of the best bits happens late in the movie. The villain has a gun and plans on shooting Kermit (honestly, I don't remember why). Bunson switches the movie to "slow motion bullet time" and all of the Muppets start to pretend to be in slow motion while a small puppet bullet comes out of the gun on a stick being carried by another muppet who's making whooshing air noises. Fozzie walks in at regular speed, asks "what's going on", Kermit explains that they're in slo-mo, so Fozzie cooperates and starts moving slowly too. I can picture it, and it's a great bit. -Finally, the film is scripted to end with a montage of all the Muppets and celebrities who have appeared singing "Mana Mana" from The Muppet Show. Bad stuff- -The movie opens with 2 Muppet executives heralding the return of The Muppets and introducing the title (The Greatest Muppet Movie Of All Time). It's not funny, we never see these characters again, and so it really makes no sense. -Along those lines, the first 15 minutes or so are really flat with almost no jokes. It really picks up once they track down Kermit (in his big mansion where we get a little Willy Wonka joke), but it's a bit of a chore to get to that point. I hope they inject some fun here or people are going to check out. -Like I mentioned, some of the spoofs are just not going to work. I mentioned the Swingers one. Another example is that we are reintroduced to Fozzie Bear at The Comedy Central Roast of Fozzie Bear where they've written in cameos for Bob Saget, Lisa Lampenelli, Jeffrey Ross, etc... Well this sounds funny now when they're showing these Roasts pretty regularly, but it sure is going to date this movie in 5 years when these C-listers are completely gone. -They certainly tries to get all our favorite Muppets included, but there's only so much time. So there are a few who make appearances but get almost nothing to do or say: Scooter, Sweetums, and Pepe seem to take the biggest hit. END SPOILERS Overall- it is a strong script and I really, really like it. I hope they hammer it out, punch it up, make it faster and funnier, and we may finally get the return to form, and therefore the comeback, for The Muppets that we fans have been waiting for. We can hope, can't we? If you use this, call me The Great Gonzo.

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