After almost a decade absence from the big screen, Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy and the rest are slated to return to movie theaters. Though the Muppets have spent most of their time on the small screen, this will be their first movie since the characters were purchased by Disney. What lies in store for our favorite furry personalities? Well…
The biggest surprise about the new project is that the film is being written by Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother) and directed by Nicholas Stoller — the team behind this weekend’s R-rated comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Considering that Disney is known for producing overly-homogenized projects, it’s refreshing that a new Muppet movie will be produced by the “hip” duo.
Though Segal and Stoller want to involve fellow performers from Judd Apatow series and features (Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Knocked Up), Kermit and the gang won’t be straying too far from their typical family-friendly humor. Segal tells MTV, “I’m hoping there’ll be cameos from our group of people. I think that might be what makes it work. It’s not going to be raunchy like our movies though! Every time I bring it up with somebody — Mila Kunis, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen — they say, ‘Oh my god, you’re writing me a part.’ So I don’t think there’ll be trouble casting. I would love to star in it myself. I think that’s the plan, but right now it’s just a script deal.” He went on to say, “We want a lot of cameos. You look back at Charles Grodin, Charles Durning, there were just such great performances in those movies.”
Segal is a certified Muppet fan and Sarah Marshall features a puppet musical version of Dracula towards the end of the film. Segal says, “I’ve always loved puppets, and the Henson Studios designed those puppets for us. While I was there, I was talking to them and asking when the next Muppets movie was coming out, and they said ‘We don?t control the Muppets anymore, Disney does.’ And that just made me think back to those early 80’s Muppet movies, and The Muppet Show.”
This encounter emboldened Segal to pitch an idea to Disney. Stoller tells Cinematical, “Jason had a general meeting at Disney, and he said ‘Why aren’t you guys doing anything with the Muppets?’ and there was an awkward pause, and they were like ‘We don’t know.’ You expect these multi-million dollar conglomerate companies to have more of a handle on stuff, but when something like that happens you realize they really don’t!” He added, “I’m not sure how it will all work because we’re still writing the script, but we definitely want all the original Muppet people involved. And it’ll be G or PG. There will be no puppet penis in it!”
Of his long love of the Muppet characters, Segal told ComingSoon.net, “I just remember being 10 years old and for me Kermit was Tom Hanks. Kermit is like the original every man and I remember watching the old Muppet [Show] with my parents and seeing Peter Sellers and people like that on. I’ve always had Muppet pictures and figurines all through my house. Now that I’m getting to write [the movie], I feel like all of my dreams are coming true.”
It’s Segal’s intent to honor the classic characters’ past while making them appealing to current audiences. He says, “I’ve just grown a little disappointed with ‘Muppets in the Old West,’ ‘Muppets Under Water,’ and all these weird concept movies. I just want to go take it back to the early 80’s? That’s what I?m trying to bring back.”
What will the story be about? He teased Empire, “It’s the Muppets needing to get back together to save the show… It’s going to take place all over the world. Basically, the Muppets are no longer together. So that might take a while to film. I guess they’ve set the precedent in that last movie [Muppets from Space] that Gonzo is, in fact, an alien, so he could well end up in space. That guy’s all over the place!” Of Segal’s acting role, Stoller says, “Jason will play a human ventriloquist, and his puppet is alive and wants to be a Muppet.” Beyond that, the script details are under wraps, but Segal says his goal is to make the film “hilarious, fantastic, heart-wrenching, beautiful, nostalgic and remarkable.”
There’s no release date from Disney as yet but Segal is known for writing quickly so the project is likely to move right along. The current plan is to head into production as soon as Segal completes filming I Love You, Man this summer. The Disney company has been anxious to find a way to successfully relaunch the Muppet characters since they acquired them in 2004 so it’s doubtful they’ll be dragging their feet. Stay tuned!