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Frank Oz worked on a new Muppet movie script

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by cahuenga, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think the film is like a far better done version of VMX. There's stuff that really spoke to me inn that movie and some stuff I just can't find the same thrill watching... and then there's the stuff that's just terribly forced into the script... the countless NBC promos... that sequence where Fozzie couldn't get the money to the bank (though I love the emotional payoff)... the line "To the Batphone Robin," that completely forced poorly dubbed kung fu movie bit. And above all, Sam the Eagle talking like Sideshow Mel. But I LOVED the stage show and the alternate reality.

    Though it is funny to see what was very similar in the film... the weird Kung Fu movie reference when they kidnap Jack Black (better done, though), the reference to reality TV (also better done and NOT a TV show promo forced in).... Everything's better done and has a better flow.

    I do agree something better could have been done instead of the getting the gang back together montage. The 1980's cleaning montage bit worked MUCH better on a bunch of levels... the weird nod to 1980's movies, the gags were better... over all, the Muppets sang to it. If only the getting everyone back together was that sharp.
    Duke Remington likes this.
  2. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Oh gosh, yeah I forgot the kung fu bit. That was so poorly executed, with a bad cinematography job, bad cgi, etc. Again, shades of VMX. That Salena Gomez/kid from Modern Family scene, shades of VMX. The golden twinkle effects when they clean the stage and other fade uses, very tv special like. Other scenes feel like a movie, some scenes feel like they're out of an NBC special from a decade ago.

    I need to watch VMX soon, but I have this strange suspicion that the new movie is more closely related to VMX than I would have imagined...whether if it is coincidence or not. I mean they both came out at the exact same time pretty much 9 years apart(nov 29 2002/nov 23 2011)

    The we built this city montage was great, and it flowed naturally. The beau part was classic("where did everyone go?")
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I tend to think that was random, didn't really need to be in there, but not half as bad as the bad Kung Fu Dub bit. Selena Gomez's line was a wonderful Backhand, "My agent told me to be here." Those two things are the only Disney studio meddling in the film.
  4. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    well for what it was worth VMX was a NBC co production so of course they would try and buff of there other shows.
  5. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    So according to this article here, Frank Oz wasn't overly happy with the concept or the script or the dynamic of The Muppets Take Manhatten, either. Maybe he has something against the Muppets splitting up? (After all, it was he (I think?) who says that they each have a part to play against each other -- Miss Piggy loves Kermit, Floyd annoys Miss Piggy, Foo Foo hates Floyd, etc)

    If Frank didn't appreciate TMTM, I would love to see what exactly he would do with the Muppets in a future movie. I'd really really like to see him involved with the next one in a writing or directing capacity.
  6. Puckrox

    Puckrox Well-Known Member

    I hope Frank comes around and helps with a future Muppet project. And, as much as I love/adore Eric, I wouldn't mind seeing him do Fozzie, Piggy, Sam, and Animal one last time either. I know he's retired from performing his Muppets (with the exception of Sesame Street characters on occasion), but that would be really great if we got to see him perform them at least once more.
  7. Epictetus

    Epictetus Active Member

    I had a busy weekend and forgot to check in on this thread. Egads, what a lot of great discussion!

    I don't have time, at the moment, to say more than that The Descendants is THE BEST. I just saw it last week and the first thing I said to my wife after the credits rolled was, "Well! That was a perfect movie." I have not time or art enough to say what an incredibly touching, compassionate, honest film it is. Please! If you have any time at all this month, go see this in the theater. Beaker couldn't be more right about how good it is.
  8. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Indeed, you just know immediately when you've seen a flawless amazing movie. The only other films that came close to giving me that feeling this year was Cedar Rapids, Rango, Midnight in Paris and Drive. But by far the most real, incredible experience for me this year was The Descendents. I wish I could say I felt as satisfied after seeing the Muppets, but it seems to have done what it needed to do for fans, the public and critics alike.
  9. Epictetus

    Epictetus Active Member

    I can only agree with this to a limited extent. There is truth to the idea that the majority of big-budget, mainstream films are directed at teenage male audiences these days. This was not always the case: prior to Star Wars, studios made there money with a larger number of lower-budget movies made for adults.

    But every year boasts between 15 - 25 very good films - even now - with none of the negative qualities I described earlier.
    This is evidence. I didn't see Cedar Rapids or Rango, but I saw Midnight in Paris and Drive, and they're both basically as good as movies get or have ever gotten. Individual artists are making tremendous film, but, sure: it's not what's earning all the money in modern America.

    Wes Anderson, for instance, has made a string of incredible movies - but they've earned about exactly as much as they've cost. Woody Allen makes a movie every year, and they range from okay to masterpiece. But, yeah, he has to go to Europe these days to get financing.

    So there's great art being made, but it doesn't seem to be what most Americans are buying. (Pixar, of course, is always the exception.)
  10. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Well he was also credited for a writing credit as well, so he must really have a strong idea about what the Muppets should do.
  11. blackaerin

    blackaerin Well-Known Member

    I'm not eloquent in words, but I agree that there's been something lacking in substance in the new movie.

    I wanted to like it, I dragged my best friend and paid for her ticket to give her her first real Muppet experience. But as I sat there watching, I think she ended up liking it more than I did and even then just barely.

    It was an enjoyable ride, yes there were parts that made me laugh, but at the end, I didn't get much from it.
    The euphoria didn't last and it left me kinda empty actually.

    Too much plot and not enough characters doing what they do best and causing Muppety chaos. It felt too tame and rigid. Barely anyone spoke when they weren't spoken to and I found myself thinking it's too quiet. It just wasn't natural, not in the way the classics were.
    This movie, I believe, relied too much on past movies that it just doesn't have it's own identity. Who's movie is this? Kermit's movie? Walter's movie? It just felt so disjointed that it's jarring when they switch the focus between Kermit's problem with the theatre, his problems with Piggy, and Walter's problems.

    And yes, the Rainbow Connection scene was a tearjerker, but you can't just bring out the nostalgia guns and not have something even more epic and original to give it closure!
    With nothing as epic to follow up on, it just sorta falls flat. Not even Walter's whistling could save that disappointment.
    They could've done a reprise of Pictures in My Head, which in my opinion was the movie's strongest song, and therefore had an ending worth a stand ovation for and reinforce the original aspects to the movie and not just the ones of nostalgia.
    (Really REALLY did not like the whistling scene.)

    I also agree with the montage scene, that could've easily been one of the best scenes a la Moving Right Along, yet it was handwaved so offhandedly. No song and dance number? No chaos in the car?
    And why oh why did they have someone else sing and not have their own original song during the cleaning scene? Something along the lines of "We're working hard to bring the theatre back and find out if we can still make people laugh".
    We got only 4 original songs out of this movie and 3 of those not of the Muppet cast. What's going on?

    I know that there's been a lot of sweat and tears poured into this, but I can't help but be unsatisfied with the end result when there's so much it could've been.
    I only hope the director's cut would relieve some of my fears and this sad feeling inside.
    Psammeadboi likes this.
  12. Psammeadboi

    Psammeadboi Well-Known Member

    I have to agree with everything blackaerin said here.

    I saw the movie three times in advanced screenings and every time I left the theatre I felt "unsettled." That was the only word that came to mind the first time I saw it. I really really really tried each successive time to like it. I even went with a whole bunch of my friends the third time, thinking that maybe seeing it with friends might make me appreciate it more. But alas, it did not.

    The nostalgia factors were amazing, but didn't help to hold the film together, nor move the plot. They were there to be just that - nostalgic.

    After the second time I saw it, I wrote down some things I didn't like and tried to understand them more. Here were my thoughts:

    • Kermit's character. Kermit was a downer. In this film, he seemed to give up at every chance he got. It was unsettling. Call me a Muppet purist, but this is not the Kermit I know and love. [​IMG]

    • Walter. I liked Walter. The only problem I had though with his character is that he is the new Kermit. He completely took over Kermit's role as the optimist, the leader, the one who holds everyone together. This quote from Jerry Juhl came to mind, "Kermit is the eye in the middle of the hurricane. And, you know, he's always in control. Sometimes just barely but he's always in control. And the interesting thing about it, of course, is that he created the hurricane." How come this wasn't Kermit in this film?

    • This film probably should have been called "Jason Segel loves The Muppets," instead of "The Muppets." There were so many moments when I thought, I'm watching a film about a man and his brother, who happens to be a Muppet, who loves the Muppets. I wasn't watching the Muppets in a movie. I was following the Muppet characters through a different lens, the lens of an outsider. I realize that perhaps this was meant to bring in a perspective so that people being introduced to the Muppets for the first time can relate, but this film clearly has moments a non-muppet fan might not get, at all. The story of Mary, Gary, and Walter seemed odd and slowed the movie down sometimes.
    • There were more songs sung by people than by Muppets. I found that disappointing. The Tex Richman song was completely unnecessary and didn't fit in the film (especially in a sing-a-long style). The Amy Adams and Miss Piggy song was oddly placed and kind of slowed down the momentum of the film. It was a cute song though.

    • Subtitles for the Swedish Chef and Camilla? Not sure that was necessary either.
    • The "Standard Rich and Famous Contract" includes a point about the Muppets being characters? So they aren't real? I'm not sure I entirely understand why that had to be in the film? The Muppets, as far as I understand, are real people living in the real world. They are not just characters who exist in a contract.
    • My biggest complaint though was some of the dialogue from Kermit. Kermit would never say something like, "You made me say those things to hurt you," to Miss Piggy, or "I regret the things I said." This was not Kermit speaking. This was someone else possessing Kermit speaking, perhaps some sort of demon. Jim Henson once said, "There is a sense of our characters caring for each other and having respect for each other. A positive feeling. A positive view of life. That's a key to everything we do. I believe that everything we do should have part of that." Where was this mentality in this film? It didn't show up until the last frames of the film.

    • A plot hole that maybe I don't want to know, butwhat could Kermit have said or done that split the Muppets up and made them all reluctant to return to save the theatre and their studios? Every time Kermit goes to get one of the Muppets there is a lot of reluctance and flat out no's when asked to get back together (except Rowlf).
    • Mahna Mahna is fun, but it was kind of just thrown in at the end. It made for a fun credits sequence though.
    Those were my initial thoughts after my first two screenings and looking at them now, they have not changed.

    Muppet fan 123 likes this.
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but I just don't get what you're saying in most cases...

    Think of it this way... In MFS, Kermit was devoid of personality and was barely in the film. And the part of the film he was in, he just made a couple goofy asides... every poignant moment was between Gonzo and Rizzo... I did not like that one bit. The complaint "Kermit was sad... he should always be happy" doesn't hold water. He was VERY close to giving up in TMM, he felt depressed, yet still determined in MTM... even in VMX, being a parody of It's a Wonderful Life he wished he was never born.

    In any case, the Muppet break up hit him HARD. The movie wasn't so much about the Muppets are coming back together as it was trying to get Kermit his confidence back. To quote The Joker, all it takes is one bad day. Even eternal optimists get that one big blow that sets them off. I dunno about you, but I wouldn't be happy and dancing around if I lost all my friends after a bad fight. Who would?

    I'll give you that, but answer with editing. At the risk of going on a rant about that (the ONLY thing that hurt the film), the Tex Richman song was SUPPOSED to give away huge plot points, including the real reason he has a vendetta against the Muppets. The full song is on the CD, and works much better. Why they couldn't have the extra minute of film run time to stretch the song out is beyond me. Me Party was only in, I swear, because Amy Adams lobbied for it heavily. Still, more songs sung by humans and Muppets than just Muppets is a huge step up from one song, or worse... a funk soundtrack.

    Again, look at MFS. Kermit's completely out of character "get down with your bad selves" is far worse. I'm sorry, but why wouldn't Kermit take Piggy aside and treat their relationship as an actual mature one built on honesty? If there's one thing I hate, it's when they treat the Kermit and Piggy relationship as fat jokes and hiyahs. They stopped that in the show third season. The fact Kermit actually broke and confronted Piggy about how overly dramatic she is, saying "I have to do things that hurt you," was a breath of fresh air compared to them constantly running around and making forced jokes on every single talk show appearance ever.

    Above all... the movie was depressing? How many "Where are they Now?" and "Behind the Music" specials have you seen where everyone's happy and smiling and saying "we're not famous anymore, and that's okay because I get to put on my feetie pajamas and watch cartoons all day." Some of the characters fell on hard times, some changed, some stayed the same and found new leases on life. The point was, Kermit was in the worst (or second worst after Fozzie) place because he just couldn't deal with his life without Piggy. Again, there was clearly a blow up where he just went nuts (something that he does tend to do, obvious example below)


    and clearly he went to far, Piggy left, and then things (very subtlety hinted at) fell apart not soon after. Once Piggy was back in his life, he was back to his own self.

    The movie wasn't about OOH look! Nostalgia... it wasn't about YAY! Funny Muppets... it was about what fame does to people, what lack of fame does to people, how we can forget who we are and are supposed to be, how we can get it back, and that sometimes we need someone to help push us in the right direction. At least that's how I saw it. More movie would have helped fill in these gaps.
  14. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    Once again, Dr. Tooth, I applaud you. You hit the nail right on the head in putting things into a better context. :)
  15. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Dr Tooth, that post made me very happy!!!
    Muppet fan 123 likes this.
  16. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    The movie DOES require a leap of faith on the part of the characters, sure... but I feel that's greatly rewarded in context. I'd hate to see any characters boiled down to a catchphrase or a stock personality. How come people are having problems with depressed Kermit, but everyone accepts artless, chickenless Eeyorish Gonzo we got in MFS? I have no problems with either. It's just how characters respond to certain situations. I do not think Kermit would deal with a break up with an "Oh well, now I have more time to work on that novel I'm never going to finish." I need to see MTM again, but Kermit dealt with that break up as a "this is depressing, but if it has to be done, they have my blessing." Of course, that was coming from Kermit following a dream that couldn't sustain the others. And also, his friends all came back not too far after.

    In the context of the movie, this was a huge blow up (which the junior novel points out was due to Piggy being too forward by hiring a real minister for the play to trick him into marriage... I don't want to go onto the complexities, but I can imagine it was more of a trust issue that got out of hand and things were said), that lead to the fall of the group, which was many years ago. There's a deep seated hopelessness in Kermit he never felt before. I don't see how this is any different from the inner self conversation in TMM or Kermit getting frustrated with the backstage antics of the Peter Sellers episode and singing Being Green. Just, the difference being the passage of years, hope fading year after year. It happens, and it can even happen to the best of us. But the fact he still maintained a house he bought with Piggy just before the blow out, that does signal he has a tiny spark of hope things would get better left.

    The film was a little too subtle if anything... and that's, again, due to the runtime and scenes being chopped out. We can't assume they're there, but we can't assume they aren't. And I wouldn't doubt the Junior Novelization worked from the original script and added things cut out. That does tend to happen. The comic book version of the original TMNT movie adds QUITE a bit that wasn't in the finished project... especially the better ending (Casey and April try to sell the story to a comic book publishing company, and they're turned down for being too farfetched an idea).
    Duke Remington likes this.
  17. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    Very true. At times like this, I get the feeling that some fans want certain characters to be one-dimensional and not three-dimensional.

    Another good example of this is Cookie Monster, who, like many other Muppets, is a pretty complex character, despite being a one-trick pony. He has a habit of eating anything and everything that's not alive, in addition to cookies. Yet there are some people (such as many an irritating YouTube video comment, predominantly those who still give in to the ever-so-stupid "Veggie Monster" rumors and lies) who forget that and think that he used to eat "cookies only" in the old days and display "selective memories" by not acknowledging the older clips that had Cookie eating healthy foods (such as that old Ad Council PSA from the 70's), extolling the virtues of proper eating (such as his "Healthy Food" song from the 80's) and going so far as to eat things that we humans would consider inedible (telephones, typewriters, paper, rocks, bicycles, brick walls, styrofoam letters and shapes, the infamous smoking pipe, etc.). They also seem to miss the point of the more recent skits that had Cookie having to constantly debunk the Veggie Monsters rumors (such as that interview with Matt Lauer and the episode where the talking vegetables were protesting)--it REALLY gets irritaing! Poor Cookie...

    Same with Oscar the Grouch. People think he should be nothing but grouchy all the time, when the truth is, again, is that he too is a very complex character. For one thing, he is not a villain and he does have a soft side (which he tries desperately to hide from everyone else). Again, some YouTube and Facebook comments have complained about Oscar not being truly grouchy anymore--they don't seem to understand that characters like him evolve and should evolve, while retaining their core characteristics. Oscar is still grouchy anyway, so I find myself rolling my eyes at how uninformed some people are.

    Back to Kermit. As previously mentioned, the frog is not always such an optimist. He has always had moments where he felt down and out, along with his tendency to get angry and go about screaming his head off at everyone. This reminds me, again, of a case of some people not understanding a character's depth--some fans think that the frog is too nice and friendly these days and want him to constantly yell and blow his stack at everyone and show off constant snarkiness like he constantly did on The Muppet Show and other projects. Kermit still gets that way on occassion, but I agree with those of who have said that he has probably become more used to all the craziness and the wild antics of his friends and colleagues than he was in the Muppet Show days. In other words, the frog has his share of negative traits, but he cares greatly about others.

    Sorry for the long post. I just felt all this had to be said.
  18. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Yeah that's pretty spot on. I've now seen the film several times in theaters, and once um...in another fashion we'll say...and the more I see it, the more I am not really digging it.

    The opening scene is VISIONARY. When he pops in the vhs of the Muppets, and that whole thing I welled up with goosebumps and quite an awe. But like Xmen First Class, after the powerful opening I feel it starts to lose steam.

    The Muppets 2011 feels like those times you have a high fever and have a weird dream about life...it feels kind of like real life, but filtered through a different lens. I seriously feel the new film does not even come close to being anywhere near a real film like The Muppet Movie or The Muppets Take Manhattan. You watch those movies, and those are real films...very believable, not an endless series of goofy surreal fourth wall breaking Family Guy moments.

    No Rizzo, Pepe, Robin, etc? Has Stoller or Segel been aware of anything made since Jim Henson passed away?
    And Gonzo...what the heck was that? Not only did the puppet build look way off like Fozzie, but Gonzo(in the few scenes he had) was way off. I understand the tone and theme of the film was the Muppets are forgotten in a dark hard cynical world...but the Muppets just seem melancholy. Kermit is morose, Fozzie has lost his mojo. I guess Walter made up for the lack of moxy.

    Even though I will say I felt Oz was deplorable and an embarassment, I generally love Kirk Thatcher's work. And I actually in retrospect think maybe he should have directed and co wrote it. Thatcher generally knows and "gets" the Muppets. Of course, it did take Segal to get the Muppets the spotlight and acclaim...but here's another example of why the new film feels off to me:

    What is up with the telethon? Were most the cameos cut? Im not holding my breath for some "super special edition" either.
  19. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Subtle? The movie had MORE unbelievable fourth wall breaking take-you-out-of-the-moment family guy style random gags than even VMX. Walter breaking through the wall, the population number flip, travel by map, all the fourth wall dialogue, the crappy tacked on prologue about Richman, the kung fu jack black scene, the forced "lets have an 80s montage" thing...we didnt get any of that stuff in the original films. At least, not to such a flippant jarring degree. I loved the real world adult dynamic of the Kermit/Piggy Paris dialogue...but then so much of the movie feels so random and off key.

    I actually hate that main song 'Lifes A Happy Song'...it gets a little better with the prologue...but I feel the strongest song is by far Pictures In My head. I feel the Kermit mansion scene and the opening monologue of the film, along with the Kermit/Piggy night time Paris talk are the main strong points of the movie. The rest just feels way too slap dashed to feel like a true Muppet movie. I also HATED the kung fu kidnap scene.

    Im glad the Segal/Adams romance was kept to a minimum, I think I woulda gagged if there was anymore of that
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I mean, of course, a lot of the character interactions and concepts were subtle. Due to the breakneck pacing and the overly chopped, hacked edits to fit an arbitrary running time so multiplexes can force so many showings of it in one day, a lot of the concepts had to be connect the dots. Just adding the full version of the Tex Richman song would have helped the movie out a lot. If anything else, it would make the ending less random, and Tex's inability to do a real maniacal laugh would be clearer. Editing is still my gripe about the movie, and I wish there could be a Donner cut of the thing, but I doubt there will be.

    I cannot blame Kirk for the weird choices in projects the Muppets had until now. Oz was terrible because, let's face it, it was a terrible idea. No matter what they could have done to it, it would still feel completely wrong and a bad fit for what they were trying to accomplish. Worst of all was that, while Disney didn't have a hand in it, they felt it was the project to launch their ownership on... and it took them YEARS to get back.

    However, I wouldn't say Kirk didn't have a hand in this film... I'm sure he's one of the guys at Muppets Studios that changed the major script concepts. I have to agree with Frank if that was indeed the version of the script he saw... Walter being a ventriloquist figure, the mansion Kermit lived in was nice, instead of the better concept of it being one he's just taking care of...

    If anything, Jason managed to get the film made, but he also managed to get a film that wasn't a gimmicky concept (not as gimmicky as classic retellings or a forced Sci-Fi focus anyway). I do think Disney would have done a big Muppet project, maybe even theatrical, but it would be some weird gimmick, possibly another classic retelling with far more human interaction than this film ever would have got... it would have done so so, we wouldn't have been excited at all by it, and then they'd be packed off in a box and buried behind Disney Afternoon cartoons and everything they got from Saban after the Fox Family buy out. To me, this movie was a very important one, and it was the film that HAD to be made. They can do anything in the world in the next film and it will be a given, but not without the help of this one.

    But now that I think about it, they should have just turned the montage into a solid cut, where all the characters were picked up in no time. The Rowlf joke would have still worked.

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