Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies.
I think even Disney was surprised by the success of 2011’s The Muppets. It revitalized the brand in a way that was unexpected considering the straight-to-DVD languishing that the Muppets had been suffering in recent years. Having a big name writer in Jason Segel and cult favorite Bret McKenzie to write the songs helped, but more than that I think people were eager for a real return of the Muppets they knew. The story had a clever setup, using new character Walter as a way to remind people what they loved about the Muppets, and it was full of stars either in cameos or full roles. (It’s the best film Jack Black has been in in a long time.) But beyond that, The Muppets captured the essence of the Muppets, that crazy, surrealist energy that only a band of misfits could have. It’s too early to tell whether the sequel, Muppets Most Wanted, can recapture that magic, but take a look at the first teaser trailer:
I could listen to Animal yelling out “Sequel” and other random words all day long. The teaser trailer does little to give us a sense of the story of Muppets Most Wanted, but we know it involves the Muppets going on a world tour following their success at the end of The Muppets. But along the way they get caught up with master criminal Constantine, who happens to look just like Kermit. It seems like the film will have some things in common with 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper.
In the trailer we get glimpses of Ricky Gervais, who has a featured role as Constantine’s assistant, “Number Two”, Tina Fey as a Russian officer and Ty Burrell as an Interpol agent. The footage they showed at D23 gave the audience there a much bigger look at these three characters, but this trailer doesn’t have time for that. Instead we get a montage of cameos, including Sean Combs and Salma Hayek.
And then there’s that ending, which gives me hope for the sequel. You see, the Muppets have always been about the absurd, which The Muppets captured perfectly. The various Muppet productions over the years, whether the shows or movies, have always felt targeted at those of us who feel too weird to be accepted by “normal” society. In many ways, Walter was the representation of every kid like me who felt they had more in common with a frog, a pig, a wild creature, and a “whatever” than with the people they met every day. There were no standards for the Muppets, every contributed and everyone was free to express themselves in whatever way best suited their abilities. So to see Scooter singing “Moves like Jagger” (by Maroon 5) with penguins as his backup feels just right. In some ways, the chickens clucking “Forget You” was the best part of The Muppets, because it just felt so right.
It helps that Jason Segel’s co-writer from The Muppets is returning for Muppets Most Wanted, as is the director, James Bobin. I have high hopes for Muppets Most Wanted, particularly if it is successful and can lead the Muppets back to TV, where they belong. Many of us were hoping that Disney would resurrect The Muppet Show on ABC after the success of The Muppets, and maybe another successful film would help that become a reality. The only thing better than seeing them on the big screen again would be seeing them every week in our homes.
What do you think? Does Muppets Most Wanted look like it will live up to its predecessor? Is Ricky Gervais a good substitute for Jason Segel? Did Bret McKenzie win an Oscar for the wrong song last time? (The answer to that is yes.) Who do you want to show up in a cameo? Who’s your favorite Muppet? Let me know in the comments!