May 23, 2011

Green With Envy – Dissecting “The Muppets” Trailer

Filed under: Commentary,Feature — Tags: , , — Joe Hennes @ 10:14 pm

Ever since we found out that the first trailer for the new Muppet movie (I’m still having trouble calling it by its official, yet generic title, “The Muppets”) would be premiering this weekend ahead of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, we’ve all been waiting on pins and needles for the inevitable internet leak. Because if there’s one thing the internet is good at, it’s leaking. And seriously, we were not about to pay $13 just to see a teaser trailer on the big screen. Though that was pretty tempting…

Thankfully, the rom-com “Green With Envy” trailer showed up online earlier today, which ended up being a big ol’ trick on moviegoers. We may be denied a predictable Jason Segel/Amy Adams romp, but we were gifted with the promise of Muppets (and a whole lot more).

In case you missed the trailer earlier today, here it is again. Watch it and then we’ll have some words.

I have to say, I’m a little jealous of all of you who got to see this in the theaters. Not only did you see it on a giant movie screen, but you had that moment of uncertainty before confirming that yes, thar be Muppets ahead.

And now we get to do what we do best: Nitpick! Let’s take a fine-toothed comb through this thing, because really, it’s all we’ve got for the moment.

First of all, let’s talk about “Green With Envy”. It looks like Disney made an entire mini-campaign, Facebook page and all. My favorite bit is the movie poster, which you can see right here:

GreenWithEnvyPoster

But what’s that just above Amy Adams’ head?greenwithenvy2

IT’S A CLUE! It is a clue, right?

The fake-out part of this trailer/campaign is fantastic. It’s totally believable that these two actors would be in a dull movie like that, and the situations are predictable enough to induce more than a little eye rolling. Of course, that means that in a 90-second teaser, the Muppets are only in about 45. That may be a little frustrating, but it’s tempting us with just enough to keep us (and, I guess, other movie watchers or whatever) drooling for more.

But enough about that first half, let’s talk Muppets. I really liked the narrator’s introductions of Kermit and Miss Piggy. The fact that he doesn’t know what they’re doing in this movie makes the audience think the same thing. Or, more importantly, what are they doing in a movie at all? Why, I haven’t seen them on the big screen since 1999 (Wonder Emporiums notwithstanding)! But then it doesn’t take long to convince us that there is no reason why they haven’t been in movies for the past 12 years. And why isn’t this movie in front of my eyeballs right now???

Moving right along, let’s look at some of these group shots:

TheMuppetsTeaser06I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for anytime Sweetums is hanging out in the back of a bunch of Muppets. And it’s nice to see that new guy Walter doesn’t look completely out of place here. I like his little suit, which makes him seem a little more straight-laced and naive than the others (though I’m sure he has a heart of pure chaos in that pure Muppet spirit). I’m not sure who that rat is, but it ain’t Rizzo. Could Rizzo be taking a back seat this time around to make room for, oh I dunno…

TheMuppetsTeaser08THOG?!?! It’s our first clear look at the Thog puppet! And wow, does he look good. It looks like he lost a little bit of that worn mesh that used to be his fur, and his beak is a bit more rounded. And look how huge he is. He’s twice the size of Sweetums! I can’t wait to see him in action.

Speaking of old timers, it’s cool to see everyone in their signature attires: Zoot’s dashiki, Janice’s hat, Scooter’s Member’s Only jacket, etc. Though I’m wondering how they landed on Gonzo’s 80s-era argyle vest. Not that I don’t love it (I really do), but I’ll always pine for the purple tux.

I wonder who the person behind the desk is. If I had to guess (and I’m gonna guess anyway, whether I have to or not), I’d say it’s Rashida Jones, who is playing some sort of network executive (according to the framed picture behind Segel’s head, it’s the “CDE Television Group”). I can’t quite tell if that’s her in the framed photo with the two disinterested girls, but that’s where I’m putting my money anyhow.

The white elephant in the room, however, is the be-wigged pig next to Animal. Rumors currently circling are that she(?) is the replacement for Miss Piggy after she refuses to join the Muppets for their reunion, that she is Fozzie’s second-rate Miss Piggy from his “Moopets” show, or that she’s a setup for a joke about “tough pigs”. I really hope it’s that last one. Come on, Segel, throw us a bone!

TheMuppetsTeaser12Here’s a shot of the Muppets doing what they do best: singing along with a completely random assortment of their peers. And hey, Kermit’s got his banjo! Does that mean they’re singing “Rainbow Connection” as an ensemble? And if you check your peripherals, you’ll see that a bunch of our old pals have been rebuilt, like Droop, Marvin Suggs, Bobby Benson, Link Hogthrob, Beautiful Day Monster, and Dr. Strangepork! It makes me wonder who else was rebuilt. Shakey Sanchez? The Koozebanian Phoob? Angus MacGonagle? (That one was for you, Dosier.)

TheMuppetsTeaser09And here’s a shot of Gonzo ripping his shirt open. There’s nothing particularly poignant I have to add to this. I just like things that mix Muppets and superheroes.

TheMuppetsTeaser13We haven’t seen much of Walter yet. Admittedly, I was pretty wary after seeing him in the Entertainment Weekly image. He looked stiff and generic. But thankfully the real deal is way better-looking than his photo puppet counterpart. His face is flexible like the Fraggle Rock characters, which will give him a pretty wide range of expression (it’s a good thing he’s being performed by a top-notch puppeteer like Peter Linz). Also, I dig his Kermit shirt. Though I don’t know if I’d want to be that guy wearing a t-shirt of someone I’m hanging out with at the moment. Don’t be that guy, Walter!

The rest of the trailer features some dancing, running around, screaming, explosions, and a chicken or two. There are also some fun Easter eggs if you care to search for them, like Kermit on the cover of GQ Magazine, the facade for Gonzo’s Royal Flush, and a poster of Jim Henson. That sure is a lot for one little teaser!

So what’s the final word? I got a little chill up my spine the first time I watched it, which is a sure sign for excitement. It has enough stuff crammed in to keep me watching it over and over again. From what little it shows, it seems to have a good mix of new stuff along with a deep respect for the characters’ legacy. So all in all, I declare it a rousing success.

However, we won’t sit still for just this much for too long! Soon enough, Disney will have to give us a little more time with the characters. We want to know more about Walter! We want to see actual jokes and hear snippets of the songs! We want Gonzo to have a line of dialog! And most importantly, we still want to know who that ugly brunette pig is!TheMuppetsTeaser17

Click here to tease a trailer or trail a teaser on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com



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