Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, The Swedish Chef and the entire gang are back together for a hilarious new adventure after more than a decade out of the spotlight. Their new film is titled - appropriately - The Muppets.
It's hard to believe it was 35 years ago when "The Muppet Show" first appeared on TV and became a worldwide hit. Kermit, created by the late Jim Henson as a combination of marionette and puppet - hence, "Muppet," led audiences through a variety show of wacky acts with a parade of human guest stars joining in the absurdist humor. But those happy half-hours are long gone and, in the new film, the old Muppet theater is about to be torn down unless they can raise $10 million.
KERMIT "$10 million? That's impossible. The only way to raise that kind of money would be …to put on a show. I haven't seen the old gang in a long, long time."
WALTER "Your fans never left you. The world hasn't forgotten. It's time to play the music."
GARY "It's time to light the lights."
MARY "It's time to meet the Muppets …"
KERMIT "Come on guys, let's go!"
The Muppets is a dream project for comic actor Jason Segel. He co-wrote the script and then convinced the Disney studio, which now owns the Muppet characters, to make the film.
"It's hard to get a movie made in general, but I think the big thing we had to get across was that we weren't trying to do it with a sense of irony …that it wasn't us making the Muppets with a 'wink-wink' attached to it," Segel explains. "We had a pure love for the Muppets and we wanted to restore it to the 1970's and '80's Muppet movies."
Director James Bobin is no stranger to innovative comedy as creator of television hits like "Da Ali G Show" with Sacha Baron Cohen. However, he says The Muppets has the added challenge of re-introducing its characters to a younger audience.
"I couldn't just make a movie whereby I just told them the Muppets were great. I had to show them being great, and that's why the second half of the movie is really a Muppet Show, in a way," Bobin says.
FAKE PIGGY "You've been replaced."
MISS PIGGY "Oh yeah? Hi-yah! Ow, that hurt."
But beyond nostalgia, Jason Segel believes there is a place in today's edgier entertainment for something wholesome like The Muppets.
"The Muppets remind us of the best versions of ourselves," Segel says. "You are instantly transported to who you wanted to be when you were a kid. The sense of wide-eyed wonder that the world eventually beats out of you is something the Muppets have refused to let go away. I think in this more cynical world where a lot of comedy now comes through making jokes at other people's expense, the Muppets refuse to go there."
Amy Adams co-stars as the longtime girlfriend of Segel's character. Chris Cooper plays the ruthless tycoon threatening the old theater. And, true to its origins, The Muppets features cameos by an assortment of top music, film and television stars.