Although a much earlier draft of The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller had been reviewed elsewhere before, when I was offered the opportunity to take a look at a much more recent draft (dated 10/30/09, aka post-D23), I jumped.
It was at the D23 Expo in early September where then-Walt Disney Studios President Dick Cook offered up a strong Muppets song & dance number before announcing the title of the film, The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made, a nod towards an old a project Muppets writer Jerry Juhl was reported to have been working on for years, even alongside Jim Henson.
Enter the recent draft which still bears the original working title. Whether the D23 announced title sticks or whether the existing script will be scrapped and be completely re-written remains to be seen, but what is evident is that neither title seems appropriate for the film.
It is clear that Judd Apatow-protege Jason Segel is a fan of the Muppets as well as his writing parter Nicholas Stoller (who used to write for Segel on Apatow’s Undeclared before co-writing Forgetting Sarah Marshall with him), but unfortunately, that’s about all that’s clear in this film paved with good intentions.
I’ve hidden the bulk of the spoilers in case you aren’t ready for them, but if you are interested, click on Show below to see the full review.
Overall there are some genuinely funny and creative moments in the script, but they tend to get overwhelmed by cricket chirping-inducing moments and overused plot devices such as Richman literally saying ‘maniacal laugh’ over and over and enough flashbacks to make Seth MacFarlane blush. Conversely, some of the better running gags get lost in the fold too, such as the aging Muppets (Miss Piggy uses Just for Pigs hair dye) and Walter being so nondescript, that the Muppets have an interesting way of addressing him (reminiscent of one of my favorite running gags in the Cartoon Network’s The Flintstones: On the Rocks movie). Although there’s only one Chef in the film (well, two if you count the cameos), the film borders on being spoiled and often losing focus by having everything, including the kitchen sink, being crammed into 95 minutes — there’s even the obligatory Seth Green height joke.
There’s definitely a lot of potential in this new Muppets film, whatever it’s called, but there’s also much room for improvement before this one’s camera-ready.