Disney's The Muppets revitalized the Jim Henson brand, through its earnest love for the characters; not to mention, the obvious passion expressed through James Bobin's direction, as well as the story and screenplay co-written by Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel (who additionally played the non-puppet male lead). The How I Met Your Mother star accomplished what he set out to do, meaning he's entrusted Bobin and Stoller to put together a fitting followup, wryly titled The Muppets... Again!.
Muppets producer David Hoberman worked on the currently-playing Warm Bodies and this weekend's freshman comedy 21 and Over (read my review), so he has taken interviews in recent weeks. As a result, we can offer more information about what Bobin and Stoller are doing to keep the win streak alive - which includes both paying respect to the original Muppet Movie sequel, Great Muppet Caper, and expanding the range of original music covered by Kermit and friends.
On the Great Muppet Caper parallels, Hoberman told Crave Online:
“I would say the caper in this is an element of this, but I think there are so many surprises and different, fun stories going on in this one that I would say that is an element of it. The movie culminates in London but we go to Spain, we go to Germany, we go to a lot of different places. We just happen to end up in London. That’s where the caper culminates.”
This being a Muppet flick, it's not unreasonable to assume we might get a meta-nod to Great Muppet Caper. It could just amount to someone commenting on how certain events feeling familiar at some point, or possibly a more self-satirizing joke (a la Nick Offerman's complaint about recycling old ideas in 21 Jump Street). We'll certainly be getting more than a generous serving of Muppet self-reflexive humor and breaking the fourth wall - between the villain being Kermit's evil doppelgänger and comedians Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey popping up as characters other than themselves.
Bret McKenzie is once again writing and composing new songs for the latest Muppet flick, after taking home an Oscar for his work on the franchise reboot. Most of his toe-tapping compositions for Muppets qualify as part of the tried-and-true musical variety (save for Chris Cooper's rap "Let's Talk About Me"), but Hoberman promises his work on the sequel ventures into unexplored terrains of pop culture - as far as original Muppet cinematic song-and-dance numbers are concerned:
“Bret wrote all these songs for this new movie and they are so different and cover such a wide range of genres, I think we’ve got a couple of spectacular musical numbers in this one and I think it runs the gamut of ballad and comedy songs. Probably one homage to contemporary rock. I think we have five songs in this and they’re all original, so I’m hopeful. Music is so ingrained in the Muppet culture and history, and it’s part of the fun of doing it frankly.”
Henson's felt characters are known for doing humorous renditions of best-selling or iconic chart-toppers in Youtube parody videos and television shows, but seeing them put on a tailor-fit "homage to contemporary rock" should be a fun change of pace. Similarly, given the sequel is less focused on waxing nostalgic about the Muppets (and more interested in building them a new legacy), odds will improve that the current generation of youngsters become as fond and loyal to the brand as so many adults before them.
The Muppets... Again! opens in theaters on March 21st, 2014.
Source: Crave Online