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The Great Muppet Cameos

By Miscellaneous | | February 10, 2010 |

By Miscellaneous | | February 10, 2010 |

I love the Muppets, and I would certainly watch a Muppet movie without any of the usual blink-and-you-miss-em movie and TV stars appearing in bit roles, whether they’re playing a balloon vendor or themselves (a la Liza Minnelli, in what was my favorite performance of hers until she joined the cast of Arrested Development). But just as with Cannonball Run films, the Muppet movies aren’t quite the same without a whole ton of famous faces popping up now and then for quick cameos.

So, ever since the announcement of the new Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller-penned, James Bobin-directed installment, now titled The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time, I’ve been excitedly wondering what kinds of celebrities will show up for minor support, as Richard Pryor, Bob Hope, Joan Rivers, Steve Martin, Peter Falk, Minnelli and many others had before them. And now The Playlist, which also this week shared the film’s plot details, gives a hint of who we can expect:

Folks like George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Chris Rock, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Mel Brooks, Matt Damon, Norah Jones, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ben Stiller are written into the script very, very briefly.

Of course these people aren’t cast, and I find it rather presumptuous that Segel would name the cameos he wanted to appear in this thing. Were Pryor and the others written into the scripts for the original Muppet movies, or was it more like whatever awesome comic actors and actresses wanted to appear showed up one day and were given an ice cream cart or waiter’s costume? Or, are these celebs written in as playing themselves? Well, that’s not really as fun, in my opinion. Aside from the occasional Minnelli or Ed Koch, I liked that most Muppet movie cameos were just random bit parts.

I guess having these big names appear as themselves makes this more like The Muppet Show, which apparently figures into this movie’s plot anyway. Still, I’m suddenly feeling crankier and more critical about this thing than Statler and Waldorf ever could be. Should I lighten up? Probably. It’s just the Muppets. I’ve enjoyed movies as weak as the over-funkified Muppets from Space. I’ll get through this, too.

Still, Sarah Jessica Parker? Unless there’s reference to her whiny mention of the Muppet Show from Girls Just Want to Have Fun, I really hope she’s unavailable whenever they shoot this thing.

Now, here are some responses to the film’s plot and cameos from around the blogosphere:

  • The Playlist:
    Cameos written into script just often don’t happen and or they’re substitute for whoever’s around and willing. See Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” that wrote in a cameo for Bruce Springsteen, but at the end of the day, the scene was totally reimagined, recontextualized (originally it was a dream) and ultimately Eminem appeared in the film. At least the Young MC cameo written into “Up In The Air” still happened, so we suppose there’s still hope. We bet cameos will happen in the film in the end, but whether its the aforementioned stars, who knows.
  • Mark at I Watch Stuff:
    Segel has written in a Kevin Bacon Game-ruining level of cameos […] It’s unclear if any of the stars have committed yet, but seeing that Ben Stiller has done two Night at the Museums, I’m going to call at least him game.
  • Dr. Cole Abaius at Film School Rejects:
    On the non-spoilerly side, it looks like the story will focus on the Muppet gang reuniting and coming out of show business retirement to save the original studio that birthed their iconic show. I assume it’ll be like Punch and Judy meet A Prairie Home Companion on mescaline.

    With musical numbers.

    And hopefully a Rec Center will be saved, too.

  • Josh Tyler at Cinema Blend:
    From their description it sounds like a lot of the movie may involve the Muppets putting on a show, which aside from the occasional Studebaker, is their natural habitat. In contrast, the best Muppet movies always had the gang out in the real world, interacting with real people (and the occasional cameoing celebrity). Maybe this isn’t the best setup.
  • Kofi Outlaw at ScreenRant:
    Every year that I’m at Disney World (my girlfriend loves that place) I make sure to stop in MGM’s Muppet theater so that I can watch their 3D stage show again. The Muppets and Showbiz always equal fun in my book. However, as far as movies go, I kind of feel like there would be bigger laughs in seeing the Muppets (who have been out of the limelight for awhile now) scattered here and there, each of them trying to make it in the modern world, only to find out they’re better off together doing what they love: performing.
  • Keith Demko at Collider:
    Just the mention of The Empire Strikes Back really intrigues me, because if this movie works at all, I and certainly many other people will want to see at least a Muppet trilogy from these guys, so I’ll take a capable Muppet movie in the classic vein, with hopes of their own Empire to come. And as far as the songs go, I haven’t heard any of them, but anyone who’s seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, also written by Segel and Stoller, knows that what they already delivered at the end of that flick with the blissfully silly Dracula puppet musical shows they at least have the right spirit for this.
  • Lindsay Robertson at Vulture:
    It’s really important to note that the (anonymous) reader admits that the songs — presumably a large part of the movie — were not in the script s/he read. Anyone who thought Jason Segel’s “Dracula’s Lament” in Forgetting Sarah Marshall was the single funniest movie scene of 2008 knows that with the songs included, this movie could easily live up to its ambitious reported title.
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