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Teaming up with his longtime writing partner Nicholas Stoller, Segel conjured up a storyline to bring the beloved characters back into the spotlight for a new generation of budding moviegoers. The actor and writer has been vocal about his longtime love of Jim Henson’s cuddly crew, admitting to Rolling Stone that he “cried pretty hard” during his first interactions with Kermit the Frog.
“I have a special love for the Muppets,” he said. “They taught me the kind of comedian I wanted to be.”
During the film’s Hollywood premiere at the famed El Capitan theater, Segel told The Hollywood Reporter that he hopes to bring the Muppets back not only in his film, but on a larger level.
“The very end of the script ended with a classic Jason Segel trick where I said, ‘The Muppet Show will be back next year on ABC,’” he laughed. “And very quickly, [Disney] told me I was being too ambitious. But we’ll see!”
“The goal of this movie was to set the stage for the Muppets to do whatever they want,” he continued. “I think they should do movies and TV. It’s just, they’re such a positive comedic force and they need to be around and the forefront of comedy.”
A few of the film’s antics have raised eyebrows among Muppet purists (Fozzie Bear’s “farting shoes,” most notably) with many wondering whether 31-year-old Segel has a true grasp on the storied characters.
Quick to jump to her co-star’s defense, actress Amy Adams told THR, “I think they’re gonna love it.”
She may be right – the film, opening Nov. 23, has benefitted from strong test screenings and rave reviews, scoring an impressive 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Writes THR film critic Todd McCarthy, “A comic actor more identified with raunchy humor, Jason Segel has played a major hand in breathing new life into these 1970s-90s cultural mainstays, co-writing, co-executive producing and starring in this zippy feature that is about nothing more or less than the effort of bringing the long-since dispersed Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Animal and all the rest back together again. It does so with good cheer, a frank acknowledgment of changing mores and time passed and a wink at its own squeaky clean silliness.”
One classic character missing from the action is Elmo, who was unable to appear in the film as the result of a split between the Muppets and their Sesame Street counterparts. In this case, life imitated art for Segel, who attempted to write Elmo (and his lawyers) into the script.
“We wrote a scene where Elmo was going to potentially be the celebrity host, but lawyers told us that we couldn’t do it,” Segel explained. Adding with a laugh, “And that’s exactly what happened in real life. It was amazing.”
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