Time humorist Joel Stein recently reported on his visit to the set of Disney's The Muppets, which arrives just days before Turkey time on November 23 (check out the new trailer below). James Bobin directs from a script (by Jason Segel and his Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller) based on Jim Henson's beloved characters. Segel also stars alongside Amy Adams and cohorts Zach Galifianakis, Emily Blunt, Ed Helms, Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, Rashida Jones and more. Here are some highlights from Stein's visit:
1. "Between takes, Segel out-Muppets the actual Muppets, his grin still Kermit-wide long after the real Kermit the Frog closes his mouth and collapses around puppeteer Steve Whitmire's hand."
2. Of the plot, Stoller tells Stein: "They're all pretty lonely and miss their friends,..If this were real life, it wouldn't work. It would be weird Facebook friend requests from people you went to junior high with."
3. "There are moments when you get the feeling someone is going to walk in and tell everyone the Muppets aren't real and a lot of people are going to cry."
4. Stoller tells Stein that back in the 70s and 80s, "the Muppets were the gateway drug to comedy..You'd try it, and you'd want more of it, so you'd try Monty Python and Saturday Night Live. Then you'd fall down the rabbit hole. They're so self-aware, and there are jokes flying everywhere. They're like The Simpsons without cynicism."
5. Bobin tells Stein, referencing the Muppet Show's UK roots and Monty-Python-like absurdity: "There has to be a time when stupid jokes and warmth and puns come back..It's a change of direction."
6. Segel admits to Stein: "I relate to the Muppets on a very deep level,..They care about being nice to people. I don't really care about much besides being nice."
7. Segel says, of how the Muppets have stuck around: "There was a Christopher Guest mocking comedy wave, a Farrelly brothers gross-out comedy wave, a cringe-factor wave..The Muppets stuck around by not being cynical."