The Muppets (film)

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The Muppets is a 2011 feature-length film from Disney, and the first theatrical film to feature the eponymous characters since 1999's Muppets from Space. Unlike the 1990s and 2000s films, though, this film sets out to reinvigorate interest in the Muppet brand and characters, and return them a bit to their original variety-show days. It is written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and directed by James Bobin of Flight of the Conchords fame, with fellow Conchords alumnus Bret McKenzie in charge of the music. It is the first Muppet film not to feature Jerry Nelson,[1] and the first theatrical Muppet film not to feature Frank Oz. It won an Oscar for Best Song ("Man Or Muppet"), making it the first Muppet film to win any Oscar.

The plot involves Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan, his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary's girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) from Smalltown, USA, going on a vacation to Los Angeles. There the trio discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets' former stomping grounds. To stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10-million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit the Frog reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate. Celebrity cameos and fourth-wall-breaking ensue. ...and dancing chickens. ...and Jack Black.

After it was announced, well, let's just say the Muppet fanbase celebrated like... well, Muppets.

The first trailer can be seen here. Be aware that it deliberately misleads you into thinking it's a romantic comedy. It becomes blatantly obvious by the end. There's also the extensive Muppet Wiki page, which gives you a good idea of what you're in for.

A sequel has been announced. Currently it is scheduled for a summer 2013 release, and Jason Segel is not involved.

Not to be confused with The Muppet Movie.

Tropes used in The Muppets (film) include:

Jack Black: Oh hey, Animal. What are you doing here?
Animal: Acting! (three second pause) Natural!

  • Advertised Extra: Pepe. See Wolverine Publicity below.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Guess who.
  • All in The Manual: Tex Richman losing the ability to laugh was glanced over very briefly. His "maniacal laugh" onomatopoeia makes more sense now.
    • Specifically the The Muppets' Junior Novelization which sheds a lot more light onto some of the other unexplained aspects of the film including: why the Muppets broke up, why Kermit and Piggy split apart, why Tex Richman hates the Muppets, why they didn't just ask rich plumbing magnate Gonzo for the money, and why the last bit of story was relegated to the end credits.
  • Any Torment You Can Walk Away From: No one gets into trouble for kidnapping Jack Black.
  • All Part of the Show: Piggy has the Muppets kidnap Jack Black to be their celebrity host. He spends the entire telethon tied to a chair complaining about how they made him fancy, the jokes are bad, and he really is not doing this willingly. The audience laughs, thinking it's a Running Gag. It works to Fozzie's advantage in particular, since his jokes are actually bad, and they think Jack balances them out with his complaints.
  • All-Star Cast: Both in-universe and out-of-universe, and heavily lampshaded. For the Network to air their telethon, they require a celebrity. They decide to kidnap Jack Black for it, and at the end, random celebrities show up, either with no idea why they're there, or because their agent told them to go there.
    • This includes four Oscar winners, three Emmy winners, and a former drummer of Nirvana.
  • Always Close: Subverted. It appeared the Muppets were just a dollar away from their ten million dollar goal when the phone lines were cut, but that was just because the readout Misplaced a Decimal Point. They were actually one cent away from one percent of the money they needed. Fozzie notes that this makes him feel better somehow.
  • Amusing Injuries: It's the Muppets. Comes with the territory.
  • Art Evolution/Big-Budget Beef-Up: You can't exactly tell, but the filmmakers are benefiting from a larger budget and rebuilt most of the puppets. For example, Gonzo now can raise each eye individually, which is rather in character for him.
    • The puppets all look cleaner and more polished than they did in The Muppet Movie, since the first movie was made on a smaller budget, and this is Disney we're talking about.
    • For the first time in a Muppet movie, the rods attached to their arms that the puppeteers use to control them are digitally removed. Doesn't distract you in the slightest.
  • As Himself: Jack Black, plus a handful of celebrity cameos.
    • Also played with: A Running Gag in all Muppet promotional material, the Muppets claim they are actually acting and not being themselves, but characters who are named exactly like them and had their exact same personality.

Walter: In the movie, I get to play this huge Muppet fan and, in real life, I'M A HUGE MUPPET FAN!
Uncle Deadly: The character I play is called Uncle Deadly, which is also my name. It's like it was written for me!

    • Interviewers always tend to get confused about this. They ask the Muppets questions about how they felt when such-and-such happens, and the Muppets will respond "Well, my character felt..." Even though the Muppets have been very clear that they are actors, not their characters, for years, interviewers still don't seem to grasp it.
  • Ascended Extra: More obscure Muppets are back in bigger roles. Such as Uncle Deadly as Tex Richman's right hand man and Lew Zealand having an important role in the kidnapping of Jack Black.
    • Not to mention Camilla's big musical number. You go, girl!
      • Most likely added to the movie in response to them getting involved in Cee-Lo Green's "F... uh, "Forget You" at the previous year's Grammy Awards.
  • Ascended Fanboy/Promoted Fanboy: Walter in-universe; Jason Segel (and the rest of the cast and crew) in real life.
  • Audible Gleam: When Piggy looks over the fallen Muppet Man and sees Kermit for the first time in years, there is a visible and audible sparkle in her eye. Just like in The Muppet Movie, when she sees Kermit for the first time.
  • Audience Surrogate: As Tough Pigs put it, "(...)Walter is us. I related with his character so much, I practically expected him to say that he runs his own website for Muppet Fans Who Grew Up."
  • Award Bait Song: "Man or Muppet", in a literal sense too (it was nominated for quite a few awards and actually ended up winning an Oscar in 2012).
  • Badbutt: The Moopets. They don't swear, drink or take drugs, unlike many real-life humans in similar positions.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Only to undergo a Heel Face Turn shortly after. The brain damage had nothing to do with it.
  • Bad to the Bone: Both the trope naming song and "Back in Black" are used for this purpose.
  • Bait and Switch: When Walter, Mary, and Gary are looking for Kermit, Walter says to pull over where we see a man selling "maps of the stars"... to get some chili dogs.
  • Berserk Button: Mentioning anything related to drums works both Animal and Jack Black into a frenzy.
    • Jack Black also hates the word Tuesday.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb
  • Non Sequitur Scene: Tex Richman's rap response to Kermit's plea to give them the studio back. To which Kermit responds by saying he could have just told them that. The rest of the Muppets stare in complete bemusement during the entire song.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ultimately subverted at literally the last second, and for the better, too: Tex Richman finally finds the gift of laughter, pulls a Heel Face Turn, and returns the theatre and the Muppet name to the Muppets, much to the ire of the Moopets.
  • Bland-Name Product: The Moopets.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Some of the Muppets appear to be completely unfamiliar with trends and styles in The New Tens, especially Kermit, who uses the same card carousel he used in 1981 to find a guest star for the telethon, thinks Jimmy Carter is still the President, and keeps 80's Robot as a butler, and Dr. Teeth, who plays We Built This City as the song for the cleaning montage!
    • '80s Robot himself. He uses extremely loud and annoying dial-up modems and thinks that people still like Tab and New Coke.
  • Brick Joke: "Travel by map."
  • Butt Monkey: Jack Black. You know you have it bad when even Beaker gets to heap on the abuse!
  • The Cameo: Old audio from The Muppet Show is used in order to give one to Jim Henson posthumously ("Our very special guest star, Mister Bob Hope!"). Jerry Nelson gets cameos at the same time, announcing the "Veterinary Hospital" and "Pigs in Space" sketches. The audio plays as Kermit reenters the Muppet Theater for the first time in years and sees the main stage and the PIS set in disarray.
    • Henson also gets visual cameos: He is on one of the pictures in Kermit's office, and he is visible on one of the lamppost-held banners on Hollywood Boulevard (this poster is/was actually there in real life, as people who have stars on the Walk of Fame were being honored with lamppost banners at the time of filming.)
    • And Nelson gets one for real, doing the voiceover announcing the start of the Telethon.
    • It being the Muppets, cameos abound. Virtually anybody who has a speaking part is some big name. Made painfully obvious when Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris, and many others approach to cameo on the Show Within a Show and end up running the phones.
    • Earlier in the movie, Dave Grohl shows up as Animool, Animal's counterpart in the Moopets.
    • Lampshaded and mocked during the telethon. Guest stars show up, with absolutely no idea why they're there, or because their agents sent them there.
    • Michaela Conlin can be seen for a second as one of the fans outside the Muppet Theater at the end.
  • California Doubling: It looks like the car is coming out of the water in actual Cannes, France, but according to the DVD Commentary that was filmed at "a lake in Northern California" on the final day of shooting. The casting call was for "men with body hair", whom they put in Speedos, then obviously changed the background with CGI.
  • Captain Ersatz: '80s Robot, a robot that points out and makes '80s references, looks like R.O.B. or the Tomy Omnibot 2000.
    • In-universe with the Moopets.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Fozzie Bear: I once waited a whole year for September.
    • Bobo: So, do you think we're working for the bad guy?
  • Casting Gag: Emily Blunt plays a receptionist, just like she did in another movie. And Piggy is the Plus Size editor for a major fashion magazine.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Walter gets one about being invited to join the Muppets, and being left behind.
  • Catch Phrase: The main three get theirs.

Kermit's: "Hi-ho, Fozzie." and "YAAAAAAAAY!"

    • Also, Kermit's "Good grief".

Fozzie's: "Wokka Wokka" (and echoed by the Faux Fozzie in the Moopets).

  • Censorship by Spelling: Animal's trigger word, D-R-U-M.
  • Cerebus Retcon: In the junior novelization, they state that Kermit and Piggy had a huge argument over being married "for the show", subtly implying the end The Muppets Take Manhattan was the last of their golden age.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tex Richman has some kind of internal defect that makes it impossible for him to laugh. That's why he keeps Bobo and Uncle Deadly around -- so that he can have maniacal laughing on command, literally.
    • The Head Bowling injury sustained thanks to Gonzo fixes that. He gets a head injury that is absolutely not related to his decision to give the Muppets their name and theater back, but he also gains the ability to laugh for the first time in his life.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jack Black. He first appears as Animal's sponsor at his anger management retreat, reinforcing him to keep away from drums. During the failed rehearsal, which failed because Animal would not play drums, the ex-drummer blurted out his name. Which is probably why Miss Piggy later decided to kidnap him to be the telethon's celebrity guest.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Mary. Her class loves her so much because her class is fun and because she teaches hands-on electrical engineering to elementary school students, which comes in handy when Richman literally axes the fuse box.
    • Walter counts too. During the clean-up montage, you can hear Walter whistle part of "We built this city on rock and roll". Come about 45 minutes later, and he's up on stage whistling his lungs out.
  • Cherubic Choir: A backlit and silhouetted Kermit walks up on Gary, Mary and Walter; the voices of angels can be heard. The latter, still shaking off the effects of having hit an electric fence looks up blearily to see his hero. It turns out that the silhouette came from the headlights of a bus containing the angelic voices - a choir who were practicing en route.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Most of the Muppets Tonight cast except for Pepe and Bobo.[4] Clifford did have a cameo in the original cut, though this was more to squeeze otherwise-absent Kevin Clash in when Sesame Workshop wouldn't let him cameo as Elmo.
  • Co-Dragons: Bobo and (fittingly) Uncle Deadly are these for Tex Richman.
  • Comically Missing the Point: A pair of TV executives are utterly confused as to why a teacher's association would sue one of their game shows, when said game show involves children punching teachers in the face.
  • Continuity Porn: Often. It was written by die-hard Muppet fans, after all.

Scooter: Well, I'm off to the Ted conference!

    • Whoopi Goldberg is the first celebrity to show up at the Muppet Theater to help and one of the few that we can say with certainty are actually there because they want to be and not because their agents told them to. Not surprising, given her previous interactions with the Henson gang.
    • When Kermit initially refuses to try and reassemble the gang, Mary asides to Gary, "This is going to be a really short movie." This is similar to a line Kermit says to his boss in The Great Muppet Caper so that he doesn't fire him.
    • The riff that plays whenever Kermit and Piggy have a scene together is from "The First Time It Happens" from The Great Muppet Caper.
    • One contained entirely within the movie itself: When talking to Kermit, Walter mentions that the Muppets give laughter, which is the third greatest gift (after children and ice cream). The Triumphant Reprise of "Life's a Happy Song" at the end has the line "And we'll keep giving the third greatest gift: laughter!".
    • In the trailers, Statler and Waldorf asking if the Muppets film will be in 3D is a callback to Muppet*Vision 3D.
    • Gary and Walter are said to have been indistinguishable as children, despite one being a Muppet and the other a human. In The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit and Fozzie were identical twin reporters whom no one could tell apart unless Fozzie was wearing his hat.
  • Cool Teacher: Mary is apparently so popular with her students that they're disappointed about having to go on vacation. And she teaches them how to fix a 12 volt starter in a car.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: TEX RICHMAN.
  • Crazy Prepared: Gonzo wore his stuntman outfit underneath his business suit every day so he can rip it off when the Muppets got back together.
  • Creative Closing Credits: "Mahna Mahna! Do DOOOOO do do do!"
  • Crowd Song: A lot, "Life's a Happy Song" is an example.
  • Dance Line: The first song in the movie leads to this.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Moopets. Richman specifically wants to position them as a new grim and gritty version of the Muppets.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Uncle Deadly lampshades this trope as he performs his Heel Face Turn
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler and Waldorf, to only name a few. More or less everyone gets a chance to snark in this one.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: TV programmer Veronica only gives the Muppets a spot due to a sudden schedule hole that needs to be filled, and is constantly harassing them about not making her look bad for it. During the show she starts to get more emotionally involved, until she's tearfully rooting for them after "The Rainbow Connection".
  • Deleted Scene: Good lord, do we need a Director's Cut! The movie was originally over two hours long! Several parts of the clips and previews shown before the release of the movie were not in the final cut, such as the Muppet farmer who performs at the start and end of Camilla's number, Gonzo knocking the bowling pin off Gary’s head, and various celebrities singing "Manha Manha" in various takes. Kermit doesn't introduce Camilla with the random, "... and now, dancing chickens!"
    • A scene which had the Muppets thrown in jail and featured Wanda Sykes and Danny Trejo was cut from the film. Judd Hirsch is only seen in the audience for a second and doesn't even say a thing!
    • Mary doesn't suggest going to lunch during Walter's drawn-out scream.
    • Cameos by Mila Kunis, Billy Crystal, Kathy Griffin and Ricky Gervais were also cut. Billy Crystal appeared confronting the Muppets hosting an illegal Awards-type show to promote their telethon and had them arrested.
    • Walter's Dream Sequence was originally longer, and it shows, what with the rapid pace of that scene in the final cut! Since this was to be the first time the original Muppet characters would appear in the film, and wouldn't for the next 10–15 minutes following it, the writers probably wanted them to be silly around Walter's home longer.
  • Demoted to Extra: Rizzo the rat is no longer interacting with Gonzo in this adaptation and is only seen in crowd shots, probably due to Steve Whitmire being really busy as Kermit. Kermit's nephew Robin suffers a similar fate.
    • Gonzo got better treatment than Rizzo and Robin did, but not by much. His role is very small, which is a tad strange given that of the main five Muppets, Gonzo is the only one left that's still performed by his original performer.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Tex Richman pulls several attempts to stop the show. Turns out he didn't need to, since they were never close to raising the ten million dollars anyway.
    • Unusually for this trope, his attempts to stop the show are not the reason he ultimately fails to achieve his goal, although it does bring about Uncle Deadly's Heel Face Turn.
  • Disco Dan: The '80s Robot.
  • Distant Duet: "Me Party" (Mary and Piggy) and "Man or Muppet" (Gary, Walter and their Muppet/human counterparts).
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Sweet Jebbis, yes! New obstacles keep on appearing, Kermit comes close to losing it, and they initially don't even succeed in reaching their goal either. They would have lost the theater if it weren't for a blow to the head to Tex Richman, causing his personality to change!
  • Efficient Displacement: Walter proves capable of this when he bails on doing his act in a fit of Stage Fright.
  • The Eighties Robot: Still doesn't know New Coke and Tab are out of vogue.
    • Or that cans of New Coke are now undrinkable.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: "I think that's just an internet rumor. Like that there's a country called Turkey."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Uncle Deadly really doesn't want to be a Moopet.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Not-so-successfully invoked with Bobo, who's just really Genre Blind.
  • Everytown, America: Smalltown
  • Evil Brit: Uncle Deadly subverts this.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Moopets.
  • Evil Laugh: Uncle Deadly and Bobo, but mocked with Tex Richman, who simply mutters: "Maniacal laugh... maniacal laugh..."
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Played with. Walter paraphrases the conversation between Statler & Waldorf and Richman (and minions), but uses an Edward G. Robinson voice to describe how Tex sounded.

Mary: People still talk like that?
Walter: Well, maybe that's just how he sounded in my head.

  • Executive Meddling: In-universe example with the executive in charge of organizing the telethon, who mandates that the Muppets must get a celebrity host for their show... a celebrity who is popular in today's decade... or she will pull the plug on them.
  • Exposition Bomb
  • Expospeak Gag: Gary comes into the hotel room and Mary is reading a thesaurus. At first you think she's just that bored, but then she starts breaking out synonyms for the word "alone"...
  • Fainting: Walter. Three times.
  • Fallen-On-Hard-Times Job: Fozzie's making ends meet in a Muppets cover band.
    • Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem also (sans Animal), who are street performers in the Times Square MTA subway station.
  • Fan Myopia: In-universe, Walter evinces essentially no understanding that his love of the Muppets is not shared to the same degree by others - to the point where he completely forgets that the Muppets weren't the original focus of their California trip and he himself wasn't even supposed to have gone along in the first place.
  • Fastball Special: Gary and Walter's method of catching a fly ball, in the intro.
  • Five Second Foreshadowing: Literally, but not explosive information. Gary learns that Mary has returned to Smalltown, and then comes the "Muppet or a Man" song. Then we see a bus returning to Smalltown and it's a safe assumption that Mary is on it and has just gotten back - we just saw Gary in LA, after all. HOWEVER, and blink and you'll miss it, the Population X and Counting dropped by three from 102 to 99 when they left at the beginning, and when the bus is returning the sign adds one going from 100 to 101. Mary is already back in town. However before you can think about this or even do the math, Gary is walking up to Mary's house.
  • Flyover Country: Gary and Walter come from Smalltown, U.S.A., a fictional town somewhere around the Kansas-Missouri border. Also, the Travel by Map button is introduced in mid-Missouri (somewhere near Springfield) before they travel to Paris. And Gonzo's plumbing business is in Nebraska.
  • Follow The Bouncing Blinged-Out Dollar Sign: Richman's Piss-Take Rap Villain Song.
  • Foreshadowing: When Walter enters Kermit's old office, he sees a framed newspaper on the wall with the headline "Muppet Performance Stops Traffic In Hollywood Boulevard". Guess what happens at the end of the telethon!
    • At the beginning, Walter watches the episode with guest Steve Martin—in which the Muppets audition new acts.
    • Kermit's House has him and Miss Piggy on the front gates despite Kermit living alone. We later learn that Miss Piggy built the house for THEM to live in.
  • Freudian Excuse: The soundtrack-only extended cut of "Let's Talk About Me" (that one rap) gives one to Tex Richman. He and his childhood friends saw a performance by The Muppets on his tenth birthday and Tex didn't know how to laugh, so all of his friends laughed at him. The only reference to this in the film proper is a single comment by Uncle Deadly during his Heel Face Turn.
  • Genre Savvy: Walter, The Big Bad, Mary, many characters.
  • Good Animal, Bad Animal: "DRUMS!" "NO DRUMS!"
  • Gray Rain of Depression:
    • Spoofed: Mary's song, as she laments being with Gary, who is so devoted to his brother Walter, that it's never "Me and him" but "Me and him and him". It turns out to be the janitor hosing some gunk off the windows of the school.
    • Played straight: Gary returns to the motel room in a tux and holding flowers after realizing why Mary was so upset with him (he'd been so caught up in helping the Muppets restore the theater he completely forgot it was his and Mary's tenth anniversary) to discover Mary gone and a note that reads:

I love you, but you have to decide. Are you a man or a muppet?

"I can't believe I fell for 'Muppet Man'."

  • Heel Face Turn: Uncle Deadly, followed by Tex Richman after he's hit with a bowling ball.
  • Heel Realization: Bobo wonders if he and Uncle Deadly are working for the bad guy. Deadly is devastated to consider this, and spells it out in even bigger terms when he shoves Richman to his apparent death.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Brothers Walter and Gary. It's more than implied that Gary hasn't proposed to Mary yet because he doesn't want to leave Walter alone.
  • Hidden Talents: Walter's talent for whistling isn't precisely hidden. He whistles when he's happy and occupied. He just didn't think of it as a talent until he was put on the spot and had to come up with something.
  • Hope Spot: When Walter goes on for his whistling act, we're led to believe that the Muppets really will raise enough money to save their theatre. Turns out, they won't.
    • Averted with Gonzo Gonzo is a very successful businessman, of course he'll have 10 million to spare, right? But before the audience can even think about this, Gonzo does a Gonzo thing and destroys his business.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Averted. The main human characters play a very equal role to the Muppets themselves, and several old Muppets are back too. In fact, the humans' story winds up being separate from the advertised story of the Muppets rising back to fame and in the end, they are basically only there to have actual actors headlining in the marquee. Extends to the end credits, where the Muppeteers are credited before the actors!
  • Hurricane of Puns
  • I Wish It Was Real: Walter dreams about Kermit and the gang literally popping out through his TV screen and inviting him to join them in The Muppet Show. It promptly devolves into a nightmare when he can't go into the television.
  • Imagine the Audience Naked: Played with. They're only half-naked!
  • Imagine Spot: Mary's solo in "Life's A Happy Song": she imagines Gary riding up on a white steed, then leaping off in full top hat and tails to propose to her. He does at the end, though minus the outfit and horse.
  • Impairment Shot: Walter gets one of Mary, Gary, and Kermit coming into focus as he wakes from fainting. Upon being told he's in Kermit's house, he passes out again.
  • Intermission: The Blu-Ray will start one up if you leave the movie paused for more than 3 seconds.
  • Irony: Jack Black being beaten up, fighting movie style.
  • It Came From the Fridge: What the Swedish Chef finds when he opens the fridge in the abandoned Muppet Theatre. Of course, Muppet food tends to be sentient to begin with...
  • It's All About Me: The Big Bad.
  • "I Want" Song: Mary's solo for "Life's a Happy Song".
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Gonzo won't go back to show business because he feels he needs a stable job for Camilla. When the gang arrives, he initially turns them down, until Camilla tells him that she knows he wants to perform again and she's okay with it. This is especially heartwarming on Gonzo's part given his somewhat shaky devotion to Camilla in previous works.
  • Jerkass: Tex isn't quite a Complete Monster (he doesn't try to kill anyone or screw up the world as we know it), but his actions during the movie and his sheer determination to prevent the Muppets from reaching their goal make him tiptoe dangerously close to the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Pretty much the reason Tex Richman is the way he is. His friends laughed at him for not knowing how to laugh, some friends he had...
    • Walter also gets mocked a fair bit during the childhood montage, on account of his love of the Muppets; for example, when he shows up for trick-or-treating dressed as Kermit.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Swedish Chef's method of clearing out a fridge that has had food (which, as per tradition with him, is Muppet-style sentient) sit in it so long, it's gone very moldy.
  • Lampshade Hanging: It is a Muppet movie, after all.
  • Laugh with Me: Richman has to prompt Uncle Deadly and Bobo when it's time for a "Maniacal Laugh", since he can't do one himself.
  • Left the Background Music On: See Cherubic Choir above.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Take a look at the poster on the page.
    • There's a bit of a subtle Running Gag about this too. If you look at the large group shots throughout the movie, more and more Muppets keep appearing until pretty much every Muppet ever is assembled at the end.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Gently spoofed. Everybody acts as though Mary is some sort of weirdo for eating alone at a a diner, even though this is perfectly common. They don't seem to have a problem with her doing a musical number about it, though.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Though it is never directly referenced, Walter looks exactly like a Muppet from our first view of him, and as he grows up, he never gets any taller than Muppet-size, three feet tall. Kermit ties it up nicely when he thanks Walter for making their reunion possible and welcomes him as part of the family. Gary ties up the other end when the Muppets realize that they still have legions of fans who are delighted to see them return; he tells Walter to go be with the Muppets; they belong together as family.
  • Looping Lines: Along with the musical numbers, there's Fozzie's voice. He often changes mid-sentence from a softer tone to a more traditional "Fozzie-ish" tone, making it obvious that there was some ADR work involved.
  • Meaningful Background Event: During her rehearsal with Pepe, Piggy can be seen in the mirror behind him after she goes off screen, she starts running before he counts to three.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Come on! Why don't you join us!"
  • Medium Awareness: Another longstanding Muppet trope.

Fozzie Bear: Wow, that was such an expensive looking explosion! I can't believe we had that in the budget.
Kermit: We're all back together... even you guys who weren't in the Montage!

"So... do you think we're working for the bad guy?"

  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: At the end of the telethon, the Muppets have raised $9,999,999 - one dollar short of the $10 million they need to save their theater. As Richman gloats, Fozzie bangs his head against the money counter in despair. The display flickers, rolls, and resets... revealing that the decimal point wasn't displaying correctly, and that they actually raised only $99,999.99.
  • Moment Killer: Gary and Walter have been inseparable their whole lives, but Gary tells Walter that he's taking Mary to Los Angeles for their tenth anniversary. Walter, despondent at being left behind but trying to buck up, asks for them to send a postcard from Muppet Studios. Gary says he can't do that because Walter's coming along. Walter asks if that won't be a problem. Gary assures him Mary is fine with it and that she says, "the more, the merrier!" Several scenes later, he arrives to pick up Mary, and we see him spring on Mary that Walter is coming along. Mary is less than okay with it and says she wanted them to have some alone time (in the hopes Gary would propose).
  • The Movie: This is basically The Muppet Show: The Movie.
  • Musical World Hypothesis: Either the "Alternate Universe Hypothesis" or the "Diegetic Hypothesis"; it's hard to tell what with the constant lampshading of the musical numbers and the Muppets being Animated Actors in "our" world and such.

Gary: I've made up my mind, and I just sang a song about it.

"Whoopi Goldberg! Selena Gomez! Uh... hi you!"

  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Uncle Deadly as Tex Richman's sidekick. Subverted and lampshaded with his Heel Face Turn.
  • Negative Continuity: Well, more like selective continuity. The only things from the Muppets past[6] that we know for sure happened are The Muppet Show and the events of The Muppet Movie. Also, Muppet Babies aired (there are a few pieces of memorabilia from that show in Gary and Walter's house), but what didn't have an Animated Adaptation in the 80's? Elements of The Muppets Take Manhattan are referenced, including Kermit and Piggy's wedding photo, but in this film they were never actually married.[7]
    • It's more clear in the Junior Novel Version: After the events in The Muppets Take Manhattan, Piggy starts to act as if she and Kermit actually got married and Kermit gets mad about it. They do have a vague conversation about it in the movie while they are in Paris.
    • There are only three references to the last theatrical Muppet movie, Muppets from Space: Gonzo's "People of Earth" callback (which, in itself, is something he would say even before MFS), Bobo's role as the villain's not-exactly-evil henchman, and the fact Gary and Walter own the movie on DVD (you'd have to look really closely to realize that, though).
      • Also Justified in the fact that the Muppets have gone on press stating this is only a movie and they're all just playing themselves.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The initial trailers had Fake Out Openings for different movies, including Green with Envy and The Fuzzy Pack.
    • Lampshaded in the "Green Lantern" spoof trailer, where Jason Segel states that people will think the spoof trailer means they are hiding something and promises the movie is not actually in Swedish (this likely references how foreign movies are often advertised in a way that downplays the fact that they are subtitled).

Trailer: WE PROMISE.

Statler: It feels like we just mentioned a really important plot point.
Waldorf: I hope so, or we bored the audience half to death for nothing.
Statler: You mean half the audience is still alive?

    • After Kermit says there's no way to raise ten million dollars to save the studio, minutes into the movie:

Mary: Ohhh, this is gonna be a really short movie.

    • After asking how Kermit's going to pick up the rest of the Muppets:

Kermit: Didn't you see our first movie? We drive!

    • After the Muppets run from an enormous (off-screen) explosion:

Fozzie: Wow. That looked like a really expensive explosion. I didn't know we had that much in the budget.
Robot: May I suggest we pick up the rest of the Muppets using a Montage?
Rowlf: Hey yeah, how come you didn't use me in the montage?

    • "Life's a Happy Song (finale)" begins with Uncle Deadly saying, "How charming, a finale." The lyrics include these:

Marvin Suggs: The movie's almost over. It's time to say, "So long!"
Tex Richman: Will you please stop singing? You've already sung this song!

    • Mary leads into the end credits by saying "Manamana" into the camera.
  • Obviously Evil: Uncle Deadly, natch. However, Even Evil Has Standards.
  • Old Media Are Evil: Sam the Eagle is found by Kermit working for a parody of FOX news.
  • Only Sane Man: In an obviously ironic manner, Jack Black.
  • The Other Darrin: This is the third Muppet film not to feature Frank Oz in any role,[8] after It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, and the first in theaters. His characters are voiced and performed mostly by Eric Jacobson instead.
    • It's also the first not to feature Jerry Nelson at all.[9]
    • While a full list of replacements for each character would be too involved, a general guide to the Other Darrins is Eric Jacobson for Frank Oz, Matt Vogel for Jerry Nelson, and Dave Goelz remains, as ever, Dave Goelz. Jim Henson's characters are mostly divided between Steve Whitmire and Bill Baretta, and Richard Hunt's characters are divided between Steve Whitmire and David Rudman.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Uncle Deadly. His exact species isn't stated in the film, but the junior novelization does refer to him as a dragon (the most common assumption).
  • Overly Long Gag: Every simile and its subsequent rhymes in "Life's a Happy Song" ("Life's a piece of pie/With someone to stir and someone to fry", "Life's a bunch of flowers/With someone to while away the hours") which comes one after the other, and seems endless until we get to the line "Life's a fillet of fish", to which Gary and Walter respond with just "Uh... yes it is."
  • Overly Long Scream: Walter, after he finds out the Big Bad's evil scheme.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: "Muppet Man". Apparently, all Muppets know about this trick, yet Miss Piggy still falls for it.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Played straight, with subverted results. At the end of the telethon, the Muppets have raised $9,999,999 - one dollar short of the $10 million they need to save their theater. As Richman gloats, Fozzie bangs his head against the money counter in despair. The display flickers, rolls, and resets... revealing that the decimal point wasn't displaying correctly, and that they actually raised only $99,999.99. Fozzie points out that it somehow makes him feel better to know that they missed their final goal by miles, rather than inches.
  • Picture-Perfect Presentation: Kermit has portraits of the Electric Mayhem, Gonzo, The Swedish Chef, and Fozzie in his house. As he sings "Pictures in My Head", they go from still paintings to live Muppets, singing along. They return to portraits as the song ends. He has one of Miss Piggy too, but it doesn't come to life and it's covered under sheets, because Kermit was hit hard by their break-up.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Tex Richman's Villain Song. The assorted cast stare in bemusement at this.
  • Poor Man's Substitute: In-Universe example. The Moopets are a knockoff band playing at a cheap motel in Reno with only Fozzie to give them cred when the Muppets disbanded. When the actual Muppets reform and Fozzie returns to them, the other members are not pleased.
  • Population X and Counting: The population sign for Smalltown reduces by 3 as the main characters leave.
  • Post Modernism: Like so many Muppet productions before, you'd better believe this film is as meta as possible.
  • Product Placement: Billboards for Cars 2 appear in prominent locations several times.
    • A sign for Jimmy Kimmel Live is prominent, as the exteriors of the Muppet Theater are those of the Disney-owned El Capitan Theatre, near where JKL tapes.
    • In-Universe. The cooks try to put the line "Life's a filet of fish" into the song "Life's a Happy Song", leading to an awkward moment when the characters can't find a rhyme for it.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The plot involves this.
  • Reality Subtext: The whole movie is about the Muppets' popularity having severely declined over the years, and their getting one more chance to show the world they've still got what it takes. And that's exactly what happened, given the film's reception.
    • In-universe: A fan of the Muppets dreams of bringing them back to fame and work with them!
    • Out-universe: A fan of the Muppets dreams of bringing them back to fame and work with them! Coincidence?
  • Race Against the Clock
  • Recycled Script: This is the second Muppet movie involving the Muppets putting on a show to raise the money needed to save the theater from a businessman trying to tear it down (the first being It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie). However, despite the reused basic premise, they are totally different movies.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Walter, a brand-new Muppet created for the film, is described as a plain brown puppet. He's not exactly a fan of how generic he is.
  • Rushmore Refacement: Crazy Harry pulls this.
  • Sadist Show: In-universe, what we see of Punch Teacher appears to be a bunch of kids hitting a well-meaning teacher. Which goes on for two hours.
    • The telethon is also this in-universe. Most of its humor comes from Jack Black's being tormented by the Muppets.
  • Sequel: Concerning the story, it's a sequel to The Muppet Movie and partially The Muppets Take Manhattan, although it takes small liberties with the timeline, inserting a couple characters from Muppets Tonight into it.
  • Shoot the Television: Tex Richman finishes a round of fencing and then sees on the news that the Muppets are raising the money to buy their theater back. He throws his fencing blade at the TV in response.
  • Shout-Out: Camilla and the other chickens sing "Forget You"... just like they did with Cee-Lo during the 2011 Grammys.
  • Sound Effects Bleep: A fairly funny example when the barbershop quartet are singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and avoid the lines "a mulatto" and "my libido" by having Beaker sing them.
    • They use a similar trick (having it be sung by the chickens) to get away with including "F**ck You" in the show, although the chickens clearly sing two syllables, indicating that it's the radio edit of "Forget You".
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Pops up as Gary and Walter walk to the school to pick up Mary, then as the three walk to the bus stop.
    • Evidently this is exhausting in-universe. When Mary looks out the window at Walter after saying it is fine that he's coming to LA you can see the townspeople who danced along with them lying around, exhausted. Then once they leave town, everyone collapses.
    • Also when Walter goes onstage for his whistling song. We'd been told they had two minutes to come up with something, and a substantial part of that was Gary convincing Walter to go onstage. At the end of those two minutes, though, Walter is ready for his act, the spotlight is on him and the orchestra knows exactly which piece to play.
  • Statler and Waldorf: They are the first original Muppets (not counting the dream sequence or the archived footage of the TV show) to appear in the film, first selling the Muppet Theater to Tex Richman, and then returning to their traditional box for the telethon.
    • "I love geriatric humor."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Miss Piggy's dance rehearsal with Pepe the Prawn is a Shout Out to Dirty Dancing.
    • Did anybody else notice that on the map at the very beginning of the movie, Gary and Walter's Boy Scout camp was labeled to be in Paradise Falls?
    • The premise of Jack Black hosting the show against his will is the same one used in the John Cleese episode of The Muppet Show.
    • Mary does a bit of the roll dance from The Gold Rush.
    • The "Me Party" song is very reminiscent of a typical musical number from Flight of the Conchords, right down to the staging and camera work, which the director and songwriter also worked on.
    • The Swedish Chef says, in his own barely intelligible way, "Say hello to my little friend!" as he's clearing out the fridge.
    • Donald Glover sharing a scene with Rashida Jones, whom he's rapped about before.
    • During the early part of the film set in Gary and Walter's small all-American town, there's a cameo by Mickey Rooney, star of the Andy Hardy films set in a small all-American town.
      • It's also a reference to the Backyard Musicals Rooney did with Judy Garland ("Let's get everyone together and put on a show!")
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Beauregard has apparently been living in his janitor's closet since the last time the Muppets performed in the theater, occasionally wondering where everybody went.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Very much an example of and defense of the idealistic side of the scale.
  • Stealth Pun/Parental Bonus: Camilla the Chicken and company cluck out Cee-Lo's "Forget You" - or, better known as its uncensored version, "Fuck You".
    • Staying with Camilla, and doubling as a Funny Background Event, when she's seen typing in the background behind the main cast meeting Gonzo, how is she typing? By the Hunt-and-Peck method, of course.
    • From "Pictures In My Head":

Kermit (to a portrait of Fozzie Bear): They might have been unbearable, but I still loved your jokes.

    • Miss Piggy drops a clever one when she is first approached by the Muppets, in Paris. She claims it's always "'WE' this and 'WE' that". One imagines a lot of things in France would be "'OUI' this and 'OUI' that", too.
  • Still Got It: All the Muppets realize that they never lost any of their talent and skill after years of living under the radar. But they still can't seem to keep rhythm in a song without Animal's percussion, who has been in rehab to control his violent ways and has thus vowed not to play drums. When he does finally return to the drums, Floyd uses this trope to congratulate him.
  • Stood Up: Played with. Gary promises Mary he'll show and they'll have dinner together, and she should go ahead and go sightseeing on her own without him. She spends most of the day sightseeing, clearly hoping he'll show, but he doesn't. And then he tops it off by saying "I don't care, whatever you want" when she asks about dinner -- on their anniversary. Their tenth anniversary.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That:

Rico Rodriguez: Are you one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
Kermit: Yyyyyes I am!

    • Even earlier, outside the Muppet Studio lot:

Tourist: Is this Universal Studios?
Tour guide (defeatedly): ...yes it is.

"May I suggest we save time and pick up the rest of the Muppets using a montage?"

  • Toilet Humor: Played with in the form of Fozzie's "Fart Shoes".
    • Several Muppet veterans (including Frank Oz) refused to work on the film explaining how the script didn't appear to be faithful to the Muppets, using the fart shoes as an example of poor jokes... when Fozzie has always made poor jokes!
      • Not only that, but the "Fart Shoes" joke was meant as a Lampshade/parody of poor jokes...
  • Totem Pole Trench: "Muppet Man".
  • Travel Montage: Invoked ("We should travel by map!") and subverted.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Of "Life's A Happy Song"
    • This gets mocked (and Lampshaded by Tex: "Would you please stop singing, you've already sung this song!"
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: For the trailer. In the car, the classic "Mahna Mahna" tune (the version from The Muppet Show) plays on the radio.

"Maybe we should've gotten a bigger car."

  • Underdogs Never Lose: Subverted by the telethon; the Muppets don't even get close to raising the $10 million needed to save the theater. It turns out it doesn't matter - the audience loved the telethon anyway and the Muppets rise back to fame in-universe. It goes along with one of the morals: it's the friends you work with that make you successful and the fact you tried.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: True to form (and her job), Miss Piggy's always seen in some fancy outfit for nearly every new scene.
  • The Un-Reveal:

Gary: Mary, will you marry me?
Mary: ... Mahna Mahna (cue song)

Rowlf: Ha ha ha... classic.

  • What Happened to the Mouse?: "Mahna Mahna" montage during the credits notwithstanding, Veronica is never seen again after "Rainbow Connection." Last we see her she's cheering the Muppets on after the song and then she's gone, completely absent from the finale.
    • The red car - possibly a rental, because they took a bus to LA - takes them to Kermit's house, and then is never seen again. They leave in Kermit's car, driven by the robot. The red car is never seen or mentioned again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Kermit was really unhappy that the gang kidnapped Jack Black and only went along with it because there wasn't enough time to get a host legitimately.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The Muppets have until midnight on the night of the telethon to raise the money for the theater.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's never exactly pointed out how far Smalltown, USA is from LA, but it's far enough that Walter, in all his years as a Muppet fan, has never visited, and they take a bus to get there. It's close enough, though, that Mary and Gary can watch the beginning of the telethon on TV there and still get back to LA within the two-hour running time of the telethon - with time to spare. Lampshaded by Kermit asking how they got there so fast, and Gary and Mary say they traveled by map.
    • According to the map at the beginning of the movie, it seems to be in Nebraska or Kansas.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: The point of this movie, both in-universe and out.
    • A little moreso in the film than in Real Life, though. The success of the viral videos and re-releases of The Muppet Show on DVD were most likely part of the reason the film was greenlit in the first place, as well as the right talent (Jason Segel, Bret McKenzie) being fans and who had interest in producing it at the right time.
  • William Telling: Head Bowling!
  • Wrench Wench: Mary is very good at working with cars and electricity.
  • Writer on Board: Possibly. Kermit protests that kids are smart enough to deserve better than shows like Punch Teacher, but is cut off by the TV executive. Then again, Kermit has appeared on Sesame Street, which has been very upfront with young children on issues such as death, so it's still in-character.
  • Written by Cast Member: Jason Segel.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Pepe was featured very prominently in trailers and promotional material. His head in the poster pictured above is even in a spot that implies he's a main character. He only appears for about a minute and in most of the crowd scenes towards the end, and even then, is easy to miss.
  • X Meets Y: The Muppets Meets How I Met Your Mother Meets Pushing Daisies meets The Country Bears (to an extent).
    • Or, more specifically, The Muppets Meets The Blues Brothers.
    • This film would never have happened had Jason Segel not been a childhood fan of the show, and he wrote it, making this The Jason Segel Movie with Muppets.

Statler: Hey, is this movie in 3-D?
Waldorf: Nope, The Muppets are as one-dimensional as they've always been!
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho!

  1. See The Other Darrin below.
  2. all now performed by Eric Jacobson
  3. he's performed by Steve Whitmire
  4. (Most likely, the Jim Henson Hour/Muppets Tonight era characters have a minimal presence because they didn't exist in the Muppet Show days, and thus wouldn't be included in a cast reunion.
  5. well, one of them, anyway
  6. in the context of this film's backstory
  7. This continues a long tradition of each current Muppet production picking and choosing which previous productions count.
  8. any new role, anyway; the original version of "Mahna Mahna" plays over the credits, with Frank's vocals as the Snowths intact
  9. Almost. Jerry recorded the opening announcement to the Muppets Telethon on the sly.
  10. "Hey Rowlf, you wanna get back together?" "...okay."