James Bobin

Muppets Most Wanted

One problem facing Muppets Most Wanted is that it follows up 2011′s The Muppets, which saw everyone’s favorite gaggle of vaudevillian weirdos taking part in a giant reunion in order to save both their theater and the rights to their name. The Great Muppet Caper (which this film cribs more than a little from) was content to put the Muppets in a genre plot rather than try to top the origin story of The Muppet Movie. Most Wanted again tries to pluck the heartstrings, separating Kermit from the rest of the Muppets and putting him in a crisis as he thinks his family has abandoned him (when really they’ve only failed to notice that he’s been replaced by a doppelgänger… which isn’t much better). But it can’t match the emotional tug of seeing the Muppets getting back together. Escalating the stakes with each new sequel doesn’t really work for this franchise. At this rate, the next Muppet film might actually kill someone off (psst, if that does happen, please get rid of Walter).

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burrellmuppets

Pretty much from the first moment the movie that eventually became The Muppets was rumored, fans were on board with the idea, and the reason everyone had so much faith in the project was simple: Jason Segel. Not only did he prove to the world that he could hit that right Muppet mix of heartfelt and hilarious by writing Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but he also showed some indication in that film that he had a rare talent for creating the goofy sort of puppet humor that makes you grin just as much as you groan. And after every interview he did while promoting the film made mention of the fact that said penchant for goofy puppet humor came from his lifelong love of the Muppets, and that his absolute dream project was to write a Muppet movie of his own—well, it was enough to create a perfect storm of good will. Ever since it was announced that the Segel and Nicholas Stoller-written and James Bobin-directed The Muppets would be getting a sequel set in Europe, the reaction to the project has conversely been met with a little bit of skepticism though, and that skepticism can basically be traced back to one root cause: the film’s decided lack of Jason Segel. This time around Bobin would be back in the director’s chair, Stoller would be back to help him put together a script, and  Bret McKenzie would even be back to do the music, but the man whose passion and sensibilities […]

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Muppets_Kermit_BMcKenzie

James Bobin and Bret McKenzie first worked together when Bobin was a director on Flight of the Conchords, the HBO series that chronicled McKenzie and Jemaine Clement’s travels as “New Zealand’s 4th most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo.” Probably their best-known collaboration to date came when McKenzie worked as a songwriter on the Bobin-directed 2011 reboot of the Muppets franchise though, as not only was that film successful enough to breathe new life into Jim Henson’s classic felt creations and spawn a sequel, but it also earned McKenzie a Best Original Song Oscar for his heartfelt, existential tune ‘Man or Muppet.’ As one would expect, Bobin has once again brought McKenzie on board to write more songs for that upcoming Muppets sequel, Muppets Most Wanted, but in a recent interview with Collider, McKenzie revealed that there’s also another intriguing project they’re in the early stages of working together on, and it’s one that seems to be influenced by every awesome movie that children of the 80s grew up wearing out VHS tapes of.

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Depp in Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland made an obscene amount of money back in 2010. Now Johnny Depp, whose last two films were both box-office disappointments- those being The Lone Ranger and Dark Shadows- is looking to get some more of that sweet, sweet Alice money. According to Deadline, the actor is in final talks to star in Alice in Wonderland 2. But while Depp may be back, Tim Burton isn’t. James Bobin, director of The Muppets (along with its upcoming sequel) will be taking Burton’s place in the director’s chair.

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Jim Carrey

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s the casting roundup with news about a talking raccoon, a frog puppet, a famous dog, a beautiful woman, and David Hasselhoff’s shorts. So far Marvel’s next big thing, The Guardians of the Galaxy, has been a great source of casting rumors, but not yet a generator of any casting confirmations. We’ve heard about a bevy of actors who might play Star-Lord, a handful who might be Drax the Destroyer, and now the Latino Review is reporting that director James Gunn and company are reaching out to both Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler to inquire about their availability for the film. What roles might they play? Perhaps they could provide the voices for either the big tree guy, Groot, or the little raccoon guy, Rocket Raccoon. I mean, it would just be too weird if either of them actually showed up playing a live action role, wouldn’t it? Definitely. Even hearing Sandler’s one goofy voice he uses coming out of a CG character’s mouth would just be too weird already. Let’s hope that rumor is completely off base.

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Tiny Fet Muppets

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tina Fey is close to securing a deal to play the female lead in The Muppets 2, which is speeding ahead to, you know, get made before its release later this year. If she joins, she’ll be playing a Russian gulag prison guard, which means Kermit and friends are probably going to make some mischief in Moscow. This is the best of all possible worlds. Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell are already signed on as the stars without hands up their backsides, and Fey would be the icing (aka the best part of the cake). In other words, this would be huge.

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Bret McKenzie and Kermit

James Bobin’s relaunch of Jim Henson’s fuzzy felt creations, The Muppets, was one of the big success stories of 2011. It proved that The Muppets could still be box office draws, it won over fans who had loved The Muppets for years and were initially skeptical of whether it could be good, and it made a whole new crop of Muppets fans out of kids meeting the characters for the first time. A big reason for the film’s success was that it featured great songs like “Life’s a Happy Song” and “Man Or Muppet,” which were not only good enough to be put up in the pantheon of best Muppets songs ever written, but were also good enough to win their composer, Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie, an Oscar for Best Original Song (and they were also catchy enough that you’ll probably be humming them for the rest of the day now that you’ve been reminded of them).

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Christoph Waltz

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily roundup of all the casting news you care about, and maybe (probably) one or two items you don’t. Some info has finally leaked about James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller’s upcoming sequel to The Muppets. Turns out it’s going to be a caper movie, somewhat along the lines of The Great Muppet Caper, but with more of an international flair. How international? So international that THR is reporting they’re closing in on signing Christoph Waltz to play one of the main, non-Muppet roles—that of an Interpol inspector. Other important parts for humans are said to include a Russian femme fatale and a male lead with mysterious intentions. Actors looking to land the part should start sending in their shifty-eyed head shots now.

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Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole never got to see his lone novel, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” get published, as it was only ever made public eleven years after his death. And names like John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley never got the chance to play the novel’s main character, Ignatius Reilly, as they all passed away before the various adaptations they were proposed to be parts of ever came together. At this point, it probably wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call any possibility of this beloved novel ever becoming a movie doomed. It appears as though its valve has closed. Or not. Vulture has news that the Confederacy of Dunces adaptation, which has been trying to get off the ground since 1982, is once again looking like it might be a go. And this time the talents involved in its resurrection are all so appealing that you might not even make yourself sick with worry that Toole’s wildly entertaining but constantly meandering story—which details a corpulent, over-educated, and outdated curmudgeon’s traversing of the exotic world of 60s era New Orleans—is completely unadaptable as a film.

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The Sound of The Muppets

There’s some good news and some bad news for fans of last year’s return of the Muppets to the big screen. Much of the thematic heft of Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s The Muppets script came from the question of whether or not the Muppets were still a viable entertainment entity in today’s cynical world, whether anybody remembered them, and if they could still be stars. The answer to that question now seems to be a definitive yes, because The Muppets did so well that Disney is starting work on a sequel.

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In today’s world of instant gratification and excess, enough is never enough. So if somebody makes two seasons of a TV show that you really enjoyed, it’s not a blessing that you got to experience the show at all, it’s a tragedy that the show didn’t last for six seasons and a movie. These days if a show gets cancelled or stops production the rumors of a feature film spin-off are inevitable and near-immediate. I blame Firefly for actually getting a post-cancellation movie made. Now TV shows can never rest in peace, we have to hear about the potential Deadwood movie and the potential Arrested Development movie ad nauseam. Today there’s a new show that you can add to the movie rumor pile, because Bret McKenzie just happened to make an offhand comment to a reporter about turning his HBO collaboration with co-star Jemaine Clement and director James Bobin, The Flight of the Conchords, into a feature. “We’re gonna try and do a movie,” he told THR, “We just need a story.”

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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Walter the Muppet

When penning their very own Muppet movie, The Muppets, writers Jason Segel (who co-stars in the film) and Nicholas Stoller had one essential code to crack – how exactly were they going to break into the fractured Muppet gang to get them back together for one more show? It turns out, it wasn’t how, it was who. The Muppets centers on Walter the Muppet (played by Walter the Muppet), the world’s biggest Muppet fan. Though Walter has taken great joy in the Muppets (particularly Kermit the Frog, his personal hero) as he’s grown up in Smalltown, USA, his favorite characters are treated as a relics by everyone else in town (save his brother, Segel as Gary). When Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) set out on a trip to Los Angeles, home of Muppet Studios, Walter comes along for the ride and to meet his idolts. What he finds at the Studios is unexpected – but the journey it ultimately leads him (and Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and the whole rest of the crew) on is far more unexpected (and wonderful). Walter is voiced and operated (muppeted?) by veteran puppeteer Peter Linz, whose extensive resume includes stints on The Puzzle Place, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Lomax: Hound of Music (where he voiced Lomax himself), Linz also has a long relationship with the Muppets. The puppeteer spent fourteen years on Sesame Street, and he’s contributed work to a number of smaller Muppet productions, while also […]

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James Bobin and Jason Segel on the set of The Muppets

When picking a director for the first feature film starring The Muppets since 1999′s Muppets from Space, it’s essential that the chosen helmer has not only the skill to pull off the production, but an affection and respect for the material that fans of the felted ones will be able to see and feel. The Muppets hit the jackpot with director James Bobin, a Muppets super-fan who also has a background in song, dance, comedy, and all that jazz. Who else would understand the essential element of The Muppets – believing that it’s all real? The Muppets is Bobin’s first feature film, but the British director has earned his stripes with some seminal television series – writing and directing Da Ali G Show and creating (along with writing, directing, and producing) Flight of the Conchords. He’s also been nominated for a BAFTA and a Writers Guild of America Award, along with notching no less than eleven Emmy nominations for his work. I sat down with the very excited and very genuine director to talk about The Muppets, starring an all-new Muppet (Walter) and centering on his journey to something close to Bobin’s heart – becoming a part of the, ahem, fabric that is the Muppets. After the break, Bobin discusses how his television background helped him launch a full-scale Muppet movie, his favorite Muppets to work with, treating the material with the utmost respect, and how to build that believable world from five feet off the ground.

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The Muppets

As we begin our celebration of The Muppets, you’ll notice that we’ve got plenty to cover. Not only are we looking back at the history of Kermit and friends, we’re also celebrating their return in the Disney film, directed by James Bobin, that we’ve already said is a fun return to form for these beloved characters. So it’s only right that we begin with a look at the colorful imagery released by Disney in anticipation of the film. From bus shelter posters to character one-sheets to shots from within and behind the scenes of the film, we’ve assembled all the available shots from in and around this exciting new movie in a feature we call The Ultimate ‘Muppets’ Photo Gallery. To see all the photos, simply head over to The Ultimate Muppets Photo Gallery by clicking here or click on the image above. For more of our week-long celebration, be sure to bookmark our Muppets Guide homepage.

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