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Muppets 2 TV spot is about critics and fandom

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Why the 'Muppets Most Wanted' (2014) TV spot is about critics and fandom

This TV spot for the sequel Muppets Most Wanted makes effective use of the juxtaposition between typical unrestrained internet enthusiasm, and the gravelly-voiced intonations associated with serious accolades around awards season. (Thus, it's in line with the playful self-awareness of the brilliant advertising campaign for its successor, The Muppets. And it features an epic trailer announcer saying, “Squeeeeeee!!! Sideways winky-face.”, a treat about as rare as a Melinda May smile or a Joss Whedon show that doesn't get cancelled.)

However, it's not as simple as a binary between fans and critics, as if you're either a fan or a critic; or even a continuum between fans and critics, as if you're somewhere along the line between being a fan and being a critic. Rather, it might be more accurate to consider two dimensions: from high-brow to low-brow, and from appreciation to excoriation (i.e. extreme criticism).

Many of those we'd consider fans (e.g. Walter) would tend more towards low-brow than high-brow, and more towards appreciation rather than excoriation; whereas many of those we'd consider critics (e.g. Statler and Waldorf—interestingly, an anagram of Walter...and Staldorf) would tend more towards high-brow, than low-brow and more towards excoriation rather than appreciation; however, people are individuals, and these are not perfect correlations.

Comparing the Muppets to different creative types, Sam the Eagle would represent Michael Bay-style patriotic bombast, whereas the Swedish Chef would represent incomprehensible art-film stylings.

And more obviously, Kermit the Frog would be a harried director/producer, Miss Piggy would be an ego-centric star, and Fozzie Bear would be a low-brow, populist comedian.

Walter would represent the new generation of fans turned film-makers, such as J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon.

The overall tone of the trailer is, while tongue-in-cheek, upbeat and enthusiastic, celebrating the sheer fun of the Muppets, with self-awareness. It's similar to the recent “Everything is Awesome” TV spot for The Lego Movie.

Both TV spots exude, not only a combination of self-deprecating humour and confidence in the material, but also a joie de vivre, from people who love what they do—after all, these films are made by the directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Phil Lord & Chris Miller), and...well, The Muppets (James Bobin).

With a slate of films ranging from serious awards contenders (12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, The Railway Man) to ridiculously fun-looking family movies (Muppets Most Wanted, The Lego Movie) to superhero movies (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Guardians of the Galaxy) to epic blockbuster sequels (How to Train Your Dragon 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Hobbit: There and Back Again), 2014 looks it like could be a year where "Everything is Awesome". Or maybe having such a viewpoint is like being the Muppets' Animal, going, "Movie! Movie! Movie!"

Muppets Most Wanted stars Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Tom Hiddleston, and Ricky Gervais, and is released on 21 March 2014 in the US, and 28 March 2014 in the UK.

The Lego Movie stars the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, and Will Ferrell, and is released on 7 February 2014 in the US, and 14 February 2014 in the UK.


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