“I am glad others enjoyed it,” Oz — the voice of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Bert from Sesame Street‘s Bert and Ernie, and Star Wars‘ all-knowing Yoda — told us at last Thursday’s 38th annual Saturn Awards, honoring sci-fi and horror films, in Burbank.
Why doesn’t Oz like the new Muppets?
“I thought the script wasn’t forward enough. I thought it was going backwards,” Oz says. “And, I thought it was too sweet. Because the Muppets are not sweet. They shouldn’t be cute. It was a little bit too smarmy and cute for me. The Muppets always hated cuteness.”
Oz, with his cast of voices steeped in fanboy lore, is always a hot ticket at sci-fi events, like the Saturn Awards in L.A. — followed by super fans and autograph seekers.
Further explaining his position, Oz offered historical perspective on The Muppets to put his argument into context.
“As a matter of fact, the Muppets — Jim [Henson] built a character named Bean Bunny, so people could think he’s cute, and take the onus off of the others,” says Oz, of Muppets creator Henson, who died in 1990. “But, it didn’t work — they still thought the others were cute. If it’s really cute, that’s great — purely. But, if it gets pejoratively cute, I’m not crazy about it. I thought the movie was just a bit too sweet.”
Oz adds, “There’s more depth to it than that.”
It’s not the first time Oz has bashed 2011’s The Muppets. Before its release last November, Oz said in an interview with U.K. website Metro that he was frosty to the new film.
“I wasn’t happy with the script. I don’t think they respected the characters,” Oz said. “But, I don’t want to go on about it like a sourpuss and hurt the movie.”
The original Muppets of the 1970s and 80s did have an edgier feel about them than the family comedy of late last year — primarily for their early Muppet Show on TV and appearances on the first season of Saturday Night Live. They also had kids’ movies in that era — The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Muppets Take Manhattan — in addition to the successful animated TV show, Muppet Babies. These led to the creatively less distinct Muppets movies of the 1990s, such as Muppets from Space.
Oz claims no official affiliation with the Muppets any longer — other actors assumed the characters’ voices long ago. Walt Disney Co. owns The Muppets’ licensing and properties — which Oz points out, quickly and often.
Asked if he knows if 2011’s Muppets will have a sequel, Oz says he hasn’t been contacted by Disney and is out of the creative loop.
“Disney owns it now, so I’m not really a part of that anymore, unless they ask me to be,” says Oz. “I don’t know.”
As to the recent controversy between The Muppets and fast food chain Chick-fil-A, Oz once again defers to Disney.
Last week, Jim Henson Co. posted a negative statement on its Facebook page — in addition to The Office‘s Ed Helms on Twitter, a few weeks ago — for the Chick-fil-A’s president’s recent public opposition to gay marriage.
“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” the Facebook message said. “Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.”
But Oz does not share this opinion. It is a move by Disney — not “the Muppets,” he says — when asked about the story. Oz was apparently unaware of any such Muppets decision regarding the fast food company.
“What was that about? I heard something about it,” Oz says. “It’s a business decision by Disney. If that’s the case, it’s not a Muppets decision — it’s a Disney decision. So, I know nothing about it.”
“Is it good, Chick-fil-A?” Oz asks.
Did you enjoy last year’s Muppets? Do you think Frank Oz has a good point?