Episodes: Putting Muppets in (some of) this year's Oscar nominees


Tonight, my wife, who is not a fan of Best Picture frontrunner La La Land, suggested that she felt Emma Stone was a big part of her inability to connect with the film. Though she is demonstrably wrong on this count (EMMA STONE IS GREAT IN LA LA LAND, AND EVERYBODY BUT MY WIFE KNOWS IT), she raised an interesting point: What if this movie were made 10 years ago and starred Amy Adams in the role of Mia? Wouldn't that be better?

A longtime Amy Adams fan, I had to concede that she would have made a great Mia when she was still in her late 20s or early 30s. But then I had another thought: Hadn't she already sort of played Mia? In the 2011 film The Muppets? Where she is literally perfect? She sings. She dances. She pines for her great love. She hangs out with puppets. If that's not La La Land material, I don't know what is!

Anyway, the rest wrote itself. Behold: I give unto you Muppets recast in certain roles in some of this year's Oscar nominees!

Dr. Teeth as Keith in La La Land: Okay, so just imagine that this movie is exactly the same as the La La Land we have, except it stars Jason Segel and Amy Adams as Sebastian and Mia, and when Sebastian's old rival tries to talk Seb into joining his cool new jazz combo that's going to change everything, it's just, randomly, Dr. Teeth. And then the entire band is the Electric Mayhem, except for Segel on keys? (Come to think of it, this would work with Gosling as well.)

Statler and Waldorf as the Priest in Jackie: Just think about Natalie Portman pouring her heart out to these two, only to have them laugh uproariously at her inability to process both her husband's death and what he meant to her! (This would take away John Hurt's final onscreen performance -- one I would have nominated for an Oscar -- but such is life.)

Rowlf the Dog as William in 20th Century Women: Instead of Crudup, you've got a piano-playing dog living upstairs in Annette Bening's house. This is already a pretty perfect movie, but this simple bit of recasting would make it the greatest movie ever made.

Animal as Tanner in Hell or High Water: Put Animal in the Ben Foster part? That shit writes itself, folks!

Fozzie Bear in Fozzie Foster Jenkins: Sub out a woman who wants to sing but is terrible at it with a bear who wants to tell jokes but is terrible at it, and you could pretty much just shoot the script as is with that minor alteration. Hugh Grant could probably even keep his role.

Scooter as Paul Stafford in Hidden Figures: To be honest, I don't know that there's a single part played by Jim Parsons that couldn't be played by Scooter where I would be able to tell the difference. (Yes, I know that Jim Parsons was the human version of Walter in The Muppets. But Scooter is a better Jim Parsons replacement Muppet than Walter will ever be!)

Oscar the Grouch could probably just appear in Fences: Look, I don't know that having a Muppet in an adaptation of one of the greatest stage plays in American theater history is going to make the film better, but it is about garbagemen. If we're really committed to this, Oscar just sort of hanging out in the background, listening to what's going on intently could really improve the mise en scene.

Sam the Eagle as Jeffrey in Manchester by the Sea: This movie has unfairly gotten a reputation as a major bummer, when it's actually quite funny throughout. You know what would really let people know it was okay to laugh? If Sam the Eagle played Matthew Broderick's part in that one scene. The trailer could be, like, "The moving drama that's brought audiences across the country to tears... and to their feet. Casey Affleck. Michelle Williams. Manchester by the Sea. Also starring Sam the Eagle, who says it's okay to cry, but it's okay to laugh too."

Most of the random Anything Muppets in The Lobster: This movie would be so much better if instead of an animal, you had to become a Muppet.

The Swedish Chef as Ove in A Man Called Ove: I thought this Swedish Foreign Language Film nominee was Just Okay. It would be vastly improved if the Swedish Chef played the main role, continued to speak gibberish, and all of the other Swedish people had to pretend it was actual Swedish.

The Sesame Street Martians as the Octopods in Arrival: We don't have to imagine this, actually. It already exists. Enjoy.

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Episodes is published three-ish times per week, and more if I feel like it. It is mostly about television, except when it's not. Suggest topics for future installments via email or on Twitter. Read more of my work at Vox.