Acting for Two: In Muppet tradition. Lampshaded in an interview where Piggy does pitch-perfect "impersonations" of Fozzie and Animalnote all now performed by Eric Jacobson, but does an an absolutely pathetic Kermit impressionnote he's performed by Steve Whitmire.
All There in the Manual: The Muppets' Junior Novelization explains several unexplained aspects of the movie story, including why Tex Richman is unable to laugh, 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.
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.
As typical for a Muppet movie, many famous celebrities appear as The Cameo, with no In-Universe recognition of who they are, while others are acknowledged.
For the TV network to air their telethon, the Muppets are required to have a celebrity. They decide to kidnap Jack Black for it.
During the telethon, 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: When the telethon ended, the fundraiser tracker showed that the Muppets were just one dollar away from their ten million dollar goal when the phone lines were cut! But this becomes a Subverted Trope when accidental Percussive Maintenance by Fozzie shows 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. The first one is Walter earning his Yoga merit badge by tying his own limbs in the same knots Gary tied in ropes for his knot-tying merit badge. Doubles as Human Knot.
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!
The Sequel confirms this as canon, as that plot kicks off immediately after they're done filming this movie
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 characterfelt..." 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, Camilla's singing number of Fu... er, Forget Younote As a promo, Camilla had sung it at the Grammy Awards, prior to the film., and Lew Zealand having an important role in the kidnapping of Jack Black. And who expected Thog to make an appearance?
Ascended Fanboy: Walter dreams about getting to join the Muppets, and finally gets his chance when Kermit asks him to do a skit for the telethon. After the telethon, Kermit invites Walter to join their act permanently, which he does, after checking with his brother Gary.
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.". In an interview, Walter would mention that he is a regular visitor to that website.
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, though they are considerably ruder, uglier, and trashier than the Muppets.
Berserk Button: Mentioning anything related to drums works both Animal and Jack Black into a frenzy. Jack Black also hates the word Tuesday.
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.
Bittersweet Ending: The Muppets completely fail to buy back the studio, but are back in the public eye and decide that the studio wasn't that important - what is important is making people laugh. Played for laughs shortly after, in which Tex gets a concussion and decides to give them back their studio. Absolutely NOT related to the concussion.
Broad Strokes: The only things from the Muppets pastnote in the context of this film's backstory that we know for sure happened are The Muppet Show and the events of The Muppet Movie. This continues a long tradition of each current Muppet production picking and choosing which previous productions count. Justified, the Muppets have gone on press stating this is only a movie and they're all just playing themselves.
Muppet Babies aired (there are a few pieces of memorabilia from that show in Gary and Walter's house), but that could simply be an animated show in-universe rather than events that happened to the characters (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.
It's more clear in The Muppets' Junior Novel: 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).
Butt Monkey: Jack Black. You know you have it bad when even Beaker gets to heap on the abuse!
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.
Call Back: Several references to previous Muppet TV shows and movies are important to the plot.
The original Muppet Theater from The Muppet Show is a central location. The deed to the theater and studio are included within the original Standard "Rich and Famous" Contract from The Muppet Movie.
The hole in the ceiling of the Muppet Theater may have also been the same one from the end of The Muppet Movie that the rainbow shines through.
At one point, Walter, Gary and Mary are trying to motivate Kermit. They use the first three lines from The Muppet Show intro during this. The actual intro itself is played again at the start of the Show Within a Show.
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!".
The Cameo: As noted on the Awesome page, they had more requests for cameos than they had spots to put them in!
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. Lampshaded and mocked during the telethon, when Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris, and many others approach to cameo on the Show Within a Show and end up running the phones. NPH lampshades his standard Special Telecast appearances: "No, I don't know why I'm not hosting this."
Earlier in the movie, DaveGrohl shows up as Animool, Animal's counterpart in the Moopets.
Michaela Conlin can be seen for a second as one of the fans outside the Muppet Theater at the end.
Jim Parsons is the "Man" version of Walter in "Man or Muppet".
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.
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. note (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. 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.
At one point, it is mentioned that you just need one person to love you. "Just One Person," from one of the Peanuts musicals, Snoopy The Musical, was Jim Henson's favorite song and was featured both in the Bernadette Peters episode of The Muppet Show and the tribute special released shortly after his death.
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 herpreviousinteractionswiththeHensongang.
The riff that plays whenever Kermit and Piggy have a scene together is from "The First Time It Happens" from The Great Muppet Caper.
In the trailers, Statler and Waldorf asking if the Muppets film will be in 3D is a reference 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.
Dark Is Not Evil: Uncle Deadly lampshades this trope as he points out his Evil Brit accent and his scary name doesn't actually make him evil. He declares himself a Muppet, not a Moopet. While laughing maniacally, of course.
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".
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.
Dave Goelz's characters (Gonzo, Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot) get very little to do here. At first this seems a bit bizarre, since Dave is one of the only puppeteers from The Muppet Show era still performing his characters consistently but when one realizes Goelz had shoulder surgery just before filming began, his characters' reduced roles makes sense.
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.
Dirty Communists: According to some, this film is nothing but Communist propaganda, in which the heroes are poor people, and the rich business man is the villain.
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, which absolutely did not cause his personality to change!
This applies to Walter as well. His whole life growing up was a constant struggle, and one of the few things that helped him get through was his brother Gary and his love for the Muppets. He not only managed to bring back his heroes together to save the show, but was acknowledged as one of them so unconditionally that it was nothing less of a dream come true. The scene just before the final music number was him being lifted by the Muppets in front of their cheering fans.
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."
Uncle Deadly: Now that's a maniacal laugh for you!
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.
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. Reused when they try trespassing onto Kermit's house, to warn him about Richman's plan.
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.
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.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Kermit's discarded pile of "celebrity" phone numbers include Corey Feldman, Barbara Walters and Cyndi Lauper.
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.
When the camera pans over the Muppets who are answering phones, one is chewing on the phone rather than talking on it.
And when Mary looks out the window after being asked if she minds Walter coming on the trip with them, you see the extras in the first big dance number laying around exhausted, including an elderly woman with an oxygen mask and a woman in heels being carried away on a stretcher.
Genre Savvy: A traditional part of the Muppet films/acts is that they know they're in a film, so Walter, The Big Bad, Mary, everyone really gets an oppourtunity to make No Fourth Wall jokes or give a warning/advice based on how previous Muppet films have gone.
Spoofed: Mary's song, as she laments Gary's over-devotion 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:
Gary, I've gone home. I love you, but you have to decide. Are you a man... or a muppet? Mary
...which results in the despondent Gary walking the lonely empty streets of Hollywood just as it begins to rain.
Hard Work Montage: To the tune of "We Built This City", the Muppets restore the theatre to its old brilliance (excepting a hole in the roof). It also got a heavy lampshading by having the Muppets watch Scooter sweep while humming a bit and commenting that it's pretty boring, until Walter pipes up to remind them that they always did that to music.
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 off the theater roof.
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 Depths: 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.
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, but everything works out anyway.
Averted with Gonzo: Gonzo is a very successful businessman, of course he'll have 10 million dollars to spare, right? Or at least a couple thousand, getting them started. But before the audience can even think about this, Gonzo does a Gonzo thing and destroys his business.
I Wish It Were 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 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.
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's 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.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Take a look at the poster on the page. That's not all of them, that's just the Muppets they could fit. There's 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.
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.
"So... do you think we're working for the bad guy?"
A Minor Kidroduction: The movie starts with a montage of Gary and Walter growing up in their hometown of Smalltown.
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.
Misplaced-Names Poster: Just look at it. Walter (the Muppet) is evidently played by Amy Adams and Chris Cooper is playing a girl who looks like Amy Adams.
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).
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: NOT IN SWEDISH. Trailer: WE PROMISE.
Lots of edits were made between the trailer and the final cut. The electric fence and the awkward quietness in the crowded car are no longer Overly Long Gags.
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? Both: WOHHHHH HOH HOH HOH HOH.
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:
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 "Mahna mahna" into the camera.
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."
In the bloopers reel, Hobo Joe makes a crack about the chicken being done, at which point a singed chicken of Gonzo's walks out of his fire-pit. One of the hobo puppets makes a crack about having ordered it To-Go, and around 2 minutes is spent with Hobo Joe needing it explained to him.
Overly-Long Scream: Walter, after he finds out the Big Bad's evil scheme. It lasts for not quite 20 seconds in the theatrical release. 20 seconds... which translates to three scene changes. Gary and Mary may have heard him for hours.
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.
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.
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 fillet 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.
Psycho Rangers: The Moopets gradually become this, as it's eventually revealed that Tex Richman plans to replace the real Muppets with them, believing that the original gang's shameless optimism and goodheartedness have no place in the modern world.
Put on a Bus: Most of the "newer" Muppets that premiered on Muppets Tonight were put aside to bring back a more retro feel. Pepe the Prawn and Bobo are the sole exceptions. This is somewhat ironic as many of the "original" Muppets were Put on a Bus to make room for said newer Muppets when Muppets Tonight was in development.
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-of-universe: A fan of the Muppets dreams of bringing them back to fame and work with them! Coincidence?note This film wouldn't have happened if Jason Segel hadn't pulled a lot of strings.
Rousing Speech: Kermit gives 2 - the first one is subverted, as he's talking about how kids are "better than all this junk" in an effort to get the telethon on the air... only to get a door slammed in his face by a Junior Executive at the network bearing news that Punch Teacher was canceled due to complaints from the PTA, so they need something to fill the time-slot. The second one is given in full, and is quite heartwarming.
Serkis Folk: In-movie example, with Jack Black appearing on a movie lot in a motion capture suit, allowing him to make a joke about balls.
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.
They use a similar trick (having it be sung by the chickens) to get away with including Cee-Lo Green's "Fuck You" in the show, although the chickens clearly sing two syllables, indicating that it's the radio edit of "Forget You".
In the movie, yes; on the longer soundtrack version there are a couple of times where seems to be only one cluck...
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.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Walter gets more focus than any other character, even Kermit (it's debatable whether Gary and Mary get more focus than the main Muppets as well). Thankfully, the guy turned out to be an immensely popular and likeable character, preventing him from becoming the Creator's Pet he could have easily become.
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."
Stealth Pun/Parental Bonus: Camilla the Chicken and company cluck out Cee-Lo's "Forget You" - or, better known as its uncensored version, "Cluck 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 anger management 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.
"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", which allows our heroes to get into Miss Piggy's office. She is notably chagrined when she realizes what happened.
Miss Piggy: [Head Desk] I can't believe I fell for "Muppet Man"!
Underdogs Never Lose: The telethon becomes massively popular, despite financial issues, 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. And Tex gives them back everything, anyway. Change of heart absolutely NOT related to the concussion he receives.
Unlimited Wardrobe: True to form (and her job), Miss Piggy's always seen in some fancy outfit for nearly every new scene.
Villain Song: Tex Richman's rap song, "Let's Talk About Me".
What Happened to the Mouse?: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, excluding easy-to-miss appearances in most of the crowd scenes towards the end.
He's even on the spine of the Blu-ray along with Kermit, and on both spines of the O-Sleeve. One would think they're doing it deliberately or something...