Back when I first read that Chris Cooper had signed on for The Muppets, the combination already sounded delightfully weird. What would a leather-voiced Oscar winner want with America’s favorite felt-face musicians? Would he lead them on a drug-fueled vision quest, à la Adaptation? Or suffocate them with sociopathic rage like in American Beauty? It was a pop culture mash-up worthy of a double take. (Beware: Spoilers ahead.)
Then I saw the movie. Actually, let’s be more specific: I saw the scene in the film where Cooper, who plays oily oil baron Tex Richman, bursts into an out-of-nowhere hip hop musical number called “Let’s Talk About Me.” With a chorus of video vixens backing him up, Cooper unleashes awwww…snap verses like “I got more cheddar than some super-size nachos/got cash flow like Robert has De Niros,” and “I make the baker bake my bread outta dough/No no, don’t eat it though/It’ll make you ill/There ain’t no flour in a hundred dollar bill.”
Suddenly, it was clear that I had seriously underestimated the weirdness of the Cooper-Muppet amalgam. It wasn’t just odd. It was brain-pausing, spit-take inducing lunacy. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Muppets have always been about barely-contained chaos; their gags veer from Borscht Belt groaners to borderline anarchist propaganda. But this is, by far, one of their strangest big-screen moments, and my top candidate right now for the year’s Best Movie Non Sequitur. (Runner-up: Jack & Jill, the whole movie.)
Still, I’m betting there are people out there with different opinions. Did you think Cooper’s rap was just plain out of place? Or was it a highlight of the movie for you? Sound off in the comments!