Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Muppet Movie

Here we are again, Fishing in the Discount Bin.  Watching a movie I own and then blogging about it because why not?  This time out, one of my childhood favourites, The Muppet Movie.  This pops up in my notes at August 30, 2013.

The Muppet Movie movie posters

OK.  I'm going to put this out there.  I've known this since I was 7 years old, and I've never told anybody.  But I want it to be known in case something horrible or tragic happens to me and I'm no longer here.  Please don't get weirded out...I just want this to be known. 

I want The Rainbow Connection played at my funeral.

I don't exactly remember when I first saw The Muppet Movie, but when I first did, I knew that was the most beautiful song ever, and that's the song I want to hear when it's time to go. 

The Muppet Movie is just a beautiful film.  I'm not sure of how else to describe it.  There's true movie magic in this film. At the time, the special effects were considered quite cutting edge.  This was the first time the Muppets left the safety of the TV studio and actually interacted with  the real world, and the new puppeteering techniques they had to develop to pull it off was groundbreaking.  There was the possibility that this would become just a special effects film, or a shameless cash grab (this was made between seasons 3 and 4 of The Muppet Show), but instead, you get something that makes me all misty-eyed. 

If it's been a while since you've seen it, Kermit the Frog tells us at the beginning that this is the "almost-true" story of how the Muppets all met each other.  It opens with Kermit strumming his banjo in his swamp, when a big-time Hollywood agent on a fishing holiday (played by Dom DeLuise, in the first of the film's many, many, many celebrity cameos) overhears Kermit's singing, and encourages Kermit to head to Hollywood and try show business.  So, Kermit leaves the swamp. and the film is a road movie, as along they way, Kermit meets many other classic Muppets, and they join Kermit on his journey.

But of course, we need a villain.  The villain in this film is Doc Hopper, a Colonel Sanders spoof.  Doc Hopper owns a chain of French Fried Frogs Legs restaurants, and, taken with Kermit's talent, tries to sign Kermit as his chain's new mascot.  While Kermit does want to achieve fame and fortune and entertain millions, he's not going to do it on the backs of his fellow frogs.  Doc Hopper soon becomes obsessed with Kermit, deciding that if he can't have Kermit work for him, then no one can. 

It even has a few fourth-wall-breaking gags that I think were probably ahead of their time.  For example, shortly after Kermit and Fozzie meet Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, Fozzie starts telling them how they got there.  Kermit, however, knows that recounting the plot thus far would probably bore the audience, tells Fozzie to stop recapping and just gives Dr. Teeth a copy of the film's script to read.  The gag pays off later when Kermit and the rest of the Muppets who've joined him up to that point car breaks down in the middle of the desert.  Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem show up in their bus to offer a ride, and when Kermit asks how they found them, Dr. Teeth points out that they forgot their script, and they read ahead. 

As I mentioned, the celebrity cameos.  A virtual who's-who of the late-1970s pop culture landscape is on hand.  Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Eliot Gould, and classic old-timey performers like Bob Hope and Milton Berle all show up.  And, of course, one great cameo by Big Bird.  ("I'm on my way to New York to break into public television!") 

And the ending is just so beautiful as they make it to Hollywood, and start filming the movie we just finished watching, and speaking of celebrity cameos, at the end, we get this massive chorus of damn near every Muppet that existed up to that point in history, as they sing the film's final words:

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending.
Keep believing, keep pretending,
We've done what we've set out to do.
Just like the lovers, the dreamers, and you."

Just something about this movie and those final words have always stuck with me.  I forgot how much I love this movie.

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