Thinking about the Muppets

On Sunday I went to see The Muppets. Being a Generation X child who was six years old in 1979 when the first film was released I had high expectations. I had been following the stream of trailers leading up to the film’s official release. I had been sad when I realised it would be at least a week before I could get to a cinema to see the movie. I had heard that Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords was doing the music. I am a big FOTC fan so that was okay by me. I had spent much of my childhood watching the television series. I quite like Jason Segal and Amy Adams. So here’s my verdict after a few days of mulling the whole thing over in my mind. I enjoyed it but I won’t go to see it again. There were lots of lovely moments, there was fun, there were winks to the audience, the songs were good although they sounded like FOTC songs rather than Muppet songs, there were great choices of cameos, Chris Cooper made an admirable villain. This was all very well and good. But for me, it didn’t “feel” like a Muppet movie. While I think the love of the Muppets that ran through the narrative was genuine, it was for me, too nostalgic. It relied on Muppet history so much that there was a sense that there was no moving forward. It was treading the fine line of when good postmodernism goes bad. And although it asked the question as to why the Muppets might have been forgotten with their yesteryear vaudevillian charms, it didn’t quite recapture the tone of the Jim Henson glory days, thus providing its own answer. Perhaps Frank Oz was wise not to be involved. Perhaps he realised that there was no going back. My reaction to the movie was different to my sister’s. She is 12 years younger than me. She didn’t spend her childhood watching the tv show, or listening to the original movie soundtrack over and over and over on the cassette player in the car. She doesn’t like it when I sing Rainbow Connection in my faux opera voice. She doesn’t know the joke about the fork in the road. She doesn’t have the same relationship with the Muppets that I do. We are of different generations. Many of our pop culture references are the same but in terms of Muppets we seem to be different. I vaguely remember reading once someone (it may have been Neil Finn) saying that the music you love when you are 25 stays with you for life. The same might be true for the pop culture of your childhood. It stays with you in a way that is unlike anything else that follows. And I think this explains my reaction to The Muppets. I didn’t not like it. I appreciated the effort and the sincerity that had gone into it’s production, but when the nuances of the voices of Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Kermit and Rowlf (to name a few) jar, when you find yourself wishing you were watching the original Rainbow Connection, not a do-over, you realise that you are pining for the original experience, but by the same token there is no way you can recapture that moment.


2 Responses to “Thinking about the Muppets”

  1. 2paw says:

    You can't go back, can you?? Thanks for the review and the thoughts. And the Rainbow Connection!!

  2. Wendy says:

    my pleasure…thanks for reading 🙂

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