Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Word About THE MUPPETS Movie

I believe I've mentioned this before and I'm sure I'll mention it again at some point, but I was partially "raised" by The Muppets. What I mean by that is that I watched a lot of Muppets growing up: SESAME STREET (it used to actually be good tv), THE MUPPET SHOW, FRAGGLE ROCK, and THE STORYTELLER. All those shows had Muppets (and in most cases Jim Henson had a hand in designing them in some way). I think THE MUPPET SHOW was my favorite. It was this sweet show with a huge heart that never spoke down to kids. The humor of THE MUPPET SHOW was classic humor: it's the type of stuff they used to do on vaudeville, radio, and in the golden age of television. Sometimes the humor was subtle, sometimes it was corny, but it was humor that people from every age and walk of life could enjoy. You don't see that very much anymore. Jokes are beaten to the point they are dead and the humor isn't even humor anymore. In short, THE MUPPET SHOW was full of wit and in our current cultural landscape, wit has been forgotten.

THE MUPPETS is a movie all about bringing back wit in this forgotten age. It's about friends, family, and finding your place in the world. It's a movie that dares to threaten the void that is our cultural landscape and shout, "Hey, you think you're funny? You're not funny. This is funny!" At the same time, there is a thread of irony that runs through the film. All through the movie Kermit and the gang question themselves that, perhaps, they really aren't relevant anymore. As the villain of the film proudly boasts, the world has moved on since the Muppets last were popular (the last Muppet movie was MUPPETS IN SPACE released in the summer of 1999-I can tell you where I was when I saw it and even give you the location of the theatre). The world's a much more dark, sinister, and dangerous place. No planes had flown into skyscrapers when a Muppet movie last played in movie theatres. In 1999, unemployment in the U.S. hovered around 4%, the lowest it had been in 30 years and the longest war in U.S. history was still that conflict in Vietnam (Afghanistan, where's that?).

Yet, though this is a darker and more dangerous world, there still is goodness. The Muppets are good, they are joyful, and they are hopeful. We can all do with a lot more of that in our lives.

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