Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Time To Meet the Muppets!

Tom's Whatnot (l.) and mine (r.), with their
singamajigs, sitting on top of some of my
Disney books. We embrace our geekdom!
I love the Muppets. (I even have one of my own from the Whatnot Workshop! See picture.) Smart, weird grown-ups who were smart, weird kids wear their love of the Muppets as a badge of honor. It kind of amazes me that a show that was so subversive was able to find a wide audience on primetime TV. I think that it goes to show that audiences are usually more intelligent than they are given credit for being. If you make them laugh and let them think, they will follow you to the most outrageous places. And The Muppet Show was pretty far out there. 

Growing up, I was a bit young to catch The Muppet Show. I began to appreciate it more when I became an adult. My knowledge of the Muppet characters was shaped by two things, for the most part. The first was Muppet Babies, which I would give my eyeteeth for a DVD release of. Unfortunately, there seem to be rights issues related to film clips used in the series and no release is planned as of now.

The Muppet Babies had such a grand sense of adventure. They had wild imaginations that took them anywhere and were a group of wacky misfits who created a family unit. They seemed so independent, with Nanny's green striped stockings only stepping in occasionally to check up on them. I remember loving the show, having the Happy Meal toys, and shaking my tush to the awesome 50's rock style theme song. Remember it? If not, it will take you all of three seconds for it all to come rushing back to you. Please to enjoy.

The other way I knew of the Muppets was through the three Muppet movies that were a staple of childhood in the 80's- The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Muppets Take Manhattan.  The Great Muppet Caper was always my favorite. Looking back now, it makes perfect sense. With a big Busby Berkeley homage, a musical number on bicycles, mystery, intrigue, Miss Piggy's triumphant motorcycle entrance, over-the-top costumes and Diana Rigg, there was plenty to keep my tiny brain transfixed.

I'd like to see the Statue of Liberty rock
a one piece as well as Miss Piggy does.
Of course, I also loved Muppet*Vision 3-D in what used to be Disney-MGM Studios. It's still there, though the park is now Disney's Hollywood Studios. The entire area is tons of fun and full of Muppet mischief. I am a huge fan of the fabulous fountain and all of the fantastic touches and details that Disney Parks are famous for adding. The movie itself still holds up very well. I remember back in the day when seeing a 3D movie was a big to-do. Theme parks were pretty much the only places where it was possible. Now, you can go to almost any movie theater, cough up and extra five bucks and you can see a whole array of second rate movies in three dimensions. The headaches, dark screens and feeling you have been had are free of charge, thankfully. What is great about the Muppet 3D movie at the Parks is that it is an experience. It is immersive. The theater is integral, the pre-show is clever, it involves costumed characters and animatronics that break the fourth wall... er... screen. And it's flat out funny. It uses the 3D effects in clever ways and maintains the quirky sense of humor that is so quintessentially Jim Henson's.

I don't know if you have heard, but there is a new movie featuring the Muppets on the way this Thanksgiving called The Muppets. Direct. To the point. No bells and whistles. Me likey. No doubts about what you're gonna see when you buy a ticket. You'll see the Muppets. And that is awesomesauce. The team behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which I have not seen, is behind this, so I am going on blind faith that they put the film in good hands.

When they started putting out trailers, it became obvious that the people in the marketing department were being very smart, creating a campaign that pokes fun at other films brilliantly with tongue planted firmly in cheek. When I saw the first trailer, I thought, "Ooh, awesome. Amy Adams is in another movie! What is this?" I thought it was some typical romantic comedy and then... BOOM! Muppets! My brain melted with excitement!

I am obsessed with Amy Adams. Soon I will talk about Enchanted and how I feel gypped by the fact that Giselle isn't a full-blown princess.

They followed this trailer with two more in a similar vein. This one is a parody of The Hangover 2.

And this one is a parody of The Green Lantern

The parodies were funny. I thought it was a really great way to put the movie and the characters on the radar in a big way. But they have finally released a trailer that is actually a preview of the movie in earnest. And it looks radtastic. 

They had me at "fart shoes". I must say that the way they are rolling out the movie has been very well-played. They have built buzz and gotten people very excited about Muppet domination. I, for one, can't wait! 

I leave you with one more video of my favorite Muppet. Make sure you watch it with captions turned on.

So who is your favorite Muppet? And how stoked are you about The Muppets this Thanksgiving?!? If the answer is "Not very," then please don't tell me. I respect you too much not to respect you anymore.

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