27 February 2010

The Muppet Movie

Every once in a while, someone asks me what my favorite musical is. Not that there aren't a couple of good choices, even for a musical-skeptic like myself, but I always forget the goddamn Muppets.

This movie is fucking nutso genius. It's emotionally deep, heartwarming and sad and incredibly funny in an unironic, unhip, oldschool funny way. Henson was such an earnest storyteller, I just don't see how you could tell this story in today's vernacular. This is a heart-on-your-sleeve movie. And you know how I'm always on about character? Well this is a ninety-minute episodic road movie in which it's almost impossible not to care about a bunch of felt puppets. To quote a song from the film: Can you picture that?

I don't want to dwell on it, but I have to mention: I've always felt there was a strange leery-of-love Yoko Ono vibe to Miss Piggy. She bullies her way into the life of our noncommittal-at-best hero. She consistently looks out for herself and nobody else, and is touchy to the point of outright hostility. The others grumble openly and barely tolerate her (except Gonzo, who loves her, but he's "weird"). Kermit seems downright resistant to the idea of giving in to her bullying ideas of love, but too passive to ever say no (he comes close once, telling her "he doesn't give a hoot" after she ditches him when their date ends in a kidnapping and nearly torture). It's all very unromantic, kind of brooding, somewhere between cynical and pathetic. Miss Piggy, the one and only lead lady Muppet, is as unappealing a character as the show has. I'm not accusing them of sexism or anything else -- I love the Muppets as much as I did as a kid, but with the appreciative eyes of a sad-hearted adult -- I'm just saying: Miss Piggy is a strange study, and I wonder what it says of Jim Henson's views of love and sex.

(Yikes, another long tangential rant. I've got to watch myself. The "brevity" spirit of this blog is slipping.)

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