>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests The Muppet Movie. The Muppet Movie starts out simply in a swamp, where Kermit rests on his lily pad picking away at his banjo. It’s folksy and homey and then — zingo! — ole Kermit gets a coupla good oneliners off, and the audience sees that Jim Henson and Company are aiming for much, much more than a simplistic kids’ story about a pile of felt. It’s an odd blend of romance, road picture, vaudeville slapstick, with a good dose of Brechtian self-reference and Beckettian self-examination, with never a whisper of condescension to the audience. It’s no wonder this project attracted a roster of A-list guest appearances too long to list here; we’ll just have to give you a taste: Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Madeline Kahn, Bob Hope. Wocka wocka wocka! Throughout, the film adeptly balances two seemingly irreconcilable tones: the sharp self-aware humor never overwhelms the movie’s gentler, earnest suffusion by rainbows and sun-dappled landscapes. It has corny moments, and it has dated moments, but overall it’s enough to make a hardened viewer stop looking for the string and the puppeteers and simply clap hands in wonder. It’s… it’s… by gum, it’s magical. You don’t get to say that very often, do you?
>>>And Dennis also suggests The Muppet Movie. Yeah, Elsa and I watched The Muppet Movie together the other night (on a double feature with Labyrinth, no less), and I’m not ashamed. I love The Muppet Movie. I laugh, hum along with ‘Movin’ Right Along’, and, yeah, get a little choked up (Kermit’s earnest desire for the best for everybody and his somehow un-corny desire to make ‘millions of people happy’ get to me every time, and his Eugene O’Neill-esque bout of desert self-analysis is just magic). Plus, it’s a ‘kid’s movie’ that doesn’t talk down to kids (or to me, for that matter), filled with in-jokes that it doesn’t bother to dumb down, and ‘adult’ behaviors enough to send Helen Lovejoy-like overprotective parents shrieking to their telephones, demanding Jim Henson’s death (too late, by the way). Kermit and Piggy (who are adults, for god’s sake), drink wine (or ‘sparkling muscatel’), and Rowlf talks about having a couple o’ beers. Guest star Orson Welles, playing a Hollywood big shot, smokes a cigar, because that’s what Hollywood big shots do. Zoot the sax player is clearly an acid casualty. Mel Brooks is obviously an-ex Nazi scientist who wants to cook Kermit’s frog brain. Madeline Kahn is a floozy hustling a frog for drinks and people in the bar are actually drinking beer! As a kid when this came out, I didn’t freak out, and I’m a relatively well-adjusted adult. Who just happens to watch The Muppet Movie from time to time.