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Excellent Frank Oz Interview (2014)

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by MrBloogarFoobly, Aug 24, 2014.

  1. Cookie Chris

    Cookie Chris Member

    I watched the interview last Thursday, and thoroughly enjoyed a deeper insight into Frank Oz's life and career. Although I still haven't seen Muppets Most Wanted yet, I can understand Oz's attitude to the Disneyfication of the Muppets since the "affectionate anarchy" does seem too be missing in the Muppets nowadays, but in reality, it's about one-in-the-same as it was with the post-Jim Henson era throughout the 1990s and early 2000s with different voices of some of the Muppets and different teams of writers that bring their own creative flair to the Muppets. Oh well, it's what Jim Henson wanted to sell the Muppets to Disney.
     
    jvcarroll likes this.
  2. MrBloogarFoobly

    MrBloogarFoobly Well-Known Member

    People, yeah, Jim Henson wanted to sell the company to Disney, but he was planning to be involved in all the projects, in some capacity. It's completely different. I don't really think this is what Henson had in mind. Not that it matters now.
     
  3. jvcarroll

    jvcarroll Well-Known Member

    I think Disney's vision is a mixed bag of what Jim would-have and wouldn't-have wanted.

    For example:
    • I think it's likely he would have wanted the viral web performances, public appearances and the tone of MMW.
    • I don't think he'd have wanted quite so many commercial product even though he did approve ones for American Express and Polaroid in his lifetime. I also don't think he'd have liked the tone of TM, but the truth is there would have been no need for it if Jim had been here all along.
    However, he also expressed interest in wanting to move on from the Muppets and have Disney handle a lot of what it took to keep their profile alive. In the end, it's anyone's guess I guess. :p
     
    MrBloogarFoobly likes this.
  4. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    The funny thing is, in the case of the three major Disney purchases of the past decade, the only one that wasn't willingly sold to them was Marvel. They could have pretty much handled everything fine on their own. But whatever. Their Marvel movies are better than Fox and Sony's.

    But Muppets was sold to them by Henson and Star Wars was sold to them by Lucas. And I'm sure the Star Wars fans whining about Disney's buyout are the same ones that hated every decision George made since Return of the Jedi anyway.

    Now, I'll agree that some level of chaos is missing, but it's one that's been missing since the 90's. There were cases of overcompensating for the adult factor that only gave us innuendos and rude humor more associated with The Land of Gorch (by which the SNL writers' take the Henson crew had no control over), than the other Muppets. I mean, I read that Fox show outline and it was horrid. Should still be around on Classic Muppets somewhere. There's a certain factor of the Muppets from Jim and Jerry Juhl that cannot be duplicated, no matter how hard they try... and trying's probably the problem as this stuff should flow naturally.

    Even if the Muppets were still owned by Henson and companies actually wanted to partner up with them to make movies, we'd see the same complaints. Only they'd play to a jaded audience of college kids that want the Muppets to say unfunny rude things. There's a difference between adult humor and "adult" humor. It's the difference between the brilliant Rick and Morty and a subpar Robot Chicken skit about Cobra Commander getting high. If the Muppets went into the direction the almost partnership between Fox and Henson, it would have been the latter.
     
    jvcarroll likes this.
  5. antsamthompson9

    antsamthompson9 Well-Known Member

    This is an exact quote from someone on the TP forum that I want you guys to weigh in on: While I think Frank has a full right to his opinion, the fact that he is so connected to the franchise makes it hard to have an unbiased opinion, which is understandable. The last two movies have been very sweet, he's right about that. But the movies have always been sweeter. His own work on MTM is very sweet, but to be fair he directed it, he didn't write it. TMM is very sweet as well, the moment where Kermit tells Doc Hopper about being a family sticks out to me. My point is is that the movies have always been sweeter than TMS was, dating back to TMM. Are M11 and MWW sweeter than those? Probably, but the movies have always been much sweeter than a typical episode of TMS. Other than the movies, Disney hasn't done much with them. I'd love to know the things in the last two movies he does like about them. It sounds like he has no issues with the puppeteers, or how the job they're doing. I wonder how often he talks to Eric, and what they say to each other. Another great thing to hear is his thoughts on Sesame. Since he still comes back for a day or two each season I'm sure his words would be even more cautious.
     
  6. antsamthompson9

    antsamthompson9 Well-Known Member

    This is an exact quote from Frank on the World of Jim Henson: "If you look at a lot of the pieces on the Muppet Show, that came from Jim, there was a tremendous sweetness about them, a tremendous sweetness, and that's unique to Jim. Jim was never wimpy, he had a strength in his sweetness, it was great." So I don't understand Frank's complaints.
     
    Duke Remington likes this.
  7. jvcarroll

    jvcarroll Well-Known Member

    I get what you're saying. Sure, there was a sweetness. Nobody can deny that. But there's a difference between Jim's "unique sweetness" and the gooey saccharine moments of some of the post-Jim writing. The Swedish Chef hugging the chickens in TM is one of the best examples of the skewed tone. It might seem subtle, but it sets the characters in a two-dimensional course that MMW corrected.

    Each Muppet at his or her or its' core is motivated by self interest and sees only through the prism of their limited experiences. They do not deviate from that and that's precisely what creates the humor. They are not mean. They are not syrupy sweet. They are both earnest and anarchic at the same time. They don't hold onto a touching moment for long before somebody blows something up, makes an inane comment or tosses a penguin. A lot of Jim Henson's classic humor would have seemed out of place in TM. Sometimes a monster eats a character and that's that. Gonzo often speaks of his masochism, but we rarely see his mangled body like we did on TMS. These are the things missing from TM.

    I'm not complaining so much as pointing out the deviation. I loved TM. I also love Walter. I wrote a whole article about him over a the Muppet Mindset. However, it was more of a tribute than a movie. I know a lot of people didn't like the gulag wall ending. There was a little bit of bad bluescreening, but I thought it was perfect. They're all together yet in a less than ideal circumstance.
     
    Duke Remington likes this.
  8. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I'd say the worst offender would have been LTS. I understand that Gonzo has understated, quiet moments from time to time, but he seemed just chronically depressed in that one. That one wasn't just gooey, it was practically oozing saccharine. Even Paul Williams's songs in that one were almost over the top in cutesyness. I liked that special and all, but it really lacked any hardcore wacky Muppet moments. Even the Jim Henson Memorial special, the most somber of all Muppet projects, had the Accounting Marching Band bit. And just before the biggest tearjerker in the Muppet franchise hit, too.

    Then again, for all Jerry's effort, the wackier bits in MCC felt off and tacked on...well... 'cept for "LIGHT THE LAMP! NOT THE RAT!!!"

    Then there's the opposite of the scale seen in VMX (though not that bad), the script of the unsold Fox Muppet Show (and be ever so thankful we were never cursed with that one), and especially... that telefilm I shall not speak the name of. While I think VMX was a step in the right direction of putting the wacky back, there were notes of Simpsons and Family Guy (at the time Family Guy that is) humor. And while it did work for that special, attempts to create it with...the other thing... were lacking at best. That film almost seemed to be heartless! Soulless even.

    I agree about the overly emotionally wrought TM movie. They were trying to strike a balance there. They almost got it, I can appreciate. What bugs me is that the exact emotional tone was what the public liked about the film that shied them away from the genuinely Muppety MMW.
     


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