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The sad state of Muppet Movies since Jim Henson's death

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Cleopigtra, Dec 29, 2002.

  1. Cleopigtra

    Cleopigtra Member

    Not to ruffle to many feathers, but I believe that since Jim Henson left this life, the Muppets have not been as edgy as they once were. There is very little that is aww worthy, and the songs have lost some heart. The first three Muppet films all had songs nominated for Grammys and Oscars. Do you remember how you felt when the gang rode bikes? when Piggy did water ballet? Those great songs like 'Movin Right Along', 'The Rainbow Connection', and 'The Happiness Hotel'? Songs that made you want to get up and dance? When is the last time the Muppets had to face adversaries as cold as Doc Hopper or Lady Holiday's brother? To better the Muppets, to bring about these old feelings in a new generation, we need writers who remember the Muppets, who on't think they're merely cute, but see them as the little worlds of potential that Jim Henson saw them for.
  2. Bulldawg

    Bulldawg Well-Known Member

    i disagee

    Sure it was a big loss when the founder/creator of the Muppets passed away but you have to realize that there were many great people surrounding him that helped get the whole thing off the ground...
    we still have all the major puppeters, and if you look closely at all the movies(minus Manhattan), Jerry Juhl had a hand in the writing process of ALL the muppet films
    i mean come on...you cant tell me that 'Treasure Island' and 'in Space' wasnt down right hilarious.

    and it doesnt really bother me that they arent nominated anymore... because Muppets to me were never about that... i really didnt care for the songs... i liked that i could laugh forever.
  3. Gonzo

    Gonzo Well-Known Member

    I do think there's a marked difference in the first three movies and the more recent three (since Jim's death); I don't know that I'd say the new ones are inferior...they're just different.

    The Great Muppet Caper is my favorite of the Muppet films, and I don't know if there will EVER be another Muppet movie that compares to it in my book...but I know there are people on this board whose favorites are "Muppet Treasure Island" and even "Muppets From Space," which I really didn't like.

    I do think you've hit the nail on the head though--that it's the writers/songwriters who make the biggest difference. I think there are moments in every Muppet film (so far) where the original wit and spirit of the Muppets comes through...but there are times it's painful to wait for those moments.

  4. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I agree with Quinn. The songs and writing in Muppet movies is what makes them special.

    I didn't like Muppets From Space. I was embarrassed to be in the theater. I try to look at it as the characters going through growing pains. I hope I never see that low caliber sort of attempt from them again. Yes, the first 10 minutes were good, but the rest was just terrible in my opinion.

    My faves are The Muppet Movie and Great Muppet Caper. Those films are what Muppets are all about in my eyes. I also enjoyed their new special. There is definitely room for improvement, but they are headed in the right direction.
  5. Gonzo

    Gonzo Well-Known Member

    "Growing pains" is a good way to put it...a transitional period without Jim and Richard (and Frank, really) where they can learn their way around their new selves...."IAVMMCM" or whatever it is sort of felt like a breakthrough in many ways, most notably that Eric Jacobson and others have finally officially taken over Piggy, Fozzie, and other key characters, they've revoiced the significant minor characters as well, and the cast is in place for something good. And big. Big and good.

    And big.


    (and good)
  6. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Well it has definately been a era of transition for JHC and the Muppets. But I think soon hopefully, in the coming year we'll finally be out of this decade plus mess.

    Btw Jamie...another thing we agree on! Though I Say the first 15 minutes of MFS rocked! hehe(As well as any scene that has Pepe)

    1999 saw two theatrical Muppet films(the other being Grouchland), both of which while having nice cinematography were less than stellar. Since then weve had Kermit's Swamp Years and Very Muppet Xmas. Ok, not exactly Muppet film proper, definately cool they are out of the 'classic fairy tale' retelling.

    To me five ingredient are needed to make a Muppet film special:

    REAL LIFE location shots(not a bunch of sound stages) JH original concepts for the movies were to take the Muppets out of the theatre and into real life locations. Sadly that hasnt happened since Follow That Bird.

    Original moving music. My goodness, I think VMC had the first actual Muppet song in ages.

    Chemistry. We just really havent seen the chemistry as high powered as before. In MFS it didnt seem urgent for the Muppets to band together as it did in the Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan.

    Very little screen time of human only scenes. Biy VMC dropped the ball in that aspect.

    Smart writing. All these cameos of b stars just for some suspended sense of 'timeliness'(ie: MFS, VMC) is pretty lame.
    Maybe something within the fabric of current JHC could allow for the conditions for Jerry Juhl(AKA The master Muppet writer) to come back...as I almost wanna puke at some of the ideas JHC has been thinking of for future 'movies'.
  7. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    As Jim Henson himself said once (just paraphrasing): "A movie should leave me feeling good inside." I've felt that way with all Muppet films. Not the same way with each one, some more than others, but that's the way I feel. I feel good inside. That's what I want. I want anything I do to make people feel good, while at the same time making 'em laugh their pants off!
  8. Cleopigtra

    Cleopigtra Member

    Scooter is right. What I feel is slowly seaping out of the films and how the Muppets are presented is an appreciation for all ages. Though there are a lot of in jokes and some adult humor, the celebrities in the films seem to be treating them as kids movies. Matthew Lillard and Molly Shannon were the two 'humans' dealing with the Muppets that didn't seem like they were dealing with small children. The celebrities in days past didn't seem to talk down to the Muppets so much, thus they did not seem to be talking down to the many adults who enjoy the Muppets.
    Does this make any sense?:confused:
  9. sarah_yzma

    sarah_yzma Well-Known Member

    *nods head in agreement* pepe will soon be a classic muppet....no matter what i think
  10. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I think Joan Cusack did a good job too. She didn't really talk down to them. She was just manic. I cracked up everytime she was on screen. Very funny. I don't think she gets much credit for her performance in the special.

    I think Cory hit the nail on the head about ingredients of a successful Muppet project. I think the real issue over the past decade has been lack of focus. Henson can't decide which direction they want to go with the Muppets.

    The one thing they have forgotten is that the characters must reflect the times. This did not happen on Muppets Tonight. The whole - vintage TV studio/Arsenio Hall-esque - thing was still quite retro. When they finally chop the ponytail off Janice's hair, I will be assured that they finally get it.

    The special is a hint that they know what they are doing. Still not quite there, but close. They know that even the young audience is savvier than what they came up with in MFS and some of the other projects. It's okay for the little ones not to get the joke and it's okay if some ultra conservative parents object. Some people reportedly objected to the "sexual tension" with Piggy and Kermit on the original Muppet Show. (Check the other threads)

    Call it "edge" or whatever you like, but I view it as the Muppets waking up after a long sleep. They are not characters that make ferrie tales or kid's films. They are an adult group of characters that we can identify with. Some folks still lump them together with their Sesame counterparts and that is a big mistake. I think those who object to the recent "edge" just don't like the term (and I agree that it isn't the right term to use). It's not really edge, it's what they've always done - just in the year 2002 intstead of 1979. It'll take some time to get up to speed, but they are miles closer than they were just months ago.
  11. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Agreed. I hate to see it, but I feel those individuals who only see the Muppets as old nostalgia, has beens, kiddy fodder, never gonna come back, etc are not real fans. Real fans while really having a deep appreciation of the rich 50 year legacy are also looking towards the future.

    That said, for those who say they dont wanna see the Muppets go edgy? Ha! Theyve always been...just only at certain times were they really out there...examples of some unrefutable evidences of the Muppets just really being ahead of their times/and or edgy:

    Sex and Violence: The Muppet Show pilot(1974)
    Jim Henson Hour(you think VMC had 'inuendo'? hehe)
    Jim Frawley Screen Test(1978)
    The Land of gorch(Saturday Night Live 1975-1976)

    Anyways, my biggest hope for the Muppets is that JHC really pushes forward some astonishingly out of the box ideas...Ive already mentioned some of my ideas.

    One thing though that is a must: FOCUS! No more classic tales retold(MCC, MTI, Muppet Classic Theatre, Cinderelmo, Frog Prince, Hey Cinderella!) No more non cohesive half attempts(KSY, VMC)

    And I cannot stress this enough: ACTUAL REAL LIFE LOCATIONS!
  12. Cleopigtra

    Cleopigtra Member

    I don't want you to think I think of the Muppets only in a nostalgic sense. Like all of you, I get really excited when any new Muppet thing (movie, action figure, tattoo design, etc.) comes out. It's just that in seeing how some of the films from MTI on, have left me wondering what the writers have been thinking. These people must love the Muppets as much as us to work on these projects. It just seems to me that they have in some ways forgotten why they fell in love with them in the first place. You definitelly hit the nail on the head when you said real place locations. I disagree with the statement by Scooter (which I'm hoping was a metaphor) about cutting Janice's hair. Do you not remember the shag look Sam was sporting in the theater in VMC?
  13. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Let's not talk about that;)

    But yes, real life locations! At least KSY had a real swamp.

    Finally, I think the Electric Mayhem needs to get out of the late 60's/early 70's and get some new threads.

    Im thinking a shiny silver space goth look...maybe even an 80's new wave style? I dont know, but the 70's gotta go!
  14. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Janice's hair

    Janice's current hair style made it's debut in 1984's Muppets Take Manhattan. It reflected the 80s sense of style and she's been trapped with the retro do ever since. I don't see many women (over the age of seven years old) sporting such a style which turns it into a hair-don't. I wish they would just let her hair down. Some have wondered if the ponytail keeps her locks out of her face, but there are other ways to achieve that.

    About Sam's hair in the special. It seems the only ones who take issue with the tupe are the younger crowd that didn't get that it was a joke. A sight-gag for one scene. He wasn't wearing the hair piece at the end. I hardly think they will keep it in any future films. He was just a bald eagle experimenting with Propecia and hair pieces. Geez. LOL! Poor guy. ;)
  15. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Re: Janice's hair

    *Note to the world: Please ban the following words
    in the new year:

    Don't Go There

    Btw, I thought Sam's hair mop toupee was a great sight gag...just glad its not a permanent fixture;)
  16. sarah_yzma

    sarah_yzma Well-Known Member

    Re: Re: Janice's hair

    "quotes" do u mean the word or the marks???? :confused:
  17. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Re: Re: Re: Janice's hair

    Oh, I mean for instance in real life, when your trying to be sarcastic, bending your fingers to emphasize something.


    Oh...sure...you "forgot" to clean the kitchen...riiiiiight. ;)
  18. sarah_yzma

    sarah_yzma Well-Known Member

    oh i "get it"


    i thought you only used one ' though
  19. Gonzo

    Gonzo Well-Known Member

    Sam was also "bald" in the MasterCard commercials, so the rug was indeed a temporary sight gag....

  20. Thijs

    Thijs Well-Known Member

    No more LOL

    Hey guys! Somebody agrees with me! Emmy, Byron!

    about the after-Jim period:

    everybody is talking about the movies. But I find the tv-shows more important then movies. So yes, it was better in the old days.

    about the movies: I don`t like the Caper, but the other two are great! But sorry, my favourite movie is The Carol. I watched it this christmas, like every christmas, and I have to say no other muppet-movie makes me laugh that much, and is the only movie of all the movies I have seen in my life (including Bambi!) that makes me cry (Bless us all). And those songs are great too. Treasure Island is a great movie too, but I hate the songs! Especially when the kid sings! I hate singing children!!! I should see Space again to have an opinion about it.

    The most terrible thing that happened after Jim`s dead is that Kermit lost his original voice. Everybody is always praising Steve Withmire for his Kermit, but it`s terrible! OK, it sounds good, but where is the cynical kermit, who made me laugh so much. Kermit has become some kind of hero, an American Dream.

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