Thursday, May 17, 2012

It Takes Guts to Make a Movie Like The Muppets


When was the last time you saw a film and thought: "it takes guts to make a movie like that."

The most recent example I can think of is Shame. I still haven't seen the film, but there seems to be a never-ending chorus of people singing the praises of how gutsy this film is. How it chose to explore sex addiction. How Michael Fassbender had to put everything on the line. It's true, it would take guts to make a movie like that, especially with how it wore it's NC-17 badge out and proud.

We live in a cinematic world where we praise how brave movies can be if they show already extreme things in a more extreme way. We all seem to like the cold hard truth. If things don't appear to be realistic, we instantly start bashing it. If things are too happy, we think they aren't that realistic. Look at this way: the latest teen hyped movie is all about young people killing each other. When we see people getting killed on screen it isn't a big deal. Curse words can make it into a kids movie without a second thought. Hell, kids movies have to be laced with adult humour, violence, even killing of people just to be deemed 'entertaining'.

Apparently, that's what we call 'being gutsy'.

At the beginning of the week, I rewatched The Muppets. Here's a movie where everything is so out and proud. And by that, I don't mean that the puppets all kill each other and one comes out as the felt creation standing.


It is a movie that is unabashedly happy. Right from the start until the end. It is also a movie that isn't perfect, but because of that imperfection it achieves something close to greatness. This movie exists in a world where people sing songs before when they get up in the morning (Life's a fillet of fish! ...yes it is!); the villain is simply called Tex Richman and people travel by map. There is sadness in this movie, but it is all eventually resolved. Some may call that clichéd, but who cares? Everyone turns out happy in the end, so what more could you ask for?

This movie is also extremely self-aware - something that we generally don't see in many movies - which makes it all the more fun. Line's like "Wow, that was an expensive looking explosion! I can't believe we had that in the budget!" or "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were reciting some sort of important plot point." or "Kermit, may I suggest we save time by getting the rest of the Muppets by montage" made me extremely happy. Some people seem to take films so incredibly seriously that no-one ever thinks to make things simple. The Muppets is a simple movie. It isn't artistic in any way, nor does it really push the medium of films itself. But it doesn't forget the fact that movies were made as a form of entertainment, too. And sometimes, entertainment doesn't come in the form of people seeing real life happening on screen. I think the best kind of entertainment is watching people (or puppets) being happy, singing songs about how life is full of glee, with someone to saw and someone to see, and having a great deal of optimism in a largely pessimistic world.

It's also a movie where nothing's out of the ordinary. For example, Amy Adams walks into a diner with all of these bags, but once she gets a table all of the bags are gone and she starts singing a song about having a party by herself. To think I'm the sort of person who picks out the failings in continuity from The Shawshank Redemption, I didn't care. Chris Cooper breaks out with a rap song, complete with the words going across the bottom of the screen. Some people may think that's stupid but I think it is one of the most awesome things to ever appear on screen. 'Man or Muppet' (written by a Kiwi. Just saying. And I know his father. Also just saying) is sung in the pouring rain like all of the other clichés go. But it is funny. It is an out and proud movie. Just as out and proud as I presume Shame was. People tend to forget that because it is at the opposite end of the spectrum - the happier end that no-one ever looks at.

I think The Muppets is best summed up with the words of 'Rainbow Connection':
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
The Muppets is a rainbow connection. There are still lovers and dreamers out there who wish for movies like this. The Muppets delivers that on every level.

18 comments:

  1. One of my favorite movies from last year just because it was so damn funny, without ever having to rely on mean, rude, and crude jokes. Good review here Stevee.

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    1. It doesn't rely on mean, rude or crude jokes, which is exactly what I like about it!

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  2. I need to watch the muppets immediately! I really love happy films. It's true, many of them don't get the deserved appreciation from cinegoers.
    A very honest and heart-warming write up :).

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    1. Thanks! I love happy films too, they're the best. And definitely do see The Muppets. It is wonderful!

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  3. Well in a way I think every film is gutsy. Some maybe more than others, but they all are. Every Tarantino and Fincher flick... Tree of Life could have been an utter failure. Similarly The Muppets is a great example. I rewatched it couple of days back- can't stop listening to Man or Muppet now :)

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    1. Yes, every film is gutsy, but barely anyone looks at films like The Muppets in that way. The Tree of Life was EXTREMELY gutsy!

      And Man or Muppet is my jam. When I'm at home alone I always pump up The Muppets soundtrack and sing along to it. I'm so cool.

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  4. I love that "The Muppets" took all the regular cliches you see in other movies and saterize(know I'm not spelling that word right) Plus I can't really fault a movie for wanting to make it's audience generally happy.

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    1. Exactly. Making the audience generally happy is harder than it seems!

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  5. I still remember mine and the audience's reaction after leaving the theatre...everyone was so happy and had a smile on their face. I honestly can't think of another movie that made me so happy! Great post Stevee, I agree with everything you said!

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    1. Same here! I love films that do that. Thanks!

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  6. That's a great post, seriously. Not in the way we sum up our comments sometimes. I mean it. You raised good questions and wow, I don't have words. I simply agree.

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  7. I think there is room for movies on both sides of the light/dark spectrum

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  8. Good movie with a positive and some would say old-fashioned message to convey. The was a breath of fresh air. Kinda odd that it didn't make more money at the box office.

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    1. It is odd that it didn't make more money. It definitely deserved to!

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  9. I just saw this recently too because Castor, amongst others, egged me on to see it already :) Well, good thing I enjoyed it. It is so unabashedly happy and amusing. LOVE all the songs, and the Rainbow Connection is perhaps my favorite!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it after all that time! I love Rainbow Connection. It makes me so happy.

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You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

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