When I was a kid, I thought the expression “it’s raining buckets” was actually pronounced “it’s raining Muppets.” I thought “Muppet” was a generic term for craziness (Kermit and his pals did act pretty crazy on their show). It wasn’t until my paternal grandfather overheard me one soggy afternoon at the age of four and corrected me that I realized the error of my ways. Undaunted, I continued to say “it’s raining Muppets” until I was forced to conform in elementary school.
I did not see the latest Muppet special that aired this week, “A Muppet Christmas: Letters To Santa,” but I heard it was a pile of ass. Not surprising. The previous Muppet Xmas outing wasn’t all that hot, either—2002’s “It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.” You know you’re in trouble when the best you can offer is an over-the-shoulder Yoda cameo.
The Muppets have been in something of a free-fall for the past decade, failing to give us anything all that inspired or magical beyond 1999’s semi-ok Muppets From Space. I, of course, blame Disney, who acquired our favorite felt outfit in 2004. The Mouse isn’t exactly known for quality outside the parameters of its theme parks or star-studded CG vehicles. Why should they direct any of their energy or dollars into a franchise that’s at best a hazy seventies Gen X memory? They shouldn’t, I guess, since the current gen is way more into human Pinocchio-types that sing and play guitars.
The sad fact is the Muppets’ best years are behind them. They had a great run, but maybe it’s time to stop trying to squeeze out whatever tasty green frog juice is left in Kermit’s dry little frog body. It’s like any great band or movie franchise—you want to see them get out of the game with some dignity. Shit, I don’t want to hear anyone but Jim Henson voice Rowlf. That shit, as “Family Guy” deftly observed, is just wrong.
I would be just fine if Disney just cut their Muppet losses now and relied on pimping the classics (DVDs of “The Muppet Show” and the theatrical Muppet movies, whatever they can do with “Muppet Babies,” that fantastic exhibit they have at their movie studio park known as “Muppetvision 3-D,” etc). I don’t want to wake up this time next year to see Fozzie and Gonzo farting around some half-assed Twilight parody or playing a rival band in the next Jonas Brothers movie.
Ollie Johnston, the last surviving member of Walt Disney’s famous “Nine Old Men” animation crew, died yesterday at the impossible age of 95. He worked on Snow White, Peter Pan, Cinderella, all that yazz. Nobody had Ollie in the death pool; thus, the scores remain unchanged (Nathan C, 16; everyone else, zip).
I have such mixed feelings about Disney. On the one hand, it’s a hollow corporate empire built upon borrowed ideas that was founded by a noted anti-Semite. On the other hand, kids need crap to get excited about, too. Nothing’s perfect, I suppose. Whaddya gonna do? If it’ll keep those little yard monsters off my lawn for half an hour, more power to it.
Just do me one solid, Disney: promise you won’t keep suppressing the Muppets. I need some Fozzie up in this biznatch stat. Wocka wocka an’ stuff.