‘Muppets Most Wanted’ – We’ve Seen This Movie Before, Right?
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While it’s very noble that Brian Henson is carrying on his father’s legacy, as well the legacy of the Muppets, it can never be the same without Jim Henson, whose heart and soul were irreplaceable. The Muppets are carrying on with ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ this Friday, but here’s some more puppet fun you should check out as well.
‘The Muppet Movie’ (1979)
‘The Muppet Movie’ was released in the summer of 1979, and it successfully carried the delightful spirit of the Muppet’s TV show to the silver screen. Like a lot of movies today, ‘The Muppet Movie’ provides the backstory of how the Muppets came to Hollywood and became superstars. Yet unlike a lot of modern prequels, which stupidly show you, say, the Death Star being built, ‘The Muppet Movie’ was a great companion piece for ‘The Muppet Show’ when it was at its peak, and when Henson’s creative powers were arguably at their peak as well. ‘The Muppet Movie’ not only featured many great guest stars such as Steve Martin, Richard Pryor and Orson Welles, just to name a few, but it also featured ‘The Rainbow Connection,’ written by Paul Williams, which is still a beloved song to this day. ‘The Muppet Movie’ holds up well, and it will probably always be the Muppets finest hour on the big screen.
‘The Dark Crystal’ (1982)
Before ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the fantasy genre had a brief vogue in the early ’80s with films like ‘Conan the Barbarian’ and ‘Excalibur.’ After ‘The Great Muppet Caper,’ Jim Henson followed up with ‘The Dark Crystal,’ which dealt with fairies and elves, known as Gelflings, as well as monstrous, buzzard-like creatures called Skeksis, the main villains of the story. Like the golden ring in Tolkien’s classic, the crystal can be used for great good or evil, depending on whoever controls it. While ‘Crystal’ has a lot of trademark Henson touches, it’s also a lot more ambitious and darker than his usual fare. Henson was greatly disappointed that ‘The Dark Crystal’ — and his other foray into fantasy, ‘Labyrinth’ — didn’t take off at the box office, and ‘Crystal’ is definitely worth a second look.
‘Meet the Feebles’ (1989)
Before the epic ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy was finally done right on the big screen, many had never heard of Peter Jackson, but he had already made the outrageous gore films ‘Bad Taste’ and ‘Dead Alive,’ ‘Heavenly Creatures’ and ‘Meet the Feebles,’ a brutal spoof of the Muppets, which, like ‘South Park,’ has something to offend everybody. ‘Feebles’ became an underground phenomenon through bootlegs, and many speculated it would never be seen in the U.S. because of potential litigation from the Henson estate. (‘Feebles’ did, in fact, get a brief release in the States several years after it was made.) Among the tasteless hilarity are scenes where a Feeble plays Russian roulette as a prisoner of war, a horny rabbit has an orgy and contracts a horrible sexually transmitted disease (guess which one) and a puppet begs a rodent dealer for smack. Plus, there’s a shooting spree. Jackson mentioned ‘Feebles’ when he won the Academy Award for Best Director of ‘Rings,’ and he’s certainly come a long way since then, but ‘Feebles’ proves just how politically incorrect puppets can get.