Jaynes Your Way

Here are my thoughts about films, life, and what not. If you don't like them I'll give your money back.

#2 Muppets from Space

13 July, 2008

News flash: Gonzo is, weird is too strong of a word for such a lovable guy, unique. The long beaked character from the mind of Jim Henson is the focus of “Muppets from Space,” though everyone is present: Kermit, Piggy, the Swedish Chef, Rizzo, and Pepe the Prawn. That is the problem. A slow panning shot of the living room photo-shelf shows that everyone, even Miss Piggy, has a family. Everyone except Gonzo, who has nightmares that Noah won’t let him on the Ark because there is only one of him in the world. Isn’t this the perfect metaphor for conformity? If you don’t fit in you better have brought an umbrella. Gonzo spends the movie trying to find his family, and I'll give you one guess where they are from.

The Muppets might be childish, but it is still side-splittingly clever. “Muppets from Space” makes comedy seem easy, but don’t be mistaken. Only a rat with a Brooklyn accent can get laughs from smart-ass comments like, “Terrible” to the question “No nostrils. How do you [Gonzo] smell?” from a chubby Jeffrey Tambor playing the head of a secret government agency.

This spoof style movie shies from being overtly in your face like the Naked Gun series and Date Movie. (Keep an eye out for the “Independence Day” reference, and countless other films.) The balance of insanity and reality is blurred enough to make a bear working for the government plausible.

Surprisingly, realism is derived from the lack of computer graphics. The Henson studio was still showing its mastery of miniatures, which feel more real because they are actually tangible. Think of “Empire Strikes Back” compared to “The Phantom Menace.” I’m still amazed at how real the former looks. We need to bring back miniatures to the cinemas.

Basically, you can never go wrong with a Muppet movie. It’s not a French new wave film, but it is actually quite deep on several levels. Or you could simply stay on the ground level and enjoy the laughs. I still have fond memories of going to see “A Muppets Christmas Carol” at a theater when I was 8. The Muppet movies are honest enough, and provide enough characters, literally, to identify with through humor or even sympathy. I became so involved in "Muppets from Space" that when the credits rolled I was mad because I realized there are several things missing in my life:

• Not only do I not have a sound track in my live, but even if I did it would never have the great 70’s music this movie did.

• I’ve never had a suit-wearing bear as a co-worker

• I need to hire a live-in, Swedish Chef.


Blogger Russell Patterson said...

Muppets hold a special place in my heart: The Muppet Show was a source of enjoyment as a kid, the Muppet Movie was enjoyable, though probably doesn't hold up that well now, and to be clear the Muppet Christmas Carol is probably my favorite adaptation of Dickens' work for reasons both too personal to speak of and for the fact that Michael Caine plays it absolutely straight with the likes of Fozzy Bear and Kermit. That having been said, I don't know that I have seen Muppets in Space, but I am adding it to the Netflix queue after this review.

14 July, 2008 02:09  

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