I can't remember the last time I was inspired to write a blog post about a movie, but the Muppets did it! We saw it this weekend with our 7yo & 4 yo, and it earned a unanimous Boy Howdy from our family.
Dean and I later were trying to identify what we love so much about the Muppets, besides just being funny and fun. They take what is popular and make it silly, but never in a mean way. They can say, "Hey, let's look at ourselves and the things we love. Isn't it all ridiculous and magnificent at the same time?" And that allows us, the viewers, to laugh at ourselves, which is a lovely gift. As I write this, it occurs to me that's exactly what I was trying to do with Austenland, and I wonder how much of that instinct came from The Muppets.
I know I'm not alone in still mourning the loss of Jim Henson 20 years later. The latest Muppets movie also saw the departure of Jim Henson's collaborator and supreme puppeteer Frank Oz (Miss Piggy, Fozzie, not to mention Yoda, etc) It occurs to me that the genius of Jim Henson and Frank Oz is that their creatures are so robust, so enduring, that they can survive without them. Frank Oz's Miss Piggy and Fozzie are so memorable, others can write their lines and give them voices, and their appeal and life aren't diminished. They truly are creators, and their creations live on.
And the music! Has Glee done an episode dedicated to the music of the Muppets yet? If not, they should. Beautiful, haunting, funny, insightful, genius music. I'm surprised top artists haven't done covers of Gonzo's song from The Muppet Movie: "I'm Going to Go Back There Some Day." Or Ernie's "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon." And of course "Rainbow Connection," one of the best songs ever written, up there with Lennon's "Imagine." The entire original Muppet Movie soundtrack, done by the supremely talented Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher, is a masterwork, that if not dismissed as kiddie music, would be recognized and awarded as it deserves. I think the new Muppets soundtrack is up there on par with the original, largely thanks to Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords and Austenland!). If he doesn't get an Oscar nomination for best song for "Life's a Happy Song," there will be an UPROAR here on squeetus. Go itunes it!
PS. No update yet on the Austenland movie. I won't forget to tell you as soon as I know anything.