A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Muppet Classic Theater

May 26, 2011

Muppet Classic Theater

Boy does this bring back memories. Not memories of the Muppets, thought it’s always fun to see Muppets in action, but of the olden days of VHS. We put this into our VCR this evening and a horrifying crinkling sound came from within. The tape did not play, and the machine was rather stubborn about returning it to us. When the cassette came out at last it was not in very good condition. Oh, I’ve seen worse, but the tape was dangling out of the gate and all twisted up inside the cassette. We had to get out some screwdrivers and Amanda used her AV skillz to open the case up and un-twist the tape. Then, because the tape had not been rewound the last time we watched it, we stuck it in our dedicated VHS rewinder. When I first started working at Blockbuster we still had VHS tapes for rent and every morning we’d have an entire bank of these little machines running at once rewinding all the movies our customers had not bothered to rewind before returning them. Fond memories of a bygone day when a person could accidentally erase part of their movie collection by running a magnet over it or melt it by leaving it in a hot car. Nowadays you only really need to worry about scratching your DVDs – or having the hard drive your films are stored on become corrupted.

Anyhow, that’s all just the medium. I should spend some time reviewing this as a movie. We discovered this in a small cache of tapes that we had never added to our movie a day project and I had to debate for a bit about adding this to the list because it is so very short. This was a direct to video release from the early nineties, and it feels kind of light weight and inconsequential, but that’s part of the charm. This was one of the first Muppet productions after Jim Henson’s passing, and it’s still just fun to see the Muppet performers doing something light hearted and very much in the Muppet mode.

Like some of the more concept oriented Muppet Show episodes or the very earliest Muppet videos in our collection this is a distinctly Muppet take on some classic fairy tales. There are six short stories here: The Three Little Pigs, King Midas, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Rumpelstiltskin, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Elves and the Shoemaker. They’re all familiar stories, which makes them perfect territory for the kind of Muppet weirdness that I love best. The Three Little Pigs becomes a story about not underestimating somebody because she happens to be a girl (which you’d think people would already know about Miss Piggy.) Kermit is King Midas who only wants peace on earth, but his wife (Piggy again) wants gold, so it becomes a story about what is really important. The Boy Who Cried Wolf and Rumpelstiltskin are Gonzo stories full of silliness. Fozzie stars as the Emperor with the non existent new clothes. For the grand finale there’s the Shoemaker and the Elves, who are all Elvis, which makes for some fun impersonations and faux Elvis songs.

I have only seen this a couple times in the way distant past. I bought this when it first came out on VHS in 1992, and I have probably only watched it all the way through once or twice since then. So what startled me most as I watched this again tonight was how these catchy songs were so instantly familiar to me. As I put the tape in I was singing the “Gotta Get That Name” song already, and every single song in the movie has that kind of staying power. Each short has its own little song, and they are all fantastic. Gotta Get That Name in particular has an unshakable hook and Brian Henson completely steals the choreography as the spastic and unnamed ferret. I’d watch this entire tape any day just for that bit.

I’m so glad we own this and that we decided to watch it for our project. So what if it almost feels like skits from the old Muppet Show? That is exactly what I need sometimes. When Fozzie is parading around in his boxer shorts during the Emperor’s New Clothes bit I couldn’t help having an exchange that he and Kermit had early on in the Muppet Show running through my head “My god! The comedian is a bear!” “No he’s-a-not! He’s-a-wearing a neck tie!” Rimshot. Classic Muppets. And it’s always a delight.

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May 26, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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