My regular computer is in the E.R. with a dying Hard Drive, so I will have to take a short break in the articles I have been writing. The timing was perfect, though, because I went to a movie today that I wanted to comment on:
Ok, periodically, I am going to try to start doing a little movie review action… not primarily about the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” of a movie, but to comments on its value for the family…
First… I want to comment on the recent rash of remakes and comebacks of former movies and movie concepts.
I know that it often seems like Independent movies and Pixar (and some DreamWorks) are the only people even attempting to come up with new-ish stories… and I think that is a valid critique of the movie industry…
But I want to tip my hat to something I have seen in the last few years…
And that is tipped hats to the movie that is being remade, brought back, or sequel-ed after years of silence….
If you are singing a Billy Joel song, you sing it the same way he did/does. You refer back to the original… that is just right, in my opinion.
It used to be that when someone remade a movie, they were obsessed with making it “uniquely theirs”… different, fresh, taking it in a totally different direction. The “new” one seems to have been made by people who neither knew nor liked the originals… or remake their own originals…
(sometimes even it was their creation originally! I mean, really, did Lucas ever even watch Episodes 4,5,6?… Greedo shoots first? In what universe?)
I have the same opinion about movies that tell the story told in a book, but I could really get off topic there. Really – Faramir takes the ring to Osgiliath?
However, the new model is to “tip the hat” to the original…
The first and third Mission Impossible movies
Karate Kid withJackieChan
And there are many more movies that tip the hat in respect.
Some of these movies aren’t really all that good, and I certainly would not recommend many of them, but I appreciate that they seemed to have been made by FANS of the originals.
Never let someone make coffee in your church unless they love coffee.
Second… to let you know, that I am a fan from childhood of the Muppets. I always enjoyed watching the television show as a child. I am sure that Henson had plenty of beliefs and political views that I would not agree with (fully an assumption, I have not checked)…
But the morals and teachings were always really encouraging to me – even as a kid! As someone who had a best friend, I totally related to the Fozzie Bear/Kermit friendship.
As a young man who, until High School, never felt like I could relate well to the girls I really liked the most, I was able to relate to Kermit’s uncertainty about Piggy – is she the one for him or not?
Seeing individually odd and still radically different people struggle through but make it work probably played a role in my belief that friendship is the ultimate human relationship…
(to pre-empt the question: the marriage relationship should even be a relationship in which the powerful intimacy of a life-long devotion of friendship is expressed sexually too… within its role as a living parable of God’s love for His people.)
The Old Men, Beaker, and Animal should be turned into archetypes for something.
Third… I like any movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think that is why I continue to keep “The Princess Bride” on my top movies list…
There is little more maturely funny than a genre that can poke fun at itself a little bit… especially when it is as well known and iconic as The Muppets are.
Fourth… I also like it when a work of art can have a little fun at its own expense, but even moreso when it is willing to make commentary on its genre… in this case – visual media.
Fifth… Can I add that I think it must require 100x times more intelligence, cleverness and ingenuity to be funny and stay clean. I think that is why a thousand crass comedians are forgotten every day… but why Bill Cosby (and hopefully) Brian Regan, among many others, will be remembered.
* Ok, so, my childhood connections to the Muppets… I have strong feelings when I hear the Muppet Show intro. The tradition of it actually (ok, you will laugh at me) reminds me of how I feel when I hear the traditional wedding vows.
* This movie has constant references to the originals… I am confident that the makers not only like, but love The Muppets.
* Many of the comedy riffs are connected to the original movies and television shows. “Traveling by map” is apparently much faster than just driving or flying, for example. Constant, un-warned appearances of celebrities is another example… I could go on, but I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone.
* The commentary on society in general and visual media in specific is pretty potent… if not very subtle. The show that the Muppets replace is called “Punch the Teacher.” Again, not subtle.
The play against big business is a common theme for the Muppets (remember the Chicken mogul?) and maybe even that is a little tongue-in-cheek poke at their own preachiness at times (the badguy’s name is Tex Richman – an oil tycoon)… did I mention not subtle?
Maybe I am reading my own perspective onto it, but this almost seemed like a poke atHollywood’s tendencies to create a clear 2-dimensional arch-villain out of the business world. Or maybe they really thinkTexasoil men are the real evil left in the world.
Finally, the way that all of us “normal” people seem to treat celebrities is handled in some pretty funny ways.
For those who were at our “Gospel According to Pixar” event: was there a parable?
(if you missed it, you can find it here: http://b3ministries.blogspot.com/2011/11/thanksgiving-for-future-with-forgiven.html)
Sure – the question of identity is dealt with in another non-subtle song… Are we men or Muppets? Where do we belong? For former students of my identity curriculum – who am I one of?
Are we uniquely designed to belong somewhere?
How about the question of making sure we don’t forget those who matter most to us? I think there are a lot of husbands, wives, fathers (and mothers) who need to be reminded of that message.
Interesting message that I have certainly found to be true as a therapist: it is easier to believe in other than in yourself.
More conversation about the Gospel According to Jim Henson at http://www.mbird.com/2011/11/bears-wear-hats-the-gracious-absurdism-of-jim-henson-and-the-muppets/.
* Ok, and this movie is clean. Even the one small dance scene with Vegas-style dancers is cut so short (and their outfits aren’t cut as short as you expect either) that there is no time for anything very shady. The comedy is clean… the language is clean… in fact, that is one of the very points being made by the movie –
Whatever happened to media that can be enjoyed by children without seeking to work hard to destroy innocence? It went wherever the Muppets went.
Well, I am glad they are back…
Apparently I am not the only one: with an estimated $29.5 million Friday-Sunday and $42 Million if you start measuring on Wednesday, The Muppet’s $10 million goal (see the movie to understand) has been blown away… and it isn’t even 3D… and only cost $45 million to make (http://www.boxofficeguru.com/weekend.htm).
I assume that the sales of the old movies and television shows will explode too. I am shopping for them as I write this.
Now, do you think someone might listen and bring Kermit, Beaker, Animal and the gang back to Prime Time?