The Muppet Movie provides the central theme of 2013–well for myself anway. I revisited it recently this past Christmas eve and the more I think about accomplishing goals and following some sort of path to a better life, the more I think back to this movie (it totally holds up by the way).
Released in 1979–between the third and fourth seasons of The Muppet Show—The Muppet Movie provides the backstory of what brought the gang together on a journey to Hollywood to become rich and famous. Kermit is but a frog, living in the swamp, singing and strumming a banjo, who is approached by an agent, fascinated by his talent, and motivated to pursue a career in show business. Kermit, inspired by this idea, sets off on a cross-country trip to Hollywood, and along this journey to the land of 1,000 fake body parts, he meets new friends like Fozzie Bear, Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, Gonzo, Camilla the Chicken, Swetums, Rowlf the Dog and future beau Miss Piggy. All the while, they’re being hunted down by a Colonel Sanders-like, bumbling villain Doc Hopper and assistant Max in an attempt to convince Kermit to be the new spokesman a French-fried frog legs restaurant (which is seriously not cool dude).
The movie has everything you could want from a film meant to appeal to children and adults: Jokes galore, meta-references, winks to the audience, emotional depth and western style showdown, Steve Martin and Richard Pryor (because why the fuck not), fun and engaging music, Mel Brooks Mel Brooksing it and the appearances of muppets from other Jim Henson vehicles. Speaking of which, the ending to The Muppet Movie is great for the nods it gives to Sesame Street, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas and The Land of Gorch (and, you know, Rainbow Connection). It feels like Henson’s whole life has built up to this moment. This movie–and the success of The Muppet Show–came after years of toiling away in mostly obscurity, save for a cult following of devotees. From an early career making 5-minute puppet skits for local televison, by the name of Sam and Friends, to his work in commercials, tevelision guest appearances and children’s specials, to finally garnering real success with his work on Sesame Street–and also Saturday Night Live. By the time of The Muppet Show, it was clear that all that grudge work and time paid off and he created a force bigger than himself. This is what makes that ending in The Muppet Movie so poignant; It’s a timeline of what got Jim Henson to this place in our hearts.
The Muppet Movie, if nothing else, is a film about following a dream against all odds. Poetic? Sure. Unrealistic? Maybe. Embraceable? Most definitely. Look, nobody’s gonna believe that you can take a cross-country trip to Hollywood, barge into talent agent Orson Welles office and get a “rich and famous” contract on the spot–that’d be foolish, but foolish is what you gotta be sometimes to follow any dream you might have. I wouldn’t have this blog if I wasn’t foolish enough to believe it might go somewhere for me. Yes, the ever-pervading idea that I’m wasting my time and am destined to sit behind a cubicle, pretending to work, will always be there but fuck if I won’t try anyways. I’ve spent the past two years going through the 5 stages when it comes to a sustainable career in writing, I’m fully at acceptance of whatever happens now. Whether I make it on my own cross-country trip is left to be seen but for now… well, there’s the rainbow connection: the lovers, the dreamers and me.
But if you do happen to have a “make your dreams come true” contract, hit me on the email bro.