Film

Muppet Marathon Madness!

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Part of the secret to Henson and company’s enduring magic is their dedication to the idea that Muppet films, like the original TV series, must be a complete song and dance experience. The Muppet filmography is practically built upon the fabric of its original soundtrack, starting with the iconic “Rainbow Connection” that ushered their first foray into film in The Muppet Movie (1979). Be it Kermit and Fozzy or Tim Curry and the ensemble of the post-Henson classic Muppet Treasure Island (1996), our fuzzy, furry, and cloth-constructed friends have always been there to sing away our fears.

Like many others, I grew up on Henson’s classics and was a daily subscriber to Sesame Street. I know the story of Henson and Oz’s friendship, the tragedy of its loss, and the unique magic that existed amongst the Muppets’ original creators. And I believe that now, more than ever, is the time to honor that magic once more with screenings like today’s quadruple feature at the Brattle, as our childhood friends stand as more than memories; they are cultural icons.

Think about it: Why else would Disney continue to have such a vested interest in these characters? They still play a large part of our culture given their recent success with The Muppets (2011) (and the continued efforts of expanding their media reach), making it apparent that many of us miss their bizarre or hilarious personalities, as well as their penchant for music and variety.

But where the core Muppet films with Kermit and friends are a romp, Henson’s other entries like Labyrinth (1986) and The Dark Crystal (1982) are a waltz of sorts. They’re stronger impressions of The Henson Company’s mastery in the art of creating worlds and species that appear fully functional and lifelike. It’s almost as if Henson and company’s early work was building toward something more ambitious and less reliant on cameos or variety. They were ready to take the next step into creating fantastical worlds for us to live in as viewers. This sort of comes through with their intentions behind Fraggle Rock (1983-1987), but is no more apparent than the artistry brought to The Dark Crystal.

You’re probably well aware of my suggestion so far…

You should attend this screening. You should attend this screening because you deserve to have your spirit uplifted by familiar friends and by hearing their catchy songs or watching their classic scenes (like every appearance of David Bowie’s bulging crotch in Labyrinth). These are difficult times for many of us, and, if there is one thing we need to be reminded of, it’s our ability to create and to laugh.

I am a firm believer that each of these films has something to offer you, but I am absolutely confident that The Muppet Movie is the best cure for a dried creative soul. For, believe it or not, there is nothing more inspiring than watching a frog climb his way to success, only to cap it off with a song about how life’s like a movie, write your own ending. We are all capable of creating, of loving, and of having fun.

Join the entire Muppet crew on April 16th at the Brattle Theater.

Muppet Marathon Madness is a quadruple feature of Labyrinth, Muppet Treasure Island, The Muppet Movie Singalong, and The Dark Crystal happening on April 16th, 2018.

The Muppet Movie
1979
dir. James Frawley
95 min.

The Dark Crystal
1982
dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz
93 min.

Labyrinth
1986
dir. Jim Henson
101 min.

Muppet Treasure Island
1996
dir. Brian Henson
99 min.

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