Showing posts with label muppets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label muppets. Show all posts

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Doc Watch: Jim Henson - Idea Man (2024)

Watched:  06/05/2024
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Ron Howard
Selection:  Jamie

I watched The Muppet Show as a kid, knowing who maybe a 1/5th of the guests were.  I saw The Muppet Movie, Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take ManhattanDark Crystal and Labyrinth in the theater.  I even remember as a kid wondering how Jim Henson and Frank Oz found the time - "how do they find time to do these things?"   Later, I watched The Storyteller and Jim Henson Hour - which were both given terrible timeslots (Fridays!), if memory serves.

And then one morning I woke up and someone in my house told me Jim Henson was dead.  It's one of my first moments of being shocked by a celebrity death.  It's not wrong to think of Henson in the same mold as Walt Disney, and I understand how the world reeled from his abrupt departure.  

The Henson family has never been terribly secretive, and I've read articles over the years, seen exhibits at the Smithsonian, etc...  so I'd pieced together a rough notion of Henson's life, but it really started with a puppet on one hand.  

It turns out Ron Howard, who directed this film, has a good sense for documentary.  If the movie is a bit of pro-Henson propaganda, there's literally nothing wrong with that.  If Jim Henson had a human side which was imperfect, fine.  The movie does try to give us an idea of some of his blindspots and foibles, courtesy his family and co-workers.  But this film is about how he got to where he was, what his work was like - and how it was done.  And, of course, the impact, which is hard to measure.

With so much time since Henson's death, which was in May of 1990, it's amazing to see so many of his collaborators able to come speak about him, from Muppet costumers to Jennifer Connolly.  And to be taken on the journey from Missouri to DC to London, via clips and video of various efforts.  

I'm not sure there's a ton here for the person who is deeply into The Muppets and appreciates them on a much deeper level than I do, but it's a terrific document.  And for folks who only have heard the name Henson, and did not know him as a friendly face on talk shows or media presence that was generally well-liked across the board - this is a great way to know the man.  And, you'll get a great experience seeing Henson's material all in one place, from his first work on DC to his funeral, which he choreographed.

It's a wonder seeing the Henson kids, now all older than their dad when he passed.  And to hear them speak about him lovingly, but honestly - and I think it's in this realm that I felt Howard's hand.  He knows how to craft the image on a genuine hero.

The documentary is currently available on Disney+.


Friday, December 16, 2022

Muppet Watch: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Watched:  12/15/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Brian Henson

First things first - to watch the full length version of the movie including the previously cut song, here's what you do:

When you find the movie on Disney+, go to the movie, and then look at the "Extras".  Select "Full Length".  

We didn't do this, we just clicked "watch movie".  When I was expecting the song to show up, it didn't. 

So, the game was afoot.  I went about figuring it out after the credits.  

The default version on Disney+ does not have the song "Love is Gone" - but it's right there!  If you click "Extras" associated with the film, and it provides the option for "full length".  Or just watch the song as a stand-alone video.  It's all there, you just have to click 2-3 more times to get to it.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Doc Watch: Street Gang - How We Got to Sesame Street (2020)

Watched:  12/29/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Marilyn Agrelo

Of the near universal experiences of my generation (that being the generation known as "X") was the certainty that you were plopped down in front of a television as soon as you could sit upright and you were a fan of Sesame Street.  It was partially a product of the fact we usually had three networks and a PBS affiliate on our TV's and very little else, but also because it was recognized by our parents as both entertainment and a source of education.

As a kid, I remember the combination of Muppets, kind adults and kids, animation and music made it a variety show that I personally wanted to watch.  I am sure I had favorite bits and characters, but that's all been lost to time as all I can remember is a general warm spot for the show, the actors and the Muppets.  And, now, the nostalgia when seeing footage from that era hits me like a wave.  It's tapping into brain cells that haven't been accessed much in years, and related feelings both directly and indirectly tied to the show.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Muppety Watch: The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

Watched:  12/27/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Frank Oz

For old-skool Austinites, I saw this movie in the theater in 1984 at Northcross Mall.  That summer my dad was living in Austin and the family in Spring, TX as we worked to move everyone to Austin for my father's new job.  My thinking is that on one of our many trips to Austin to see The Admiral and check out the town and where we'd live, my folks took the evening and took me (9) and my brother (11) to see this movie.

Mostly I remember thinking the bits with Kermit in disguise as Hollywood and Broadway types were hysterical.  I recognized a good number of the cameos at that point (Dabney Coleman, Brooke Shields, Linda Lavin, etc...) and it was good to see my old muppety pals again on screen.

That year I also picked up the official Marvel Comics adaptation, but it was released as a few issues, and I didn't get one of them.  Still, they used exact dialog from scenes, went very cartoony, and so I know some very specific dialog from this movie from re-reading those comics over and over (the Penguins yelling "well, excuuuuuse me!", for example).  

Monday, December 14, 2020

PODCAST: "A Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992) - a Xmas Genre Xrossover w/ Stuart & Ryan

Watched:  11/29/2020
Format: Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director: Brian Henson

Stuart and Ryan talk the Dickens out of a movie featuring a bunch of felt animals and a CBE for the arts of England. It's got ghosts, a weirdo pretending to be a great author, great sets and a missing song. Maybe not a huge hit when it showed up, it's now a staple of holiday viewing and both very much a Muppet movie and very much a Christmas movie - so it fits the theme for this year.
Music - Muppet Christmas Carol OST
Scrooge - Paul Williams
When Love is Gone - Paul Williams

Playlist - Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Election Week Watch: The Muppet Movie (1979)

Watched: 11/04/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1970's
Director:  James Frawley

We watched most of this movie on election night in order to avoid the news.  Finished it up last night in order to avoid the news.

Everytime I watch this, I am reminded that Rowlf is the funniest Muppet.   And Paul Williams needs to be re-re-discovered every three years.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Muppet Watch: Great Muppet Caper (1981)


Watched:  09/12/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Jim Henson

The Muppet Movie is a beautifully constructed film on many levels, is gorgeous, has an amazing message, and we should all own at least one copy.  The Great Muppet Caper is just @#$%ing funny.

Leaning on the tropes of movies, movie-making, and doing occasional spoofs (Piggy's Esther Williams tribute), The Great Muppet Caper sings about what it's going to be, and is that - a pretty thin mystery plot as an excuse for Muppet mayhem.  And, along the way, makes it fun for them and for all of us, with terrific sight gags, 4th wall-breaking jokes, improvised moments (there's a scene with Kermit and Piggy in the park that cannot possibly have been in the script), and the patented Muppet formula of running jokes that just get funnier as they go along.

The cast includes the recently departed Diana Rigg (we didn't set out to watch a Diana Rigg film, but she's hilarious in this) and Charles Grodin in a star turn as Nicky, Rigg's ne'er-do-well brother.  But there's also UK-friendly cameos as well as those for an American audience.   John Cleese and Joan Sanderson's bit feels imported from another movie entirely, and I remember thinking it was very funny when I was 6, but now I find it hysterical.  

Anyway, this is an ideal one to watch with the kids.  Listen to everything the Muppets are saying, especially in throw-away lines.  It's like two separate movies for kids and adults, but I think everyone will still like it.