August 6, 2012

The Muppets

I saw the new Muppet movie this week.  (Okay, not new.  It came out in 2011.)  I was both looking forward to it and apprehensive.  The Muppets are my childhood.  So was Star Wars, and I saw what George Lucas did to it with the prequels.  I knew that Jason Segel was doing the movie, and he is around my age and has the same reverence for the Muppets as I do.  All I can say is, it was everything I had hoped it would be.  The greatest compliment I can give the movie is that it was as if Jim Henson himself had made it.  The Muppets have to get back together and save their theater from being demolished by an evil tycoon.  It doesn't matter what the plot is, really.  The Muppets sing and make you laugh and give you hope that things will turn out okay in the end.  There were no dry eyes on the couch when Kermit and the other Muppets were on stage singing "Rainbow Connection" near the end.  It is the quintessential Muppet song.  Kermit first sings it in one of my favorite movies, The Muppet Movie.  

I could fill this blog with videos of the Muppets.  However, I will show some restraint.  But how to choose?  There is Robin singing "Halfway Down the Stairs," Rowlf playing the piano and singing "Cottleston Pie," scenes from Veterinarian's Hospital and Pigs in Space, Gonzo gazing at the stars singing "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday," fantastic guest stars on The Muppet Show like Beverly Sills and John Cleese, Fozzie's jokes, Kermit getting exasperated, and those lovable grumps in the balcony, Statler and Waldorf.  One song I especially like from The Muppet Show is "Turn the World Around," from the Harry Belafonte episode.  

The song is about tolerance and getting along with others and loving each other, even if they are different from you.  This encapsulates what I feel was Jim Henson's gift to the world.  He didn't just give us wonderful characters who made us laugh.  He gave us this beautiful message of love and hope and fellowship.  The Muppets couldn't be more different from one another.  But they are a family, and they love each other and are there for one another.  I am a pessimist.  I generally don't think things will turn out okay.  I don't believe that good will triumph over evil, but I watch the Muppets and then I believe.  The Muppets make me feel better.  That's the essence of Jim Henson coming through.  It can be seen in the little things that make the Muppets come alive.  At the end of "Turn the World Around," some of the Muppets come out to sing with Harry Belafonte.  Kermit and Fozzie turn away from the camera to face him, and Fozzie puts his arm around Kermit's shoulders.  They aren't just puppets- they're friends.  

Jim Henson tragically died when he was only 53 years old.  Too young.  The world is a lesser place for it.  It's hard for me to believe it was over twenty years ago now.  Two memorials were held, one in New York and one in London.  The puppeteers (or muppeteers) and many of the Muppets were present to pay tribute.  Big Bird sang "Bein' Green."  At the end when he looks to the sky and says, "Thank you, Kermit," he is saying it for all of us.  

I'm grateful to have grown up in a world with Jim Henson's creations.  I learned my letters and numbers with Sesame Street.  I sang along to The Muppet Show.  I watched Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth and more.  It was gratifying to see the new Muppet movie carry on his legacy.  


  1. You are spot on with this! Henson gave a wonderful gift to the world. And Kermit singing Rainbow Connection was, and is, always one of my favorites.

    1. Thanks! It's one of my favorites, too.


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