Thirty Days of Feelings: Day Fourteen

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Fourteen: Muppets

Seriously one of the most heart-breaking things I've ever seen.

Seriously one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve ever seen.

When I was young warthog, I used to watch Sesame Street, which to this day remains one of the best things for children. I loved Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch and Grover and especially Bert and Ernie. I attribute much of my love of learning and reading to this glorious program.

When I was a little older, I watched Muppet Babies, which was a children’s cartoon about the Muppets as – you guessed it – babies. I don’t remember much about it content-wise, but I remember enjoying it very much.

As I got older, I got to watch re-runs of The Muppet Show, and then for a brief period the revival. It was so great to see these amazing characters hosting a variety show. There were skits like SNL, celebrity guests, recurring characters, and music. They were witty, and weird, and endearing.

Then, older still, I watched Farscape, a Sci-Fi show about aliens, featuring puppet work from the Jim Henson company. Then I realized that puppest aren’t just childish. They can convey emotion. They can tell stories. They can teach. They can entertain.

Then, finally, I saw The Muppets. I’d seen Muppets movies before, all through junior high and high school. I’d always liked them, but I’d never loved them. Until this one.

First and foremost, The Muppets is a story about being yourself. Walter is a Muppet. He isn’t a human like his brother Gary (Jason Siegel). And as much as he loves Gary, they’re destined for different things. Walter joins the Muppets because they got him through his tough adolescence, filled with bullying and ostracism for being different. The Muppets make him feel loved, and included, and normal. Gary is destined to marry Mary (Amy Adams) a school teacher who just wants to be swept off her feet by the man she’s dated for ten years. Over the course of the movie, Walter comes to terms with who he is, Gary grows up finally, and Mary gets her wish.

Along the way, there are songs written by Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame, choreographed to perfection in intensely bright colors. Seriously, just listen to “Life’s a Happy Song” and try not to smile. There’s a quest to reunite the Muppets who have gone astray. There’s a telethon to save their lot from a corrupt oil executive. There’s tongue-in-cheekiness, there’s self-awareness, there’s slapstick humor, and puns. And surprisingly, there’s a decent amount of sadness.

The characters are aware that they aren’t all that relevant anymore. That people have kind of forgotten them. That the world has become a bit darker, a bit more cynical since their heyday. They question if there’s a place for them today. And the answer, of course, is a resounding yes! Now is the perfect time for wholesomeness. For innocence. For kindness and silliness and heart. The world doesn’t need more sarcasm (unfortunately for me). It doesn’t need more bitterness or edginess. We have enough of that.

So go watch some flipping Muppets. Sing along. Dance. Laugh.

P.S. Bonus points for cameos from Feist, Donald Glover, and RASHIDA JONES.

 

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