The Muppet Movie

The Muppet Movie ★★★★★

R.I.P., James Frawley. You may not be a director I bring up in conversation very often, but you changed my life with a movie more substantially than anyone else. What an honor to see your film in a theater, on the big screen, for the first time since 1979, on the very day that we learn of your passing.

Thank you.

I saw this at a sing-a-long affair at the Egyptian, as the opening gala event for the Children's Film Festival (hosted by SIFF and the Northwest Film Forum).

Wow, this was a shot of pure joy. To be able to laugh this loud, this long, with so many people, over such uproarious and inspired imagination. I don't know that I've ever seen a sequence inspire an audience to laugh with such sustained intensity as this crowd did during Miss Piggy's big solo number "Never Before (and Never Again)." That scene has always amused me, but, man... it slays an audience.

From where I was sitting, these were the moments that seemed to inspire the most boisterous ovations (not counting the songs, all of which were big hits):

5. The revelation that the Swedish Chef was the film-within-a-film projectionist.

4. The appearance of Steve Martin.

3. Animal's big moment near the end.

2. The very first appearance of Gonzo the Great.

1. The appearance of Big Bird on his way to New York City "to try to break into public television."

But there was a particularly spirited roar from the crowd when Kermit determines to face the heartless capitalist villain Doc Hopper. Hopper, who is trying to convince a frog to dance for him and support him even as he promotes the slaughter of frogs, powerfully resembles He Who Must Not Be Named. He is selling something poisonous to American ideals while wearing an American flag pin. He gets violent when he doesn't have his way. He acts like an overgrown toddler. When those who are suffering appeal to his conscience, he has no problem demonstrating that he doesn't have one. And, at the climax, when he takes off his hat, he reveals that he has spectacularly bad hair. As he pursues Kermit, determined to get his way at any cost, teaming up with hooligans and heartless killers, Kermit finally turns to his friends — as inclusive and diverse as any 'fellowship' we've ever seen — and says, "I can't spend the rest of my life running from a bully. It's time for a showdown."

The crowd went absolutely nuts.

And what was Kermit's idea of a showdown? To offer a vision of grace, love, and humility, inviting his enemies into friendship, fellowship, and reconciliation.

Yeah, this movie plays really, really well right now.

It's a vision of what America has been and what it can be again. I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something that I'm supposed to be. So I hope it's more than just a blast of nostalgia.

I want to go back there someday.

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