Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 148: The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

G, 1 hr. 35 min.  Directed by: Jim Henson.  Release Date: January 1, 1981. DVD Release Date: July 10, 2001.

A few weeks ago, I put the basic touches on my response to Fandango Groover's query to the movie blogging community.  Most of us could name our favorite films of 2011, but what about years that were further back in our life?  Fandango's challenge as issued was to pick a favorite movie for each year of your life, based on the release date of the year.  If the rest of the participants were like me, some Wikipedia research had to happen before we knew WHEN half the movies we'd seen were made, but once that was done, I thought my list came together fairly quickly.

The Great Muppet Caper stole my heart.  Conceptually, it might have been funnier if it stole my wallet and watch, but it has a good start.  It was my pick for my favorite movie made in 1981, the year that I was four.  When I was a kid, up until I was about eleven, I used to spend Sundays with my bio-dad, not to be confused with my long-time stepdad, who was the source of inspiration for me watching The African Queen.  My dad mostly ignored me, dumping me in a room where I watched endless (and mostly bootlegged) movies on a huge screen using a machine that projected the film using three different lamps:  red, blue, and green.  To this day, I have no idea what the machine was.  Most Sundays, I completely checked out mentally, escaping the boredom and misery of this time "with" my dad.  I suspect it's the reason that I use movies to escape when my life gets a bit too real on me to this day.  

This was one of my favorites in his "kid friendly" collection, which included everything Disney had released up until about 1982, Charlie Brown movies, the Muppet films released to date, and everything he could find on Elvira.  Yeah, because a nine-year-old needs to be watching that.  It was rare that I didn't watch this at least twice a month.  

Is this the perfect Muppet movie?  No, it actually feels a bit off keel, like the Muppets aren't quite doing the things they're supposed to.  Does it make sense that Miss Piggy would try and roll her game out on Charles Grodin?  No.  It makes even less sense that they'd do a spoof scene of an Esther Williams movie, although, to be fair, I'm not sure how those swimming movies were ever popular in the first place.  But, I love how this combines the innocence of the Muppets with something that's just a little smarmy.  It's kid smarmy, but still.  The real life characters ham it up a bit and the Muppets get to work in tandem to prevent something bad from happening.

Even as an adult, this makes me smile.  As a kid, this would have been gold.  I'm going to say "see this," but you should read it as "see this with a kid."  I may try to have this available when my nephews come to visit next month.  I'm not entirely sure they're not too old for it, but I figure it's always worth a shot.  I should probably add this to my collection anyway.