Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Random Muppet #18: Avocado

On the Muppet Wiki, there is a "Random Muppet" button which sends you to the page of one of the thousands of Muppets in existence. I will press the button and discuss the importance of the Muppet that comes up, no matter how obscure. No skips. No redos. This is the Random Muppet Challenge.

Random Muppet #18: Avocado

An unemployed critic of low art.

Performer:  Dave Golez

Muppet Universe of Origin:  The Muppet Show

Most Significant Appearance:  The Muppet Show, November 11, 1978, "Episode 305: Pearl Bailey"

While Waldorf and Statler usually assume the duties of being The Muppet Show's harshest critics, they cannot always complete the job on their own.  One day, Statler invites his friend, a sunglasses-totting avocado, to the show.  How Statler met the avocado is never explained, and after Waldorf's brief puzzlement, he grows to accept the presence of the talking fruit.

The avocado is introduced after the opening number in which guest star Pearl Bailey sings "My Soul is a Witness."  It's a nice, respectful number that the old men can't really find anything to complain about. Statler suggests they ask the avocado and he responds positively.  Apparently he's a huge Pearl Bailey fan.

Well, she is a good actress and singer, I suppose.

While the audience is trying to wrap their head around why an avocado was consulted at all, the show continues without him.  Was "Let's ask the avocado!" some sort of pun?  He's missing the next time we visit the balcony, but he returns two more times in the episode.  The first time, Waldorf asks if he's a professional critic, to which the fruit responds that he's unemployed.  Waldorf then suggests that he should try to get into something decent...guacamole!

At the end of the show, the avocado gives his final review of the show.  "It was the pits!"

So...an avocado character was introduced basically to make two avocado-related puns?  That's a far stretch to go for those jokes.  Couldn't they have found some other food-related sketch to fit him into?

It shall remain forever a mystery.

Why is He the Most Important Muppet?

The Muppet Show is no stranger to featuring talking food.  What makes the avocado so special?  Why isn't he featured alongside his edible brethren?

Well, have you ever really stopped to consider the avocado?

Now's your chance!

The avocado is an anomaly of the fruit world.  It is technically a big berry, although it's odd texture and lack of a sweet flavor may convince one otherwise.  In some parts of the world, it is known as a "butter fruit" due to the consistency of the innards.  It has a high fat content, making it a perfect part of a vegetarian diet (or a substitute for meat in areas where meat and other fatty foods are scarce).  Despite this, some culinary artists and cultures do try to include it in sweeter dishes for dessert such as milkshakes, smoothies, and ice cream, infusing a subtle avocado flavor in with the sugary syrup.

But perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the avocado is it's single giant seed.  Out of all fruits, the avocado seed is the third largest, following closely behind the mango and the coconut (which is itself served as just the seed).  The avocado seed is toxic to ingest, but it's so large that no one will be swallowing it anytime soon.

According to the evolutionary biologist Daniel H. Janzen, the avocado is an "evolutionary anachronism" meaning it basically grew up during the wrong time-period.  It's earliest appearance dates back to about 10,000 B.C. which is about 1,000 years short of the 2.5 million year long Pleistocene Epoch where it should have thrived.  This was the time that humans as we know them took form, but giant animals were still common place.  Only these larger creatures could have ingested avocados whole and spread avocado trees with their droppings serving as a natural fertilizer.  The fleshy nature of the fruit suggests that this is the best evolutionary method for seed dispersal, as it would protect both the seed and the animal who swallowed it from harming each other.

And yet, the avocado survives to this day and has made it's way onto The Muppet Show.

And it wears sunglasses indoors for some reason.

The avocado is a fragile creature.  One wrong move and it could end up in a dip.  Life is difficlut for the lowly plant.  So what does it devote it's life to?  What is the only thing it is capable of doing?  Observing art and critiquing it.  The avocado wants to contribute to the world, but it lacks the ability to do anything.  The best it can provide is it's opinion so that others may benefit from his wisdom.  He is a young avocado, and still has a ways to go.  He can only say, "It's the pits!" so many times before the shtick gets old.  But the avocado presses on.  It perseveres.  And the plant that no one thought could last in this world gains immortality.

In action figure form, of course.

Everyone's a critic.  Analyzing the crafts of others keeps us entertained, focused, and sane.  It gives us life.  It reminds us that everyone can contribute to this world, in some way or another.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Random Muppet #17: Dr. Sigmund Sillystuff

On the Muppet Wiki, there is a "Random Muppet" button which sends you to the page of one of the thousands of Muppets in existence. I will press the button and discuss the importance of the Muppet that comes up, no matter how obscure. No skips. No redos. This is the Random Muppet Challenge.

Random Muppet #17: Dr. Sigmund Sillystuff

An absent-minded professor.

Performer:  Jerry Nelson

Muppet Universe of Origin:  Sesame Street

Most Significant Appearance:  The Best of Elmo 2, released in 2010

Elmo is a popular character and has been for over two decades now.  So it's surprising that his second "best of" compilation video was not made until 16 years after the first in 1994.  As with most clip shows, there is a frame story set in place to explain why Elmo is revisiting these old clips (even though the target audience probably wouldn't care or notice a difference).  In the original, Elmo drew many pictures that represented some of his more classic moments and shared them with his friends.  For the sequel, Elmo meets a robot that runs on memories to stay alive and functional.

Well, we are in the 21st Century now.

The clips are more tangentially related to Elmo this time around.  While the first special featured original songs and skits, most of the clips used this time are musicians singing parody versions of their hits and Elmo just happens to be present for them (because Elmo is everywhere at this point).  Throughout the special, the Memorybot requests explanations for certain themes so that his "memory bank" can be completely filled.  And finally, an hour later (the first was only 30 min), there are enough memories to keep the robot in operation.

And the first thing Elmo and the robot do is...the Robot.


Finally, Memorybot's inventor, Dr. Sigmund Sillystuff finds the two and informs us that he created the mechanical man in order to help him with his own faulty memory.  Except it's a robot that runs on memories, it doesn't store them.  He was just asking for it to get misplaced.

For a brilliant man, he's not very bright.

But everything is okay because now, the robot has had so much fun with Elmo that he has made his own memories that he can run on.  The trio celebrates by...doing the Robot.

Why is He the Most Important Muppet?

Dr. Sillystuff invented a robot that runs on memories.  And the robot created it's own memories that it can use to fuel itself.

Ignoring the amazing possibilities and physical magic that comes with the telepathic transfer of a memory from a living being into an automaton...

..not to mention the fact that it can display these thoughts as well...

...Dr. Sillystuff has created a perpetual motion device!

A mind-reading device is an astounding invention in its own right, but while it seems like science-fiction to us, steps are currently being made to that invention becoming a reality (although we are still in the primitive stages).  But a perpetual motion device is impossible in any time period.

Energy has to come from somewhere.  It can't just be created from nothing or destroyed completely.  Yet, this robot supplies its own energy and somehow uses it with even less energy being burned.  This technology is wasted on a mere robot!

Sillystuff should try to implement this technology into vehicular transportation.  This man has single-handedly solved the world's energy crisis! So many problems can be solved with this discovery but he only uses it to help a little red monster think about the time Jason Mraz sang about playing outdoors to the tune "I'm Yours"?  Seriously?!

Dr. Sillystuff isn't just the most important Muppet.  He is the most important person ever.  If only he could remember it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Random Muppet #16: Trumpet Girl

On the Muppet Wiki, there is a "Random Muppet" button which sends you to the page of one of the thousands of Muppets in existence. I will press the button and discuss the importance of the Muppet that comes up, no matter how obscure. No skips. No redos. This is the Random Muppet Challenge.

Random Muppet #16: Trumpet Girl

An omnipresent, silent, trumpet-playing Muppet.

Performer:  Various but Eren Ozker for her one speaking role

Muppet Universe of Origin:  The Muppet Show

Most Significant Appearance:  The Muppet Show, May 7, 1977, "Episode 123: Kaye Ballard"

The Muppet Orchestra was present for every episode of The Muppet Show because, in addition to providing backup for musical numbers, they played the opening and closing themes of the show.  The orchestra members were such a staple of the show that they blended into the background and rarely warranted much attention.  Of course, this was fine, since the orchestra was mostly comprised of Muppet regulars.

While you may have assumed that the orchestra was simply the Electric Mayhem (which is understandable since there is a lot of overlap), the musicians were actually more varied.  The orchestra was comprised of:

- Nigel the conductor
- Floyd, on bass
- Zoot, on saxophone
- Animal, on drums
- Rowlf, on piano
- Crazy Harry, occasionally on triangle
- and Trumpet Girl, on trumpet.

Who?

Yes, Trumpet Girl was the only musician who did not have a life outside of the orchestra pit.  Sure, she would appear in group numbers as a singer or dancer, but she was never even given a proper name.  She was a part of the Orchestra first and foremost.  Therefore, her most significant appearance was in the only episode that focused on the inner workings of the orchestra.

Apparently, Floyd is tired of playing the same, old lame Muppet Show theme, noting that it is a square song written by a square...Nigel the conductor.  Yeah, apparently lowly Nigel penned that classic tune.

Who'da thunk?

Fed up with not being able to play his own theme song, Floyd riles up the rest of the orchestra and tries to convince Kermit to change the tune.  It is during this moment that Trumpet Girl utters her only line, expressing her opinion of the current theme song: "Drag City."  Floyd and the gang write a new tune to open the show called "Fugue for Frog."  It is a haphazard jazzy mess of a song and Kermit refuses to use it as the replacement.

Huh! The! Mup! Pet! Show!

During the closing credits, only Nigel and Rowlf are present to play the closing theme, resulting in a very sparse little number.  Apparently, the rest of the orchestra has refused to return (but we can tell from every other episode that they eventually came back).

Play, hound!

And that's all we really know about Trumpet Girl.

Why is She the Most Important Muppet?

Who is the Trumpet Girl?  Why wasn't Janice used in her place?  What exactly is her purpose in the Muppet Show universe?

One might think we should just write her off.  Clearly she is just a background stand-in puppet with no characteristics or personalities.  No one else cares about her.  It's not like she was important enough to appear in the recent Muppets movie.

Oh, wait.

Yeah.  There she is.  They brought her back for this little cameo.  Apparently she was puppeteered by Rashida Jones who dubbed her "Dolores" since she lacked a name.  However, this remains to be made official.

So why go through the trouble of including her character at all?

Well, consider the role of a pit orchestra.  These are orchestras that usually accompany musicals or ballets or operas or a variety of other forms of live-performance.  In each of these cases, the orchestra is not the main attraction.  Sure, they can be wonderfully talented, but rarely do people go to see a musical for a chance to see the orchestra perform.

The pit orchestra musicians are there to provide support through their music.  They are often tucked away, out of the line of sight.  Some are even hidden completely in a room beneath the stage.  They are meant to be heard, not seen.

Trumpet Girl represents this noble profession of nameless artists.  She reminds us that in life, everyone has a part to play.  Without her, the band will fall apart.  A crucial sound will be missing from the group.  "The Muppet Show Theme Song" would sound completely different without Trumpet Girl's presence.  She is a significant member of the group and she absolutely cannot be replaced...

What's that?  You say she was replaced?

Oh, now Lips is the trumpet player?

Oh.

So...

Who is Trombone Girl and why is she the most important Muppet?

Random Muppet #16: Trombone Girl

Ah, nevermind...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Muppets from Space, Part 5: Whatever

The spaceship lands, the doors open, and a mysterious figure emerges to speak to Gonzo.  Once he is sure that it is in fact the correct Gonzo, he heads back into to the ship so that the aliens can perform "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang.


That's right.  There's no deep meaningful introduction or even an original song to commemorate the reunion of Gonzo and his species.  Just a cover of "Celebration."  Sure, it's a fun little romp, but for all of the mystery and suspense that had been building, the performance seems a little out of place.  All of a sudden, here are a bunch of Gonzos singing and dancing and the crowd just goes along with it, without questioning anything.  Maybe it's supposed to be campy, but it's a little jarring.

It's interesting to see how many variations of Gonzo they can create.

After the song, the Ubergonzo leader presents Gonzo with a helmet and prepares him for his initiation: being fired out of a giant cannon.  See?  All of Gonzo's crazy stunts weren't so crazy after all.  This was just a traditional custom on his home planet!  Okay, I get that, and it is keeping in line with the song "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday," where it is revealed that Gonzo likes to recreate the experience of flying in order to feel at home in the sky.

Although Gonzo would probably prefer to do it without the helmet.

But then, to ruin a happy moment, Mr. Buzzkill Singer shows up with his giant laser gun and threatens the aliens to stay so he can do evil stuff.  However, his gun fails to work and everybody laughs at him, causing him to have a meltdown.  Then, because this movie makes no sense, the Ubergonzo offers to bring Singer back to their planet with them because they find him funny.  Um, the guy just tried to kill you and is clearly mentally unstable.  Why are we rewarding him?

Maybe he shouldn't be the leader anymore, guys.

As the aliens prepare to depart, Gonzo says his goodbyes and everyone gets all weepy.  Gonzo boards the ship and then decides, no, he's going to stay on Earth.  That's his true home and the Muppets are his true family!  That...is a sweet message but it really came out of left field.  The Muppets didn't really do much in the way of bonding with Gonzo over the course of this film.  They were rude to him when he expressed his beliefs, they "rescued" him from the bad guy and still made fun of his beliefs, and it wasn't until the very end that Kermit was like "You should believe what you want to believe and I'll support you."  This may be your family, Gonzo, but they don't really treat you very well.  You should at least consider traveling with the other Gonzos a bit.

In fact, we don't know anything about the other Gonzos!  Where do they come from?  How did Gonzo end up on Earth?  How did they master interplanetary travel?  Why is Gonzo so important to them that they would travel across galaxies to bring him back with them?  These are questions that could have been answered had Gonzo stayed with them, but I guess we can't have him leave the cast permanently.

Well, at least they got Jeffrey Tambor.

So the ship blasts off, and we end with many unanswered questions, but the most pressing one on Gonzo's mind, as he sits on the roof with his friends, is "Why did they make me build a jacuzzi?"

Womp womp!

Muppets from Space is quite disappointing!

It's not very deep indeed.

This movie is really all over the place.  It has some decent scenes and humor throughout, but the story is cliched, the cameos are obnoxious, and the message is confusing.  But there is one thing that this movie did wrong above all else.  It may be a little controversial, depending on how attached you are to the Muppet canon, but I believe this is the biggest flaw with the film:

Gonzo should have remained an unclassified species.

Did you know that this film original had an alternate ending?  It did, and once I tell you that ending, the movie will make a whole lot of sense.

The aliens that came to Earth were not supposed to be Gonzos.  They were supposed to be another species entirely.  They just happened to be huge fans of Gonzo's stunts from The Muppet Show and wanted the chance to meet him.  Gonzo would spend the whole movie thinking his family would come for him and he'd turn out to be dead wrong.

It was a bleaker ending, yes, but it's also bolder and in keeping with the themes set up in the film (not to mention the Muppets' raison d'ĂȘtre).  The Muppets are failures.  And whenever they get knocked down, they stick together and try again.  And through their resilience, they succeed.  Gonzo only has one obstacle during the film: his friends' lack of faith in his beliefs.  Sure, he gets kidnapped and everything, but that's all pointless in the grand scheme of the movie.

Gonzo is supposed to be the weird one.  The oddball in a clan of oddballs.  He is supposed to be lonely and strange.  He finally has the chance to find his purpose in the universe.  Find a place where he belongs.  And in this movie...he gets exactly that.  The fact that his friends didn't believe them has absolutely no bearing on the plot because once the aliens come, there is no more argument.  Yep, Gonzo has a family.  Now what?

By changing to the "happier" ending, characters start doing things that don't make sense.  Gonzo decides not to join them without any cause.  In a story, once you give your main character the happy ending, there has to be a pretty good reason for them to turn it down.  Gonzo doesn't join the aliens because in the original script, the aliens weren't his family.  One could argue that Gonzo is having a change of heart and deciding to stick with his true family is better in the long run, but the movie doesn't set that up properly.  He has very little interactions with his friends during the film.  And even when he's reunited with them after the kidnapping, he still has few interactions.  They all treat him like an acquaintance or a co-worker, not a family member.

Had the original ending stayed intact, Gonzo could have still learned the lesson that "your family is who you grow up with."  Plus, it would have kept the mystery of Gonzo's origin alive.  The possibility that he may have been an alien could still be in effect.  But now that it's confirmed...it feels less special. When something stays a mystery for so long, it's best to keep it that way, lest it lose it's significance.

Oh, so now Gonzo isn't special.  That's what this movie is telling us.

Gonzo is one of my favorite characters, and having him in a starring role was a smart move.  He is capable of exploring complex emotions and storylines.  He could have handled an ending that didn't tie everything up in a neat little bow.

This movie had many other problems as well, but the issue of the ending change was the one that irked me the most.  But, while I've got you here, let's run down the rest of the reasons this movie failed:

1) No original music - There was a definite theme of '60s and '70s funk music, which is strange because it doesn't have anything to do with the Muppets or space for that matter.  If they were trying to make this a period piece, it didn't work.  This is the first Muppet movie without original songs and it suffers for it.

2) The movie is trying too hard to stay relevant - Most Muppet movies have a timeless quality to them.  This one dates itself in 1999 and refuses to budge.  The characters use slang that they wouldn't normally say, references are made to modern day pop culture, and it just feels like a late '90s kids movie.  It's hard to put that into words, but the editing, directing, and writing make it feel very similar to other movies of the time like Baby Geniuses, Inspector Gadget, and Dudley Do-Right.

3) The cameos... - The Muppet Movie had Bob Hope.

4) It wasted a good premise - And I don't just mean the whole "Gonzo wasn't really an alien" thing.  The idea of making a Muppet movie that focused solely on one of the characters.  That could have reinvigorated the whole franchise!  While I was watching this movie, I kept getting flashes of The Great Muppet Caper, which only kept it's focus on Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Piggy.  Muppets from Space could have been the start of something great.  Each of these characters are deep and complex.  They don't need to be regulated to repeating their familiar jokes.  After this, we could have had a movie about Fozzie's stand-up career a la The King of Comedy or a Kermit and Piggy romantic comedy or a Spinal-Tap-esque look at the Electric Mayhem.  Instead, we have to stuff all the Muppets into a boarding house and act like they're all friends all the time without any personal lives of their own.

5) This movie should have just been Close Encounters of the Third Kind - This movie attempts to parody many shows and movies at once and it results in a muddled affair.  In addition to Close Encounters, we get plot points from Men in Black, Independence Day, Alien, E.T., and Star Trek.  I say, take out all the other stuff.  This movie didn't need a villain.  The story of Gonzo trying to reunite with his family is solid enough.  It would have allowed for a deeper exploration of Gonzo's character.  The tension between the conflicting beliefs of Gonzo and his friends would have been made clearer.  And, had the movie kept it's original ending, there would have been a nice distinction between the movie and it's source material to make it a classic in it's own right.

I wanted so badly to enjoy this film. I really did.  I enjoyed what dramatic tension there was in the Gonzo story, but it mostly just made me think about what could have been.  Dave Golez and Gonzo are great and the perfect choice to lead a Muppet movie.  But they didn't deserve this one.  During the promotional tour for The Muppets, Kermit mentioned, "with all due respect to Muppets from Space, um, you don't want that to be the last movie you ever do. You want to do a better one."

Indeed Kermit.  Indeed.


 Gonzo: Forever a Whatever

*      *      *

On a more positive note, here is the best joke in the entire film.

Kermit enters the living room, muttering to himself: "Hm, I wish I could find my pants."

Indeed Kermit.  Indeed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Muppets from Space, Part 4: And Now, We Wait

At the clutches of Dr. Phil van Neuter, Gonzo prepares to have his brains sucked out or scrambled or whatever.  Fortunately, he manages to stall the good doctor, allowing Rizzo enough time to sneak in and chew through Gonzo's straps.  Oh yeah, Rizzo and the rats escaped somehow.  This happens to be the moment that the rest of the Muppets burst in and with Muppets, rats, and neuralyzers altogether, things are bound to be chaotic.

Of course, this is the moment that Singer shows his army general boss that he has captured a real live alien.  He draws back the curtain and we get a clever shout-out to Ridley Scott's Alien in the process.  Or maybe it was Independence Day.  Whatever movie where the alien escapes in the foggy medical bay.

And a doctor is slammed up against the glass.

Now, rather than being rational about it, the army man decides that this is a bunch of nonsense and fires  Singer even though CLEARLY AN ALIEN OR SOME CREATURE HAS GOTTEN LOOSE IN THE BUILDING.

The gang catches up with Animal who is now trying to escape the clutches of a love-starved Kathy Griffin.  Normally I wouldn't bother with these minute plot points, but for all the action, not a lot of stuff is happening storywise.

At least this plot point is wrapped up.

The Muppets manage to escape using their "Door in a Jar."  Well, Pepe escapes through it anyway, since it's only a foot high.  But he gets the others out as well.

This was supposed to be the door to 123 Sesame Street, as a shout out to 1999's other Muppet film.

Back on the Electric Mayhem's bus, Gonzo tells Fozzie to drive him to Cape Doom to meet the spaceship.  The Muppets still think he's crazy (despite the government kidnapping him for being an alien) but Kermit decides they should support their friend anyway.  Piggy alerts the news crew so all the hopeful people hoping to see the alien show up to the beach as well.

Singer, back in his office, laments that he'll never have the proof he needs, but Bobo Rentro tells him that the gang are probably at Cape Doom, and Singer gets out his BFG.

So, now he's going to just kill Gonzo?  Is that the plan?

At Cape Cod, everyone is caught up in spaceship fever.  Scooter breaks his vow of silence after Richard Hunt's death to hock Gonzo T-Shirts, the rats and Dr. van Neuter roast marshmallows, Bunsen and Beaker get a ride with hippies, and Pacey and Joey from Dawson's Creek are also there because it's 1999.  Too bad they couldn't get James Van Der Beek because they wouldn't have to awkwardly mention that they wish Dawson were there just in case the kids in the audience didn't catch the reference.

Some things you just can't make up.

Andie MacDowell finally shows up to fight with Piggy over the coverage of the story and Piggy uses her Mind Mist to steal her job from her.  Piggy!  Why didn't you just use that earlier during all the chase scenes?  So selfish!

And that's the end of that subplot.

Hours pass and the crowd's spirits slowly diminish.  Gonzo remains firmly planted at the water's side, but even he begins to lose faith and decides to call the whole operation off.  He accepts that he has caused mass hysteria based on his own delusions and decides to go out with some dignity at least.

It's refreshing when the movie has good, poignant scenes like this one.

Kermit tells him he has to keep his faith and as if on cue, a spaceship finally appears.  Well, an egg appears.  And it sends out a beam of light in order to direct the actual giant spaceship.  And the suspense builds...

...and builds...

...and builds...

I can't tell if this moment is epic or just obvious padding.

...and we're out of time for today!

Tomorrow, the ship lands, Gonzo meets whoever or whatever is inside, and we find out if the movie can be redeemed in the closing minutes!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Muppets from Space, Part 3: From Bad to Worse

Oh, Muppets from Space.  You started a little shaky, but you at least had a promising premise.  But this next batch of scenes makes me so disappointed in you.  I know you're better than this.

So, Gonzo (and Rizzo) are brought before Tambor who has yet to show any signs of being villainous.  But suddenly the music gets very sinister and he pulls out an examination glove in order to test the limits of Gonzo's nose flexibility.

This is...not what I want to think about when I think of a Muppet movie.

Gonzo is still in high spirits, but when he begins to laugh at a joke Rizzo tells, Tambor (who I'll now refer to as Singer, his character's name, since he is no longer good ol' Tambor at this point) flips out and yells at him like a lunatic.  Apparently Singer has gone mad after years of being mocked for his beliefs in alien life forms.  And what's he going to do now that he has one who is in contact with a whole species?  He's going to remove his brain for experimentation.  See, even though Gonzo doesn't know anything about the people contacting him, Singer assumes he is just lying for no reason at all.

This dramatic conflict came out of nowhere and it just makes me feel uncomfortable.  No one is behaving rationally.  We've had 3 movie villains now.  Doc Hopper was ruthless, but he was still human and his goals were clear and driven by business.  Nicky Holiday was outlandish, but his spoiled brat routine was funny and kept with the parodic tone of the film.  Long John Silver was Tim Curry.  Each of these are memorable and classic.  K. Edgar Singer is none of those things.  This is not a slight on Tambor, but it's just the way he is written.  Singer doesn't know what he wants and just behaves irrationally.  Maybe if this was an intentional character choice, I could play along.  But it seems as if he is just doing evil things in order to fill the movies evil quota.  Mel Brooks' cameo in The Muppet Movie was a similar character, but he was parodying mad scientists and stayed true to himself.  Singer is just a hot mess.

As if to further emphasize how stupid this movie is fast becoming, Singer's henchman, Hollywood Hulk Hogan seizes Rizzo, gives a shout out to his fans and promotes his upcoming fights, then tosses Rizzo away because he's doing the evil thing now.

The Muppet Movie had Edgar Bergen in it.

Rizzo ends up in COVNET's rat testing facilities (which is treated like a prison so we can have a bunch of prison movie parodies).  David Arquette is the scientist who torments the rats for no reason.  That's every character's motivation in this film.  "No reason."

The Muppet Movie had Richard Pryor in it.

Meanwhile, outside COVNET, the Muppet gang attempt to break in to the facility.  First, Miss Piggy uses her Mind Mist on Ray Liotta the security guard.

Ray Liotta's okay.  He can stay.

Then, in order to get past all the armed guards, the gang uses the Invisibility Spray on themselves and...wait a minute.  Both the Mind Mist and the Invisibility Spray were used to get past guards.  Why not use the same item for both jobs?  The Invisibility Spray is a temporary substance, but there were no limits on the Mind Mist.  Just have Ray Liotta escort you through the building.  Stop making this complicated for yourselves Muppets!

But then we'd lose this neat footprint effect.

Inside, Gonzo waits in a cell and he is fed lunch by Singer's assistant, Bobo the Bear...whose name is Rentro for some reason.  The sandwich Gonzo receives begins talking to him, acting as another communication device from his alien family.  The sandwich asks for a good place to land the spaceship and Gonzo, worried that Singer will try to catch them, tells them to land at the Cape Doom lighthouse.  Bobo overhears this, but he's a nice guy and keeps it to himself for the moment.  The sandwich bids farewell and there is an uncomfortable moment between the two as Gonzo tries to eat it.

It's okay; the sandwich consents.

But before Gonzo can bite into it, doctors come to prepare him for the lobotomy.  Another Muppets Tonight alum Dr. Phil Van Neuter will be the surgeon.  I'm going to have to come back to the show in a later post, I guess.  There were just too many new characters in it.

Back with the invisible group, Fozzie uses the bathroom and washes his hands afterward, revealing his furry paws.  Professional security guard Kathy Griffin comes across this odd sight and attempts to handcuff the disembodied hands (rather than, I don't know, acting like a normal person).  Fortunately, invisible Animal chases her off, presumably to make her his unwilling bride.  Apparently, this is the best scene in the movie because it warranted an action figure.

Ah, something to place next to "Usher Scooter" and "Resort Smithers."

Tomorrow, Gonzo nearly loses his brain, making him the most rational character in the film.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Muppets from Space, Part 2: Let's Go Crazy!

Armed with a divine assignment, Gonzo takes the ridable mower and trims a message into the front lawn.  The sight of a dazed Gonzo putting around on this tractor to the tune of James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing" is terrific.  It's clear that they just propped the puppet up and took him for a ride, but it completely sells the moment.

Gonzo,  NO!

The next day, Jeffrey Tambor (his character name is K. Edgar Singer, but he's Jeffrey Tambor) checks his satellite photos and notices Gonzo's message back to his race, "I AM HERE."  Thinking that there is finally an alien on Earth, he decides he must get his hands on whoever crafted that message.

I think he's supposed to be the villain, but I'm kinda rooting for the guy.

There's a moment in which Rizzo and Pepe take advantage of Gonzo's delusions in order to get him to construct a jacuzzi and he throws a big welcoming party for his incoming family.  Unfortunately, no one shows up and Johnny Fiama and Sal cut into the cake too early.

And that takes care of their appearance.

Gonzo turns to Bunsen and Beaker for help contacting the mothership.  They fit him in tinfoil and a colander in order to harness the electricity from the lightning strike to make him a receiver.  However, this only succeeds in making him a fancy TV antenna.  Coincidentally, the Muppet gang is watching a show called UFO Mania which is also looking for proof that alien-life is real.  Gonzo tunes in just as they are asking for messages to be sent to their studio address and he misinterprets this as a message from his people telling him where to meet him.

To be fair, Andie MacDowell sounds just like she could be of Gonzo's species.

Gonzo takes the tractor down to the television studio where Miss Piggy happens to also work.  I skipped over this part earlier, but she's been telling everyone that she is the host of the news program when she is actually just a lowly assistant.  In yet ANOTHER coincidence, Shelley Snipes (MacDowell) cannot come to the studio and Miss Piggy is put on in her place.  Also, Rob Schneider is the producer, in case you were wondering.

I'll let you form your own opinions.

Miss Piggy struggles to maintain a professional demeanor and she nearly blows her chance, but Gonzo crashes the set and starts talking about his crazy epiphany.  Miss Piggy begins to interview him for the show (because this is how television works) and Gonzo's message to his family is broadcast everywhere.

BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE.

Tambor sees the show and sends his men in black to take Gonzo back to COVNET.  Just how long is this show anyway?  It's on when Gonzo is working with Muppet Labs, he travels by tractor to get to the studio, Miss Piggy appears to be starting off the program when he gets there, Tambor sees it and then his men get there right when it ends.  All of this on live TV.

What the heck have we been watching for the past 3 hours?

Anyway, the men say that they'll reunite Gonzo with his family, but when Piggy tries to follow them for an interview, one of the agents stays behind to participate in a cringe-worthy fight scene.  Now, Miss Piggy has fought humans before.  The fight scene in The Muppet Movie for instance is great.  She takes out multiple guys and it's a good silly brawl.  Here, there is martial arts involved and it ends with the secret agent getting kicked in the nuts, complete with sound effect and exaggerated "Ouch" face.  (Sorry for the poor quality of the video, but it was written that way.)

I have to do what in my big scene?

Piggy learns that the agent is actually working for the evil government where they have evil plans for Gonzo which...I don't really see what the big deal is at this point.  Both Tambor and Gonzo want the same thing, proof that there is alien life out in space.  Why is the movie treating this like a bad thing?

It must be bad.  She had to tie the guy up and torture him to get him to talk.

Piggy relays the message to the gang, and they decide to break into the COVNET facility and rescue Gonzo.  And this is the James Bond "Q" section of the movie where Bunsen gives them the necessary super-gadgets that they'll need for their quest.

 Sadly temporary.

Among the items are a rubber duckie that shoots invisible spray, a Mind Mist that can hypnotize anyone, and my personal favorite, the Door in a Jar.

When is a door not a door?

Tomorrow, Gonzo gets experimented on and this action-thriller-heist spectacle gets underway.  This movie needs more space scenes with talking fish...