Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Part 3: Spot the Reference!

The Muppet Christmas Show is about to begin.  After asking the audience to silence their cell phones (in which the joke is that everyone has a cell phone to turn off, my what a difference 10 years makes), the show begins proper with an extended Moulin Rouge! parody.

I feel stupid and contagious.  Here we are now.  Merry Christmas.

I have very mixed feelings about this segment.  First, it has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.  It is just a very obvious attempt to be current and hip and, like so much of the film, instantly dates the movie.  That being said...it is a great moment.  You may disagree, but I think, by itself, it's brilliant.

The casting of Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo, and Fozzie is perfect.  It's almost as if the original were made just so the Muppets could spoof it.

Robin as the Green Absinthe Fairy is...a little unsettling.

The moment when all the chickens come out as the female dancers and the penguins come out as the tuxedoed patrons clucking and quacking their songs is inspired.  And when Piggy cuts through the chaos to reprimand everyone for singing their songs at the same time, I'm reminded that there is still something to be salvaged within this film.  This is funny material.  Too bad the Muppet viral videos didn't exist at this point, because these five minutes deserve their own separate showcase.

Whether you love or hate Moulin Rouge!, you'll enjoy "Moulin Scrooge."

Unfortunately, the bit ends and Pepe finally gets an opportunity to inform Kermit about the contract switch.  Kermit decides to run the bag of ticket sales over to the Bitterman Bank immediately, but Fozzie decides he should do it instead of Kermit (and instead of performing his stand-up routine).  This is a questionable decision that will only lead to bad things, but logic doesn't matter when the story has to continue.

Pepe fills in for Fozzie, creating an interesting moment where a modern Muppet is recreating a classic act.  Pepe's accent prevents him from getting his jokes across, leading Waldorf and Statler to give him a heckling filled with shrimp-puns.  It works.  It took a while, but the the quality of the film is vastly improving.

Then we get to the Fozzie-delivery sequence.  We know that something has to go wrong, but it can at least be interesting and entertaining, right?  Well, first, Fozzie runs into a Steve-Irwin-like character who wants to capture him.

This moment won't seem awkward, tasteless, and annoying in the future, right?

Fortunately, Fozzie manages to evade the tracker by getting himself painted green and blending in with the Christmas trees.

Good.  That's over with.

Unfortunately, Fozzie runs into a charity Santa Claus and switches bags with the man.  Even worse, Fozzie now ends up looking like the Grinch, prompting the Whos from the 2000 film version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas to chase him down for being that "green guy who stole Christmas."  This is so dumb.  If they have to explain their own reference, it's not worth it.

The joke is self-explanatory.  Just let it be.

Fortunately, Fozzie gets the paint washed off and makes his way to Bitterman's office.  I mean, we know it's not going to end well, since the bags were switched, but at least the movie gets funny again.  After a humorous exchange with a security guard, Fozzie makes his way to Bitterman's floor which is guarded by lasers.

Bitterman hates visitors.

I was fearing another unoriginal movie reference during this segment, but I was pleasantly surprised by the tactics Fozzie used to get through the lasers.  It's completely in character and a twist on the old "laser room" cliche.

Of course, all of Fozzie's efforts are for naught since the bag is filled with junk.  Bitterman gleefully kicks Fozzie out of her office and evil prevails.  Back at the post-show Christmas party, a drunk Scooter hits on the female Whatnot Muppets as Kermit searches for Fozzie.

Bringing Scooter out of retirement for this?  Don't worry, he'll suffer a much worse fate.

Kermit finds a broken Fozzie and realizes that the money and the theater have been lost.

A genuinely sad moment in this haphazard movie.

Kermit flips out at Fozzie (echoing It's a Wonderful Life where George Bailey flips out at his uncle for losing the money and ruining the whole business) and it's really heartbreaking to see Kermit so mad and Fozzie so guilt-ridden.  Not even a nearby Christmas Story reference can lighten the mood.

Well, it helps a little.

Up next, Kermit accepts that he has completely failed when fate intervenes.

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