Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Part 2: Robots and Critics and Bears, Oh My!

Alright, it's time for the introduction of Dorothy's travel companions.  While most versions enjoy spending time with each character by themselves, things feel a little rushed this time around, leaving me to wonder what the other 3/5ths of the movie are going to focus on.

First up is Kermit as the Scarecrow.  I know we have to have Kermit as this character because Gonzo and Fozzie fit so well with the other two travelers, but Kermit never really strikes me as a Scarecrow.  The Scarecrow has to be somewhat of an idiot savant, seemingly dumb, but capable of brilliant insights due to his simple approach to complex ideas.  Kermit is already smart.  So, he has to be dumbed down a bit at times, which just doesn't work.  Link Hogthrob would have been a great Scarecrow, but that ain't happening.

I do like how they incorporate his collar into the costume.

Kermitcrow and Dorothy bond over their dreams of becoming a star and Kermit reminds her to follow her dreams.  Thanks for the advice!

Down the road, Gonzo is frozen as the Tin Thing.  Unlike the Tin Woodman, the Tin Thing is a robot created by the Wicked Witch to spy on Oz's inhabitants.  He knows everything with his computer brain, but wishes he has a heart like when he was a whatever.  Gonzo fits perfectly for this role because, like the Tin Woodman, he is capable of great, subtle compassion.

Good casting choice and a great design.

Finally, we run into the Cowardly Fozzie Bear-Lion.  Fozzie often gets stuck with this role and it works because he is such a weak-willed character, but when his friends are in trouble, he defends them to the end.  Also, the Lion wants to be a stand up comedian, but he has stage fright.  Of course.

This movie might just work out after all.

With our team assembled, it's time for a song!  Unfortunately, it is no "If I Only Had a Brain" or "We're Off to See The Wizard."  So, lets move right along.

Next scene!

Our group encounters their first obstacle, a precarious bridge that is guarded by the Kalidah Critics.  The Kalidahs are your typical Oz monsters, but now, instead of being physically intimidating, it is a mental attack on our heroes psyche.  This scene works very well.  It's not perfect, because there is never a point in which the characters are in any real danger, but the fact that the monsters are harsh critics fits with the new theme of achieving one's dreams and over-coming self doubt.

Finally, a valid role for these two!

Of course, the Lion has the hardest time crossing the bridge, but this results in a super sweet moment in which the Tin Thing goes back across the perilous canyon in order to calmly talk his friend through it and support him.  It's very genuine and the moment isn't overly broad or played for laughs.  It's just Gonzo doing what Gonzo does best.

Across the bridge, the gang makes it to the nightclub Poppyfields, referencing the deadly, sleep-inducing poppy fields from the story.  This seems to be the hangout spot for the Electric Mayhem and leftover characters from Muppets Tonight.

Hey, Clifford's got his shades back!

The band plays a hypnotic song called "Nap Time" that causes Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion to fall asleep.  Now, as in the original, the flowers don't affect the non-organic Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, although it isn't really explained why the song won't affect them this time.

We went deaf, momentarily?

Nonetheless, the Muppets are too small to carry the sleepers through out of danger, so they must call upon the mousy Munchkins from earlier.  So, basically, the mice from the original are combined with the Munchkins.  That's clever.

Good job, movie!

Up next, our friends wake up and we make it to the Emerald City!

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