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Muppet Christmas Carol

Muppet Adaptations: The Muppets and Their Charm

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This blog post was inspired by a tweet that, despite many futile attempts, I cannot seem to excavate. A tweet so thought-provoking, I felt it necessitated a deep dive into its implications. Because I cannot recall this tweet word for word, I will have to paraphrase: It proposed, with ostensible half irony, that a Muppets: Napoleon movie might have treated the subject matter and titular character more delicately, more interestingly, and with a much greater impact than Ridley Scott’s recent blockbuster. After seeing Napoleon myself, (which might, surprising to myself, crack my top five of 2023) I would love to see a Muppet-ized version. Kermit as Napoleon Bonaparte? Miss Piggy as Josephine? Who wouldn’t love to see that?

This tweet also got me thinking of other movies that could go through the “Muppetifier.” As of now, there are only two direct adaptations: Treasure Island and The Muppet Christmas Carol. Of course, not all films lend themselves to a Muppet version. For example, I wouldn’t say a Muppets Lost in Translation or Muppets Parasite or Muppets: The Graduate would be all too appropriate. (Although, admittedly, I would absolutely see each of these.) It is the epic, sprawling stories, to which I believe we have become rather lukewarm culturally, that serve as the best canvases for our loveable cast of fuzzy characters.

What’s needed is a story of epic adventure. With a vastness to it. This is why Muppets Treasure Island and The Muppets Christmas Carol work. Both have their own grandeur: the former, a straight up adventure swashbuckler – stretching, interminable seas and clashing of swords and will to power; the latter, a magical adventure whose main plot transpires within a few hours but traverses the psychology of its patient by means of Ebenezer Scrooge’s Past, Present and Future.

Muppet Christmas Carol 2The very fact that the Muppets star in these films is testament to our opinions on said stories. These goofy, often slapstick characters don’t necessarily parody these works, but they do add a healthy dose of humor. An innocence, even. But the greatest effect is that, with these aforementioned qualities, when significant and deep moments occur in the film, the seriousness is elevated by contrast to the zany actions or even their physical constitution as cute, little creatures with funny voices.

So, as good or important as the original films may be, which in turn have been adapted themselves numerous times, in our modern times we may find them bloated, overly epic, and incongruous to our contemporary sentiments and aesthetic tastes.

We have seen so many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ most beloved work. But the Muppets version, along with Scrooged, sits somewhere between parody and pastiche, using the source material where it works, inserting its own flourishes where needed.

Kermit is legitimately one of my favorite characters of all time. His disposition cannot be simply distilled into one or two characteristics, like so many of the secondary or tertiary characters of the cast. Green, good-natured, good willing, and hesitant head honcho of the Muppets, Kermit the Frog is simultaneously strong and confident, yet sometimes timid and unsure. But he is always kind and giving. His role in Muppets Christmas Carol is significantly downsized, playing Scrooge’s employee Bob Cratchit, the hardworking, kindhearted man who, even though he is paid so little, feels obligated to toast his stingy and coldhearted employer when the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to see the Cratchit family.

Omnipresent since I can remember, the Muppets inhabit an interesting space among my memories. I imagine this is the same for many, many others across generations. Kermit and Co. seem to resurface every now and then, with a new short-lived show or feature film. For this, I’m not sure that the Muppets necessarily belong to a certain generation. I think this is one of the Muppets’ primary appeals. So, if it’s in their own standalone film like the original 1979 The Muppet Movie or the two movies from the last decade, the Muppets is a spectacle that brings together different people of different backgrounds. And I think this parallels so perfectly with A Christmas Carol due to their long-lasting appeal and heartwarming qualities.

The Muppet Christmas Carol screens starting Tuesday, December 19th.
Tuesday, Dec 19th – 3pm
Friday, Dec 22nd – 5:15pm
Saturday, Dec 23rd – 4:15pm
Tickets

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