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July 26, 2019 7:49 AM   Subscribe

"The Muppet Movie is 40 now. And I could tell you that makes me feel old, but it doesn't. It oddly makes me feel just right. The music has been with me from when I was little until right now, and I can still listen to it and discover new things. How could you not?" Mefi's own Linda Holmes writes about the glories of The Muppet Movie and its music, 40 years on. posted by ChuraChura (37 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
i was watching the last waltz the other night and im really upset that The Band broke up before they could appear on the muppet show because i feel like doctor teeth and garth hudson are kind of kindred spirits (yes i know dr teeth was inspired by dr john, but i mean, cmon)
posted by entropicamericana at 7:57 AM on July 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

One of the things about The Muppet Movie I love is the fact that Paul Williams adored Jim Henson and company so much. They brought out an entirely different side to his music writing, by his own admittance. From an article about his experiences:

He came back maybe a little later—it could have been a couple days—and he said, “Let me ask you a question: What if we do a scene where Gonzo buys a bunch of helium balloons for Camilla, his girlfriend, and he buys too many, and all of a sudden, he experiences flight?” So you have that experience of flying under the balloons—something that is a practical expression of an experience for everyone in the audience to see. That then awakened something in Gonzo: “Oh, this is where I belong. This is part of my world, and I’m going to go back there someday.” What a generous, creative spirit Jim Henson was, that he would continue to prowl around for an idea that would allow us to write the song.

It’s my favorite song. I love the response to “Rainbow Connection”—to have somebody come up and say, “My little girl’s learning to play ‘Rainbow Connection’ on the piano,” is a pure gift and all. But there’s something about Gonzo singing “I’m Going To Go Back There Some Day” that is probably as close as I’ll ever get to feeling like I wrote something that is just purely spiritual.

posted by xingcat at 8:03 AM on July 26, 2019 [18 favorites]

if you don't always sing aloud the line "YOU GOTTA SEE IT IN YOUR MIND," what are you even doing with your life
posted by Countess Elena at 8:09 AM on July 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

Aurora Borealis
Shinin' down on Dallas
posted by delfin at 8:11 AM on July 26, 2019 [10 favorites]

Yes, I can picture that.
And I've abandoned all hope that something better than The Muppet Movie will ever come along.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:44 AM on July 26, 2019

I heard the bit on NPR this morning, and as they were closing out the segment, the host asked, "can we close this segment with the ending of 'Rainbow Connection'?" "Of course," said Linda.

And as it played, I could hear both the host and Linda singing along with the end:

"Someday we'll find it, the Rainbow Connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and, da da deeee da da dooo...."

But I was also already joining in for the final "la da dee da da deee da doooooooo....."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

There are very few things in my life that have topped the sheer hilarious joy I got as a late teen when I experienced the "fork in the road" sight gag and the "Bear left" "Right, frog" exchange for the first time.

And I've even tried Hare Krishna...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:56 AM on July 26, 2019 [15 favorites]

No thanks! I'm going to New York City, to pursue a career in public television!
posted by mightygodking at 8:57 AM on July 26, 2019 [23 favorites]

I've been known to say, "They don't look like Presbyterians to me."
... but only as Dr. Teeth reading Fozzie's line in The Muppet Movie script.

The Muppet Movie has been my favorite movie since I first saw it as a small child. It's the film that I put on when I am completely overwhelmed by anxiety or depression -- it is my safe place. My mother had a copy of the soundtrack, and we listened to it a lot. I think it was one of her favorite films, too. Her favorite song (which, naturally, became my favorite song) was always "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday." Going through childhood (and adulthood!) as someone who wasn't/isn't great at fitting in, it always meant a lot to me that the most poignant song in the film went to Gonzo, the resident weirdo.

She would have been 60 today. It's going to be a difficult day, but I have a copy of The Muppet Movie at home, and it will likely get some use this evening.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:04 AM on July 26, 2019 [16 favorites]

1) I highly recommend the arrangement of Rainbow Connection on handbells.

2) Orson Welles is the Muppet Movie guy who I guess did other shit in the past.
posted by Melismata at 9:05 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yes, but she's my myth.
posted by hanov3r at 9:05 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:06 AM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

I find it hard to believe I was 12 when this came out, because I was so incredibly excited to see it.

Watching Kermit ride a bicycle completely blew my mind.

I am considerably older than my roommates. One of them has a new kitten named Zoot. The first time she did something un-cat-like (she completely missed a jump from one piece of furniture to another), I said 'Oh, no, Zoot skipped a groove again' and they all looked at me completely blankly, with no idea what I was talking about.
posted by hanov3r at 9:17 AM on July 26, 2019 [12 favorites]

Oh geez - 40 years. Our local children's community theater quickly put a moratorium on using "The Rainbow Connection" [or "Tomorrow" (from Annie)] for musical auditions, but I loved this soundtrack so very very much that for one audition I performed "Moving Right Along." Since it was a duet, I performed the Fozzie parts with a sock puppet. I was not cast for that play.

My favorite part in the movie was Kermit riding a bike. His little legs.
posted by queensissy at 9:44 AM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

I still sing “Moving Right Along” in my head pretty much every time I’m in a car, especially if there’s any question of what direction we’re going or if we might be lost. “Gee, I’ve never seen the sun come up in the WEST?!” “Yeah storm is right, should it be snowing?”
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:04 AM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

I grew up during in the NBA era of just the coolest nicknames ever: Julius "Dr. J" Erving, George "The Iceman" Gervin, "Pistol" Pete Maravich. As an inner-city (read: black) kid, I had to choose one for myself during our admittedly pitiful pickup games.

Then I saw "The Muppet Movie" and it was clear.

I was henceforth known as "The Rainbow Connection" and proceeded to shoot high, arching shots from anywhere on the court. Under the basket? Rainbow shot, Rainbow Connection! Half court? Rainbow shot, Rainbow Connection! (Mostly they were Rainbow bricks, but I digress...) I was mocked mercilessly when I missed. So. Much. Fun.

That movie has a special place in mrs theseventhstranger's heart, as well. She will occasionally sing "Movin' Right Along" just for fun. So many good memories and good times from a great movie.
posted by theseventhstranger at 11:27 AM on July 26, 2019 [15 favorites]

True story: the first time I met my wife, I drove her and the friend who set us up to a restaurant so we could get lunch. As we came to a fork in the road, I asked her to say "Bear left". She did, and I replied "Right, frog!" Later she told me that was the moment she knew she wanted to marry me. Our 33rd wedding anniversary is in December.
posted by briank at 11:43 AM on July 26, 2019 [20 favorites]

My brother saw it in the theater yesterday with his seven-year-old son. He realized that he himself was seven when he first saw it in the theater. How’s that for a connection!

One of my favorite parts is the rare duet by Kermit and Rowlf. Since Jim performed both characters, it was usually not practical for them to be in a scene together. Movie Magic to the rescue!

There’s still a chance to see it in theaters this Tuesday in the US!
Fathom Events has showings on the 30th at 12:30pm and 7pm in 1000 theaters across the country. I’m going!
posted by LEGO Damashii at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think the reason "The Rainbow Connection" is the universal sing-along rather than "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday" is that theater kids can't sing the later without bawling their eyes out.

I remember being hired to work patron management at this small/mid sized ballet company and having it be a really intense experience. My role had a lot more responsibility than I had thought it would, the company was strapped for cash and shuffling creative leadership. Very strong personalities running the show upstairs. Very demanding patrons. I had a background in the arts, in that I had studied illustration, but none in administration. I really felt like I'd stepped on a landmine, and didn't know where my tweedy, bookish dork of a self fit into this situation.

About a month into it, I worked my first show with the company, which was The Nutcracker, which is a madhouse to get ready and only gets worse once it starts. I remember bracing myself and walking in the back stage door clutching my clipboard and Will Call binder and stepping into absolute pandemonium. Giant teapots being pushed around, Persian palace guards with streaming banners, women in tutus and men in bespoke uniforms. Huge vermin. A crowd of little girls dressed as mice. Just a riot of color and texture and voices, everybody moving with purpose. Which is when a switch flipped and I figured it out like, "OH I GET IT! This is the Muppet Show. You are their Scooter. Just do what Scooter would do."

After that, it was the best job I ever had, and 10 years into my career in performing arts admin, "what would Scooter do?" has never failed me.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:14 PM on July 26, 2019 [36 favorites]

There was a kid in my high school who would sing a perfect Kermit version of "Rainbow Connection" He ended up doing fairly well for himself.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:29 PM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I hope you sing a mean "Mr. Bass Man." (Edit: comment directed towards Phobos)
posted by Melismata at 12:31 PM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

From the article: And by the way, I'm certain I didn't understand what a funny band name Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem is.

I definitely agree it's an excellent band name, but the way the author phrases this makes me think I've been missing some hidden pun or reference all these years?
posted by jeremias at 12:38 PM on July 26, 2019

Just bought tickets for Tuesday! Was kind of thrilled to find it nearly sold out at the two theaters closest to me - had to go farther away to get better seats!
posted by tangosnail at 12:46 PM on July 26, 2019

“Gee, I’ve never seen the sun come up in the WEST?!”

I'm closing in on 46, AND TO THIS DAY that's how I remember which direction the sun rises from.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:12 PM on July 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

A few years ago Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem made their live debut at Outside Lands here in SF. Mrs. allkindsoftime was singing in a back-up choir for Third Eye Blind's David Bowie tribute that followed the Muppets on the main stage.

I had the great fortune of tracking down my own artist's pass to the festival that year from one of the graffiti artists they brought in to paint the tunnels to the polo fields. He wasn't interested in the lineup and sold me the pass for less than VIP passes were going for. It got me into everywhere, including backstage at the main stage, where I spent most of the weekend.

They had viewing platforms on both sides of the main stage for friends and family of the artists and other randos like me who had all-access, that's where I got to watch TEB and the mrs. perform from.

But the one band that no one was allowed up on those platforms for, so that nobody could look down and see the magic happening, was the Muppets. And I was completely fine with that.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:48 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

Although I have never seen the movie, the Muppet Show was already in reruns in 1980 and stripped at 7:30 on KOMO 4 when I ran across it one night and saw pigs in horned helmets on a Viking ship sing the Village People's In the Navy. I've been a fan ever since.

And man, was I broken hearted when KOMO stopped showing it. Although not as upset as all the young parents who were putting their toddlers to bed with that show -- how they howled.

I still don't understand why that show is still not in reruns anywhere and everywhere -- it was solid gold. Well, except when Sylvester Stallone was the guest star.

But, man, Zero Mostel, on the other hand -- incandescent! That was heavenly.
posted by y2karl at 2:00 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

Well, dang, now I see that I should have scrolled down when I couldn't remember the Village People.
posted by y2karl at 2:25 PM on July 26, 2019

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending,
keep believing, keep pretending..."
posted by Catblack at 2:41 PM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

Which is when a switch flipped and I figured it out like, "OH I GET IT! This is the Muppet Show. You are their Scooter. Just do what Scooter would do."

My ex was with me back when I was still stage managing, and even after a few conversations he still didn't quite get my job. But then at one point I mentioned having to give actors the ten or five minute warning to places, and how I had to knock on dressing room doors and say "ten minutes to curtain, folks..." and suddenly he gasped and said "oh! I get it now! You're Scooter!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:39 PM on July 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

To this day perhaps my one gift to my favorite (30+ year old) niece is that I can sing “Rainbow Connection” in a decent Kermit imitation. So I got that going for me.

The love for The Muppets in this thread makes me feel not so weird. Or maybe just among my kinda weird. And that’s okay, too.

Thanks, all.

Bear left. Frog right.
posted by grimjeer at 8:21 PM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Being old enough to remember the first one means being old enough to understand the passage of time and it’s always seemed to me that the movie is kinda magical in how it doesn’t age. Maybe it’s just me (because it was also my babysitter/ teacher/friend) but I never feel like I’m watching an old movie. I feel like I’m watching a movie that I saw just yesterday. Even if yesterday was decades ago, on Betamax.

I like to speculate that this phenomenon is due to Jim Henson having been a creature made of pure love.

Gooey wishful thinking, perhaps, but sure as shit The Muppet Movie knocks it outta the park on subtext alone- never mind the hilariously perfect plot devices, comedic timing, and catchy tunes to boot.

I mean, The fork in the road. THE FORK IN THE ROAD!
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 9:08 PM on July 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

I’ve had a pretty crappy day.
I just stumbled across this thread.
I also love the Muppets.
I also (somehow) have never seen this movie.*

I now have a ticket to see it tomorrow.
Things are looking up.

*The Muppet Christmas Carol is the Muppet movie that I watched as a child. I adore it.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:55 PM on July 29, 2019 [7 favorites]

You have never seen this movie and you're going to go see it tomorrow for the first time ever?

OMG OMG OMG I wish I were you tomorrow! OMG this movie is so full of wonder and joy and music and feeling...

At some point, ocherdracho, we are going to meet in real life and I'm going to buy you a drink to get you to tell me what this experience was like for you.
posted by hippybear at 9:32 PM on July 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am burning with envy that you get to see it for the first time tomorrow, ocherdraco! Take kleenex. The entire thing is magical but the magic starts in the first 30 seconds of the thing.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:37 PM on July 29, 2019

I will say, that as a person who loves the Muppets and exists in the era of gifs and YouTube, I have seen bits and pieces of the movie over the years, so it won’t be 100% new, but I will still report back.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:39 AM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm taking one of my best friends tonight and she's also never seen it and I'm so excited!!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:07 AM on July 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

In retrospect, I had seen like a scene and a half of the movie before. I absolutely loved it.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:44 AM on July 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

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