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Tag Archive: It’s a Mad World


Review by C.J. Bunce

Thanks to Fathom Events and other film retrospectives over the years, movie audiences can revisit their first viewings of some of the best films ever made.  In that league comes The Muppet Movie, which just wrapped its 40th anniversary with two days of screenings.  Like the one-of-a-kind The Beach Boys and The Bee Gees, and the symbols of goodness everywhere: Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, and Steve Irwin, The Muppets are a truly unique team, and Jim Henson and his $65 million box office hit The Muppet Movie reflects why they created the word “iconic” in the first place.  It says something when a retrospective anniversary screening can make the week’s Top 10 box office after 40 years.  The Muppets are as accessible and necessary as they’ve ever been.

Paul Williams’ musical score and powerful songs might be the high point of the movie, from “The Rainbow Connection,” to “Movin’ Right Along,” to Gonzo’s emotional “I’m Going to Go Back There Again.”  Or maybe it’s the magic, the forgetting we’re absorbed in characters played by actors that are a frog and a pig and a bear and a dog and whatever Gonzo is.  Or maybe it’s the behind the scenes magic.  Filming in the lagoon once used for Gilligan’s Island, Henson spent an entire day perfecting the scene with Kermit singing in a wetsuit under water, perched inside a metal tank, reaching upward to give Kermit his character.  You wouldn’t know any of it happened that way from the perfectly still water and multiple angles the song is filmed from.  Or that Kermit was operated my remote control for the Schwinn scene (but Kermit the Muppet really was riding that bicycle, no strings attached!).  Jim Henson can’t be overstated as sitting among the kings of creating the fantastical.

But even all of those great components can’t beat the storytelling.  Full of honesty and heart, Kermit’s path is a classic reluctant hero’s journey, equal to that of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Luke in Star Wars, Frodo and Bilbo in Tolkien’s stories (Fozzie is a great Samwise), Harry in J.K. Rowling’s series.  Here our green felted friend assembles a group of new friends to help him succeed by story’s end.  The Muppets had already been known to us through The Muppet Show, yet this movie succeeded in getting audiences to meet them all over again.  The story is playful, too, allowing its own script to become a plot device with the characters.

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Winters finds the big WWith the passing Thursday and public announcement yesterday of classic movie and TV comedian Jonathan Winters, we thought we’d post a few clips of some our favorite bits of his unique humor. In countless interviews Robin Williams counted Winters as his comedic inspiration, both men at the top of the world of improvisation.  Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1925, Winters went on to serve in the Marines in World War II.  His first TV appearance was on Chance of a Lifetime in 1954, and his 15-minute variety show The Jonathan Winters Show on October 23, 1956, sponsored by Tums for RCA on the NBC network included the first color video ever to appear on television.  That’s right, it was Jonathan Winters who brought color to the TV-viewing world. 

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Every generation who watched TV encountered Winters in some way.  He led the second generation of modern American comedic actors, following The Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy.  He was known by some as the Hefty garbage man and by others for his recurring bit as Maude Frickert.  Like many comedians in his and later generations, he released many comedy albums on LPs.  In 1961 Winters first entered the world of sci-fi TV in The Twilight Zone episode “A Game of Pool” with Jack Klugman.  He appeared in more than 50 movies and guest starred and starred on many TV shows in his 60 years as an actor, including repeated appearances in every major variety and talk show over the years. 

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