Posts Tagged ‘muppets’

CFAC Day 1: The Muppet Christmas Carol

Nanu Advent Day 1

First of all, welcome to CFAC – the Christmas Film Advent Calendar to end all advent calendars – a guide to the best Christmas films that you may or may not have seen, with one a day to get you excited for Christmas. The guide will be simple – every day, behind every window, a new film will be posted – these films won't be in any particular order, they do not start at the worst and get better, they have been crafted to adapt to the mood of that time of the month. But more than this, a separate  alternative film will be offered if you fancy something different – or are just plain not up for the movie on offer! So, without further ado, let us begin…

Day 1: Let's Get Christmassy!

So, it's December 1st, and out of nowhere, November is over. The year 2012, which we had anticipated for years as the year of the future, has come and is almost over. All that excitement gone to nothing. All that is left is that long hard slog 'til Christmas – work is almost over, and school is nearing , all the while, days are getting longer, and the worst of the winter weather is yet to hit. So what better way to start the month then with a massive dose of Christmas!

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Director: Brian Henson, 85 mins

Creeping into the top five of most Christmas film lists, The Muppet Christmas Carol does everything that the Muppets did so well, back when they were still doing it with some sense of regularity – it's brilliantly funny no matter your age, cleverly written and vibrant in colour and sound. Although not the only Dickens' featured in this list, The Muppet take is probably my favourite and does the original text justice, keeping the essence and then stuffing it through the minds of adults who never grew up. I imagine few won't have seen this, so dust off your copy and whack it in while you put up some decorations – this is guaranteed to kick off the month with a smile – the perfect film to get anyone in the Christmas mood, and so light that you can have it on in the background while you work on g

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etting things festive without missing a beat. Here's a clip of one of the songs:

Is it Michael Caine's greatest film role? No. Not even close. But then again, it's probably the role he'd most like to be remembered for, around this time of year. By children. Who haven't seen him do Batman.

Alternative Film

Arthur Christmas (2011)

Sarah Smith and Barry Cook, 97 mins

Going along with the Kids Christmas vibe, a modern film that will no doubt find it's way into the christmas canon soon enough is Aardman's 3D adventure Arthur Christmas. Questions of Santa Claus' apparent limited abilities are tested to their limits by this animated tour de force that exposes the incredibly technical world of Santa and his Elves. It's a star studded film with an incredible cast, and with Peter Baynham helping out in the writing department, it has an humorous charm that will not disappoint, and echoes the bright and brilliant sparkle of the Muppets that may be wearing thin to some who have watched their Christmas Carol to death – or worry that the songs won't match up to the brilliant “Man or a Muppet”.

And if you can find it…

Wood Of Value (2010)

Director: Bjørn Ståle Bratberg, 16 mins

This short documentary traces the  journey of a tree from its home in Norway, to it's place in the streets of London. It might be quite hard to track down, but if you can find it, this short film about the journey of the hallowed christmas tree, will help anchor your christmas spirits into the magnitude and role of winter, life and nature. You can catch some of the film here, or else see extracts from the Zagreb Film Festival.


Kermit the Cycling Frog


Everybody loves the Muppets, probably. From a very young age Sesame Street teaches you about the alphabet, shapes and counting. This is unknowingly your first induction

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into the world of Muppets. The Muppets Show with its mix of humour and sentimentality breathes life into the otherwise stagnant variety show format. Then the various Muppet movies remove these characters from the traditional show and enter them into a variety of roles (I am particularly fond of this aspect – A Muppets Christmas Carol being the first film I ever saw in a cinema). There is something about these puppets that has a lasting appeal, with this year seeing the release of the film ‘The Muppets’ and the recent popularity of the Muppets youtube channel (go check it out if you haven’t already) they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. So why do we still love the Muppets? I think I have come up with the answer: Muppets ride bikes.

Bear with me and watch this:

See, wasn’t that amazing? Yes, yes it was. It is a simple little clip that illustrates how the Muppets induce suspension of disbelief. For the few seconds that Kermit rides his bike in The Muppet Movie (1979) he is no longer a puppet he is an actor. Sure you can see the strings in The Muppet Show, the Swedish Chef has actual human hands and a lot of the Muppets only ever appear from behind well placed walls but the Muppets are, more than any other fictional characters, part of our world. It is simple acts like interacting with real people (Elmo testified to US Congress, yes that actually happened), playing musical instruments and most importantly riding bikes that make Kermit and co real. Another distinctly Muppet trait is that throughout appearances there doesn’t seem to be much continuity. On the show it’s friends and co workers, investigative reporters in The Great Muppet Caper and college graduates trying to make it big in The

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Muppets Take Manhattan. This lack of continuity allows the Muppets to be actors in various movies and television shows rather than the fictional characters they are.

Another aspect of the films is the complete ineptitude of the Muppet actors when it comes to staying in character. Kermit will regularly break the fourth wall for an apt aside or glance which completely draws the viewer into his world. We are in short watching the movies along with them, somehow by twisting their hand towards the camera the puppeteer turn these puppets into people we can relate to allowing us to disregard cynicism and bathe in the absurd.

These last few weeks I have been soaking up any and all Muppets material I could get my hands on to understand what to expect from the new Muppet film. The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan are the first three Muppet films and arguably the best indication of what to expect. All three are comedy musicals that star Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and Miss Piggy aptly supported by a strong cast. So this time round Bret Mckenzie (Flight of The Conchords) takes on the music and the story involves the Muppets reuniting to save Muppet Theatre. Cameos are also a Muppet tradition, and already we are told that the likes of Lady Gaga, Mila Clunas and Billy Crystal are set to cameo. Starring Jason Segal (How I met your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshal) who also writes and co-directs the film I am hoping this new film is in pretty safe hands.

Enough gushing over the Muppets from me, I hope you are as excited for the new Muppets film as I am, to help get you into the mood here are my top five Muppet Moments:

Muppets Windmills of Your Mind
C is for Cookie
Rainbow Connection
Light the Lamp, Not the Rat
Muppets Youtube