A long-standing Thanksgiving tradition of mine has been to curl up after a holiday feast and soak up the original "Muppet Movie". The timeless comedy and connection that Jim Henson's Muppets share, warms the heart and recharges the soul. So treasured is my view of the Muppets I've been reluctant to embrace anything that features Kermit without Jim Henson. However, a screening of "Kermit's Swamp Years" at the recent Mill Valley Film Festival has started to change my mind.
Billed as "Meet the Muppets", this special presentation at the Rafael Theatre included watching "Kermit's Swamp Years" and then having a panel discussion with members of the Henson production team. The films co-star Goggle, performed by Joey Mazzarino, acted as the host of the show. And as the off-green frog with glasses helped field questions from the all ages' audience, I became hopeful that this next generation of Muppets could work out all right.
"Kermit's Swamp Years" now available on home video or DVD, works as a prequel, recounting the story of Kermit the Frog long before Dom Deluise came paddling up to our banjo-picking hero in the "Muppet Movie". "Swamp Years" is a light hearted adventure that follows a trio of friends who suddenly find themselves out of their home swamp for the very first time.
The movie continues with the original Henson traditions, mixing good-natured values in with a brand of wacky humor that only Muppets can pull off. There are numerous musical numbers that roll the story along and just enough nods to the past to make it fun for old-school fans like me. The cameo by the young Statler and Waldorf is priceless.
At the panel after the movie, the "Kermit's Swamp Years" creators were hopeful that the economics of digital filmmaking and the endearing appeal of the Muppets will allow them to make more adventures with Kermit and this new cast of friends, and even hinted a possible return of a new "Muppet Show".
Now, before seeing "Kermit's Swamp Years", hearing news like this would make me break out in hives, expecting anything new to be nothing more than crass commercialism cashing in. However as I see the Jim Henson spirit maintained by the makers of this new tale, I think I'll be able to look forward to new Muppet stories, made for lovers and dreamers and me.
For Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2002 - Purple - Air Date: 11/27/02
Kermits Swamp Years
USA - 2002