I am a huge mark for the Muppets. Eleven-year-old me sat there in front of the old TV on a Sunday evening fanboying out on puppets and celebrities. It was The Muppet Show where I saw Steve Martin for the first time. Since then, I taped every interview and behind-the-scenes stories about Jim Henson. I could go on. I love the Muppets.
But things wained with the passing of Jim Henson. While post-Henson The Muppet Christmas Carol is a classic, things just weren’t the same. Muppets Tonight? Ugh, don’t get me started. Over time, my love for the Muppets was replaced by Monty Python and SNL.
“If you’re a Muppet fan, this tiny documentary is made for you…”
Now I’m an old man and the relevance of the Muppets are slowly fading away. They shut down Muppet-vision 3D permanently at Disney California Adventure. The gang shows up here and there infrequently. Passing them on to the next generation is getting harder and harder. My kid would rather play with Pinky-Pie over Miss Piggy. In spite of the passage of time, the child in me still has a place for the Muppets.
So, let’s talk about Muppet Guys Talking. If you’re a Muppet fan, this tiny documentary is made for you. Just as the title suggests, it features five of the Muppet guys and gal…talking. The performers include: Frank Oz (Bert, Fozzie, Miss Piggy), Fran Brill (Zoe, Betty Lou, Polly Darton), Jerry Nelson (Count Von Count, Snuffleupagus, Robin), Dave Goelz (Gonzo, Zoot, Dr. Bunson Honeydew) and Bill Barretta (Pepe, Bobo, Johnny Fiama).
Just a warning, no Muppets actually appear in this documentary, except in TV and film clips. The doc uses some talking-head footage, but mostly a casual living room conversation, including a quick water break in the middle.
“…some talking-head footage including a quick water break in the middle.”
Even though the film is void of behind-the-scenes footage (except for brief clips from their 60-Minutes interview from the 80’s), the gang discuss many topics, like how their most iconic characters were born, what it was like working for the Muppets, the dangerous situations they found themselves while filming the various Muppet movies, and of course, their personal interactions with insight from Jim Henson himself.
I don’t want to spoil much about the discussion, see the film. If anything, it reminded me of what a genius Jim Henson was in the way he created and performed characters as well as his innate sense of how to entertain the fans. I will end with one story. When I saw The Muppet Movie for the first time, Kermit the Frog is singing Rainbow Connection on a log in the middle of a pond. Curiosity made me wonder if Jim Henson was in a tight barrel submerged underwater in the middle of a lake with his arm sticking up a log. The answer is yes.
Muppet Guys Talking (2018) Directed by Frank Oz. Featuring Frank Oz, Fran Brill, Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, and Bill Barretta.
3.5 out of 5 stars