The film “Muppets Most Wanted” opens nationwide in theaters this weekend.
I’ve had this weekend circled on my calendar for a long time. I am a Muppet lover. A Muppet freak. A Muppophile. Not that I need to prove my Muppet cred, but let me share with you a few incontrovertible facts:
#1. I use Muppet band-aids exclusively.
#2. The vows I spoke to my wife on the day of our wedding were the lyrics from “Movin’ Right Along“.
#3. Kermit the Frog and The Muppets are the theme of my infant son’s nursery.
#4. I’m currently listening to Muppet songs while I write this blog.
I won’t bore you with numbers 5-100.
But how does such an
o̶b̶s̶e̶s̶s̶i̶o̶n̶ appreciation of all things Muppets begin? Quite easily. 1979’s “The Muppet Movie” was my favorite movie as a small child. And as an older child. And as a teenager. And as a young adult. And as an adult. I didn’t know who the majority of the humans were in Jim Henson and company’s debut film, but I knew what I loved: Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo – heck, everyone from Bunsen Honeydew & Beaker to each member of The Electric Mayhem, house band of “The Muppet Show” (1976-1981). I already knew and loved these characters from the television show and seeing my felted best friends get in to bigger budgeted adventures (Frogs and Bears don’t drive studebakers on the cheap, you know) only sweetened the pot.
Was it the first movie I ever saw in a theater?* No. I was only 10 months old for the original release of the film. I likely saw it either on a film projector at the local community center, on VHS or on television. Once the technology made it possible, my parents recorded the movie – commercials and all – off of WLVI 56 (Channel 10 where I grew up). One day, the tape stopped working. I brought it to my mother. She explained to me that the tape had become rundown and asked me if I had any idea how that might have happened.
“I watched it a million times,” was my matter-of-fact answer.**
At five months old, my son is too young for me to bring him to see the Muppets eighth cinematic foray while it’s playing at theaters. (No matter what I might say to convince my wife otherwise.) But I’m confident he’ll fall in love with it in time. But it might not be his favorite childhood film. That honor may likely go to a movie that hasn’t even been dreamed up yet. And who knows? Maybe his love of that future film will end up being the theme of my grandchild’s nursery.
* – The honor for first movie I ever saw at the theater goes to “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” at the Colonial Theater in Laconia, NH when I was 4-years-old.
** – The only other movie I came close to watching as many times as “The Muppet Movie” was 1987’s “The Chipmunk Adventure”.
We polled the staff at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire to find out what their favorites were when they were kids. Do any of their picks match yours?(1939) – Doug & Caitlynne’s pick(1942) – Carol’s pick(1960) – Katie’s pick(1964) – Heidi’s pick(1965) – Sarah & Meredith’s pick(1967) – Heidi’s second pick(1972) – Katie’s second pick(1977) – Jane’s pick(1979) – Zach’s pick(1982) – Jenaya’s pick(1984) – Mark’s pick(1984) – Crystal’s pick(1985) – Riley’s pick(1985) – Crystal’s second pick(1986) – Meghan’s pick(1986) – Caitlynne’s second pick(1989) – Beth’s pick(1989) – Sam’s pick(1995) – Riley’s second pick(1999) – Annie’s pick
Some quick observations about the Staff Picks:
– Nine of the twenty films were based on children’s books or fables.
– The Walt Disney Company is responsible for six films on the list.
– Steven Spielberg is associated with three of the films. (Spielberg directed “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, contributed the story for, “The Goonies” and produced, “An American Tail”.)
– George Lucas is associated with two of the films. (Lucas wrote and directed “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” and wrote “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”)
– Jim Henson is associated with two of the films. (Henson produced and starred in “The Muppet Movie” and produced, co-directed and wrote the original story of “The Dark Crystal”)
– The most popular years for favorite childhood films of the CMNH staff were 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1989 – each year boasting two films.
What film did you watch a million times? What were some of the oft-watched family favorites growing up in your home? Brag about the movie that had the honor of being the favorite of your childhood in the comments section below!