MOVIE REVIEWS: The Great Muppet Caper (Jim Henson, 1981)

The Great Muppet Caper

The Muppet Movie was amazingly popular. It was the tenth highest grossing movie in 1979, making over $65 million, which would be nearly $217 million today. But the Muppets didn’t stop there. The Muppet Show continued another 2 years on television, Sesame Street was still going strong, they kept producing albums and television specials, and the Muppets continued making special appearances on talk shows. Two years later, it seemed as though the Muppets wanted to make another movie. This picture, directed by Muppets creator Jim Henson, is known as The Great Muppet Caper. I know I said that The Muppet Movie is the best Muppet movie, but this film is my favorite Muppet movie! Not only that, but this is also one of my favorite comedies ever! This film is hilarious! It’s mind blowingly (yes I just made that up) incredible how funny this is! Whereas the first movie had heart and even an artistic edge to accompany the comedy, this film focuses mostly on the comedy. That isn’t to say this film isn’t artistic either, but anyone who watches this will bet the filmmakers wanted to make all of the jokes they could in this film. Let’s get into it.

STORY: The story’s OK. Much like The Muppet Movie, this film has a simple plot. There’s more going on here, but it’s relatively simple. Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo, reporters for a newspaper, fly to England to cover a story surrounding the robbery of fashion designer Lady Holiday. Upon their investigation, they discover that the person behind these robberies is Holiday’s brother Nicky. I don’t think I’m ruining anything when I say that because the movie gives that away pretty early…Actually, that’s kind of my problem with the story. I understand it’s a caper and the story focuses on the heroes figuring out the mystery the audience already knows the answer to. But it takes a while for the heroes to figure out the mystery, and the story drags. Fortunately, the movie is filled with other great and entertaining things to keep the audience interested, but the story does drag and isn’t that captivating.
One of the interesting things about Muppet movies, beginning with this one, is they aren’t connected. They don’t follow a consistent story line; they don’t even really follow the lives of the Muppets. These movies have set a tone where literally anything can happen. If you’re expecting this to be a sequel to the last Muppet film, think again! Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo are reporters for a newspaper, as I said earlier, and they fly to England where they meet the other Muppets at the Happiness Hotel. Piggy meets Kermit in London, where she flew to model for Lady Holiday…What part of that reminds you of the plot of the first movie? The Muppets are meeting for the first time in this film, with the exception of Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo. If you find yourself thinking this is a sequel and demand to know how the Muppets continue to meet over and over again, you’ll be confused and aggravated. However, if you accept the fact the sky is the limit for their films, you’ll have a good time. Really, that’s what these films promise us anyway: a good time. The stories don’t have to be consistent; they focus more so on being entertaining and fun for the audience. That what this story is, and so it’s fine.
The Great Muppet Caper - Story

HUMAN CHARACTERS AND CAMEOS: There’s not a whole lot to say about the live action human stars in this film, so let’s just hurry up and dive in.
1) Lady Holiday – Lady Holiday is OK. She’s not the most interesting character. There’s not really that much to her character; she’s snoody and pompous because of her riches and title. That’s about it. She’s just not that exciting to be around. With that being said, though, I honestly do like her. I know that sounds odd, but let me explain. First of all, the human characters in a Muppet movie are never supposed to be more compelling or entertaining than the Muppets. We’re not here to see Lady Holiday – who the crud even is she? Bring on the frog! Second of all, there are some moments Lady Holiday stands out a little. She often throws out a very funny line. I laugh at her early in the film when she reviews the outfits for the fashion show. Why in the world did she pour ink on someone’s clothes?! I do like how snoody and pompous she can be. She’s never too mean to the point that you want something bad to happen to her. She’s quite reserved in her pompousness, but it’s played up enough so the audience can enjoy her. Actress Diana Rigg portrayed her well. I like her.
The Great Muppet Caper - Lady Holiday
2) Nicky – I actually find Nicky interesting. I love how unsubtle this guy is! Of course we learn within the first 5 minutes that he’s the villain, what with his attire and the music. But when you spend more time with him, you find yourself loving how over the top he is. I enjoy Charles Grodin’s portrayal of him! I love the way he said “And me” at the beginning. I love the way he speaks to his sister in the supper club – mainly when he says, “Thieves aren’t breathing down your neck!” I ADORE how he goes nuts over Miss Piggy! But my favorite part of his performance comes when he frames Piggy after her dream sequence! Listen to his response when Piggy figures out what he’s doing! It’s a riot! I can’t help but love this guy! I can’t really say this is a bad performance necessarily. In fact, you could argue that this is the way the character is supposed to be played. Like I said before, Muppet movies are very aware of themselves, and Nicky comes out and says, “I’m a villain” in the film. He eats up his villainy like candy! We enjoy it because he does!
The Great Muppet Caper - Nicky

There aren’t as many cameo guest stars in this film, but they serve more of a purpose here than they did in the last movie. Jack Warden, for example, is Mike Tarkenian, the editor of the newspaper Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo work for. Robert Morley is the British gentlemen by the pond; he’s the one who tells Kermit about the Happiness Hotel. John Cleese refers Piggy and Kermit to the supper club for dinner. Peter Ustinov drives the truck Piggy uses to help get her to the Mallory Gallery. Peter Falk…is just a man who strikes up conversation with Kermit; he’s pretty worthless to the plot. Although, I do like him trying to figure out the story behind the glass slipper Kermit’s holding. Also, Oscar the Grouch makes a quick cameo here! He has 2 lines with Ustinov after he’s thrown in a pile of trashcans. My favorite is either Falk or Oscar – their dialogue is hilarious!
The Great Muppet Caper - Cameo 1The Great Muppet Caper - Cameo 2

While you may or may not recognize those celebrity guest stars, have you ever noticed any of the other cameos in this film from the Muppet performers? Yes, some of the Muppet performers make quick appearances in the movie without a character on their hand. Richard Hunt can be seen driving Kathryn Mullen in a taxi during the opening number. Frank Oz makes an appearance somewhere behind Gonzo in the office of the Daily Chronicle. Jerry Nelson was the one walking with his daughter in the park when they passed Kermit holding Piggy’s slipper on the bench. And, of course, Jim Henson is in the supper club when Gonzo approaches him and asks to take his picture for $10.
The Great Muppet Caper - Cameo 3

SONGS/MUSIC: The songs in this movie are really good! They serve more of a purpose to the situations here than they did in The Muppet Movie. It’s important to mention that the writer and composer of the songs and score is the late and the great Joe Raposo (1937-1989). In addition to writing music for shows like Three’s Company and The Electric Company, Raposo may be most famous for his musical contributions to Sesame Street. In addition to writing the show’s theme song, he also wrote “ABC-DEF-GHI,” “Bein’ Green,” “C is for Cookie,” “Sing,” and many, many more. Oh, yeah! This guy wrote part of your childhood playlist! Let’s go over his songs for this film.
1) Hey A Movie!/(Reprise): I think Gonzo described this song best at the beginning of the film, “What a fantastic beginning!” This song lets us know we’re in for a good time. We can just focus on being entertained. We all know what kind of film we’re watching. The sole purpose here is to laugh and be entertained. I love it. I love this song!

2) Happiness Hotel: This song is hilarious! Who in their right crudded mind would ever agree to stay at a hotel so awful? The guests stay there like it’s their home? There’s no kitchen or food? The elevator doesn’t work? The building doesn’t even have the right address?! This is the worst place to lodge, and no one is hiding that fact. Yet their blunt honesty and friendly personalities somehow makes this the best place to stay. How in the world this becomes the worst and the best place to stay simultaneously, I don’t know. I love the irony in that, but I mainly love the humor that comes from the lyrics. The song itself is simply funny as crud. It’s a great number!

3) Steppin’ Out With a Star: There’s not a whole lot to say about this number. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s catchy. Is it wrong I think of this number as the Muppets’ equivalent to “Movin’ On Up to the East Side?” Maybe, but who cares? I could say more, but I don’t think I need to. This is just an enjoyable Muppet song, and those hardly ever fail. It certainly doesn’t fail here! This song is great!

4) Night Life: I have mixed feelings about this song. It’s not very memorable. This is one of the last songs I think about whenever I name Muppet movie songs. To be fair, though, I don’t think it’s supposed to be that memorable. The song doesn’t draw as much focus and attention as the other songs in this film. In this scene, we’re mainly focused on watching the Muppets get to the supper club. Despite all that, however, this is still a fun song. This is exactly the type of song the Electric Mayhem would perform. The music rocks hard, and Dr. Teeth’s vocals are rough. It’s a nice song, but it’s not the best Muppet movie song.

5) The First Time it Happens: This is such a lovely number. Every element of the song makes it great: the lyrics, the music, the main and background vocalists, the tempo, the progression – everything about the song is delightful. It’s very regal and romantic. I like that; and give this song credit for being nominated for an Oscar. There’s not much else to say except if you haven’t heard this song yet, look it up. The first time it happens, you won’t be disappointed.

(This is the best version I could get.)
6) Couldn’t We Ride: This song is so beautiful to me. If “Movin’ Right Along” is the song we sing when we go on long drives, this is the song we all need to sing when we ride our bikes. It’s just a lovely, peaceful song. It’s like the song you want to sing when you want to forget about your worries for a moment. I love this song in the movie, and I love it just as much as a stand alone song. Raposo really outdid himself!

7) Piggy’s Fantasy: This song, and the scene it’s shown in, teaches us how to fantasize! It’s over the top! It’s big! It’s gorgeous! It’s fancy! Really, it’s played up as one big joke. Even so, the song still sounds amazing! If you took Miss Piggy, the context, and the lyrics away, you would think this music was taken from a ballet or an opera. Based on how these songs sound alone, I’m surprised only one of these songs was nominated for an Oscar. Regardless, this song is just great!

(This is the best version I could get.)

PUPPETRY: It is amazing to me what lengths Jim Henson and his team will go to in order to make these characters real. The puppetry in this film rivals that from The Muppet Movie! There are amazing feats of puppetry performed throughout the entire film, but let me share the two moments that stand out to me the most: (1) The Muppets climbing up the side of the Mallory Gallery. I’m surprised I’ve never heard people talk about this scene. I accepted it as a kid because I knew these characters were real. Now as a young adult, I keep asking myself how this happened whenever I see this scene. Were the characters radio controlled? Were they marionettes? How in the world was this stunt accomplished? Whether I get to figure it out or not, I love that moment! (2) The bicycle scene. Like everyone else, I am blown away by the bicycle scene! It’s so amazing! It’s so incredible! How in the world did the filmmakers think of this? How in the world did they pull it off? Rather than just having the Muppets ride bikes like they had Kermit do in the first movie, now we have Kermit and Piggy riding in circles around each other and Kermit standing up on his bike to perform stunts. That is incredible! This is the type of genius creativity that makes us love the Muppets so much!
The Great Muppet Caper - PuppetryThe Great Muppet Caper 01

COMEDY: I can easily declare the comedy the best element of this film! These jokes are not only funny, but they’re creative and smart! Watching this film as a teenager, I realized the difference between comedy directed to children and adult comedy. Kids don’t often understand everything that’s being said, so most of what they laugh at in family films come from what they see. Youth and adults, however, can understand a lot more, thus they laugh at both what they see and hear. There’s no way I can talk about the comedy in this film without giving some of the jokes away. I’ll only talk about a few of them, but they are hilarious and I am in love with them!
Kermit and Fozzie are twins. That’s right! In this film, Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear are twins – not just twins, but identical twins! The best way to see the resemblance is when they both wear hats! This joke is so strange and surreal, you can’t help but laugh! It is a creative and hilarious joke! I don’t know how the filmmakers thought of this or made it up, but it works so well!
Lady Holiday’s rant about Nicky. After Piggy gets hired as a receptionist (which is a totally different joke), Lady Holiday delivers an unwarranted monologue about her brother Nicky. After she’s done, Piggy asks her, “Why are you telling me all this?” Lady Holiday replies, “It’s plot exposition, it must go somewhere. Anyway…” I LOVE IT!!! Not only is that a fantastic and subtle fourth wall joke, but it’s also a great punch line for a speech that had nothing to do with anything! I wish all dialogue in movies that were unrelated to the plot ended in some hilarious joke.
Sam’s proud heritage. After Piggy get arrested, the rest of the Muppets gather together in the Happiness Hotel to discuss what to do. Fozzie makes a patriotic speech about how they all need to help bring Piggy justice. After everyone begins agreeing with him, Sam the Eagle (who wasn’t already in the room) leans in and says “It’s times like this I am proud to be an American.” On the surface, the joke is funny because Sam came in out of nowhere and because the moment was very patriotic. However, I thought of another reason why this joke really works. The Muppets are currently in England! Who the crud cares you’re proud to be an American? I find humor in the irony of that!
These are just a few of the tons of hilarious jokes that are found throughout this film! The movie is full of joke after joke – they’re all on top of each other. It’s clear that the focus of the movie was on the entertainment and humor, and it did not disappoint at all!
The Great Muppet Caper - ComedyThe Great Muppet Caper - Comedy 01The Great Muppet Caper - Comedy 02

CONCLUSION: I love this movie! The story lags a bit, but the movie more than makes up for that with all the other elements! The live-action human characters are likeable and entertaining. The songs are wonderful! The puppetry is outstanding! The jokes are hilarious! It’d be wrong of me to say this is the best Muppet film – again, I think that title belongs to The Muppet Movie. However, this is not only a strong Muppet film, but it’s also my favorite! The comedy alone is worth watching the film, but it has wonderful characters and songs to support it as well! I look forward to watching it more and more in the future!
The Great Muppet Caper - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Muppet Movie (James Frawley, 1979)

The Muppet Movie 00

YEAH, BABY!!! After reviewing some of the Disney animated films, I wanted to take a look at the films from my most favorite franchise ever: the Muppets! There’s no way I’m letting these films go untouched! I said it before, and I’ll say it again: people always associate the Walt Disney Company with magic and dreams come true. After finally giving the company a chance, I can see where people are coming from. However, it was Jim Henson’s Muppets that made me believe in all of that. A large part of the reason for that comes from this film, The Muppet Movie! When you watch the imagination and creativity that was put forth in this film, you can’t help but believe in dreams or magic all over again either!
Here’s some quick background regarding the Muppets: Henson and his company had already made a name for themselves on television. After the success of the very first Muppet production, Sam and Friends (Jim Henson, 1955-1961), the Muppets went on to guest star on late night talk shows, they produced a number of commercials, they had a hit with Sesame Street (Joan Ganz Cooney, 1969-Present), they starred in their own television specials, and they were featured in the first season of Saturday Night Live (Lorne Michaels, 1975-Present). In 1976, Henson’s real dream had finally come true: he wanted his Muppets to star on their own show. It was The Muppet Show (Jim Henson, 1976-1981), and it became the Number One show in the entire world! However, Henson found a new playground for his characters: the movies! Enter The Muppet Movie in 1979!
Since this is my first Muppet movie review, here are the categories I’ll be judging these films by: story and themes & messages, human characters and cameo stars, songs, puppetry, and comedy. Anyway, let’s shut up and get to the review!

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story contains one of the simplest plots I’ve ever seen in a movie: the Muppets are going to Hollywood…Yeah, that’s it. Literally, that is our main story. Yeah, there are other things that happen, but the main focus is on the Muppets trying to get to Hollywood. That is so unbelievably, yet refreshingly simple. I’m glad the filmmakers knew not only to keep the focus here, but also knew better than to pad the film with a lot of other unnecessary subplots. There is one subplot involving a man named Doc Hopper chasing Kermit in order to get him to become the spokesperson for an aspiring restaurant chain, Doc Hopper’s Frog Legs…This does beg a few questions: (1) You’re opening a restaurant chain, and your main dish is frog legs? (2) You spend so much time hunting down one frog. Why not ask another frog to be the spokesperson for your restaurant? (3) You pull guns on Kermit, you hire a mad scientist to brain wash him, you gather a band of men (including a professional frog killer) to take him down…Are you sure you want to go in the restaurant business?! This doesn’t sound like the profession you should be pursuing. Heck, we don’t even see you cook anything!
One thing I keep thinking about whenever I watch this film is that half the things that take place contribute nothing to the story. I find that fascinating. The montage of the Electric Mayhem painting the car, the whole sequence of the Muppets trading Fozzie’s Studebaker, the Muppets staying at the fair for 6-7 minutes, Gonzo’s ride on the balloons, Kermit and Piggy’s trip to the restaurant – what did any of that have to do with their getting to Hollywood? How did Gonzo’s balloon ride help the gang get to Hollywood any sooner? I know there are arguments for some of the other things I mentioned: “The Electric Mayhem painted the car to help Kermit and Fozzie hide from Doc Hopper.” But if they were spotted immediately after that scene by Max and Doc Hopper, what was the point of it? Really, a great number of these sequences have nothing to do with the plot. Does that make it bad? No, not at all! Despite the fact that they don’t move the story along, they do work for the film! I can’t explain it, but there’s something about all of these sequences that just work really well for the movie. There’s a charm and likeability to them. They fit the tone of the film! I love it!
I really appreciate the satire in this film! There are a lot of unsubtle moments that take place, but it’s never accidental! The ad in the paper at the beginning of the film says, “World Wide Studios announces open auditions for frogs wishing to become rich and famous.” At the end of the film, Kermit and the gang walk in Lew Lord’s office, and Lord just gives them the Rich and Famous contract! Of course none of these things would happen in real life! However, part of the fun of the film is over the top satire. I love it! It works really well!
There are a few messages in this film when you stop and think about it. Be happy with your life. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back from your destiny. Embrace diversity. The actions and behaviors from your youth were practice for what you’d do with your life. These are some great messages for both kids and adults! There are two other lessons that stand out the strongest for me, though. One is to base your dreams on selfless ambitions. I know that throughout the movie Kermit said he wanted to become “rich and famous,” but really think about it. That’s not what initially struck his attention when he spoke with Bernie the Agent. He was more focused on “making millions of people happy.” Hopper wasn’t concerned about that at all. We know this because he was willing to chase a frog across the country and kill him unless he agreed to be a spokesperson. And what happened to him in the end? He was nearly devoured by a verbally-challenged, mad drummer. But it goes even deeper than “making millions of people happy.” Kermit wanted to make it to Hollywood because he made a promise to himself. “I guess I was wrong when I said I never promised anyone,” he said. “I promised me.” It’s not so much a selfish ambition, but he is looking for something that will satisfy him. Performing is what he was created to do, and he won’t be happy unless he does it on the highest level he’s able to do it. Of course he wants to make people happy, and of course he wants the other Muppets to live out their dreams. However, he’ll feel empty and lost if he doesn’t get to live out his dream – his purpose. That’s something that we can all relate to! Live out your dream to the fullest! It’s such a simple message on paper, but it carries so much weight to it in the large scope of things. This is one of the best conveyances of that moral I’ve ever seen! I love that moment where Kermit talks to himself. It is so heartfelt and impactful. It may be one of my favorite scenes in all cinema!
The Muppet Movie - Story

HUMAN CHARACTERS AND CAMEO STARS: It would be pointless to talk about the Muppet characters! What could I say about them?! We already know and love these guys; they’ve appeared in a countless number of productions we’ve all seen them in! What I will do, however, is talk about the live-action human stars and the cameo stars in this film.
1) Doc Hopper – Doc Hopper is played by Charles Durning. I already talked about Doc a little earlier. I am amazed at this guy’s persistence! It takes some real dedication to track somebody down and follow them half way across the country just for promotion! Wow! To be fair, I agree with Kermit. Hopper’s not a bad person. He’s not evil or malicious or anything. He’s just confused. He doesn’t know what it truly means to be happy. You can’t be happy by making other people miserable. I do have fun watching him and seeing how he will be foiled again. He’s an enjoyable antagonist.
The Muppet Movie - Doc Hopper
2) Max – Max is played by Austin Pendleton. This guy is a funny character! I don’t know how many people look back on this movie and come to that conclusion, but it’s true! Max is really funny! The reason we don’t often think of this is because Max isn’t over the top. He doesn’t go out of his way to get his humor across. His humor comes from the things he says. As kids, we often missed them or didn’t quite understand what he was always saying. As an adult, I quite impressed with how funny he’s been all along. And poor Max! All he wants, really, is to get the job done right and make sure that everyone’s safe and living. He’s a sweetheart.
The Muppet Movie - Max

This film introduced the great Muppet movie tradition of having a number of celebrity guest stars appear as cameos! I love the stars we get in this film! You have to watch out for these celebrities; if you blink, you’ll miss them. They all clearly love interacting with the Muppets, and they enjoy every second of screen time! All the stars don’t necessarily serve a purpose to the plot, but it’s great seeing them with the Muppets! Some of them have purpose, though. Dom Deluise is the agent who convinces Kermit to leave the swamp. Mel Brooks is the mad scientist who tries to fry Kermit’s brain. The great Orson Wells is Lew Lord, the man who gives the Muppet their Rich and Famous contract. Another famous cameo in this film is Steve Martin as the sarcastic and rude waiter – he gets a lot of laughs! We’ve also got Edgar Bergen and Charlie, Madeline Kahn, Richard Pryor, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, James Coburn, Paul Williams, Elliot Gould, Carol Kane, Telly Savalas, and Cloris Leachman. My personal favorite, however, is Big Bird! I LOVE his line in this film! “I’m on my way to New York City to try and break into public television!” That is so awesome!
The Muppet Movie - Big Bird 00The Muppet Movie - Big Bird

SONGS/MUSIC: This film has the best songs to ever come out of a Muppet movie…EVER!!! All of these songs are memorable and tons of fun! The songs and score were written and composed by Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams. These two clearly knew how to make some fun-tastic songs. I can’t speak for Ascher much, but Williams, who, again, had a cameo in the film, knew how to make a wonderful Muppet soundtrack. He wrote songs for a number of Muppet projects, including another movie (which we’ll get to later). The songs and soundtrack were nominated for a Golden Globe, an Oscar, and won a Grammy! Again, though, these songs don’t really serve the plot much, but it’s OK. They work for this film. Let’s go through them.
1) Rainbow Connection: What can I say that hasn’t been said about this song before? This is as perfect as you can get with a Muppet song. I tie this number with “Bein’ Green” as the greatest Muppet songs of all time. In this number, we hear Kermit singing about something grandeur than life, something more than he’s able to comprehend. It’s sooth melody and beautiful lyrics always puts a smile on my face whenever I hear this song. It’s truly a song for the lovers, the dreamers, for me!

2) Movin’ Right Along: What song is more fitting to sing on a road trip? Hasn’t this song become the ultimate stamp in road trip adventures? The song is just so positive and upbeat, we can’t help but get invested in it. I love the jokes the lyrics contain:
“Hey, I’ve never seen the sun come up in the west?”
“We’re stormin’ the big town.” “Yeah, storm is right. Should it be snowing?” “Uh, no, I don’t think so.”
“Though, sadly, we just left Rhode Island.” “We did what?!” “Just forget it.”
And, of course, where else will you get a literal example of turning left at the fork in the road?!? Genius!

3) Can You Picture That?: My WORD, what a great song! This has got to be the best song the Electric Mayhem has ever performed! But aside from the rocking music and great vocal talent, what does this song have to give us? Well, this is basically the perseverance song. “You can do anything you set your mind to,” the song is basically saying. “There’s nothing you can’t do.” If you were able to pick that up the first time you heard the song, kudos to you. However, one problem I have with the song is that it’s very wordy. The words go by so quickly, I often have a hard time understanding what’s being said. It’s not bad, though. You are able to make out what they’re saying, but it’ll take your concentration. You can’t just sit down, give part of your focus to the song, and expect to know what the song is about. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s rocking, it’s the Electric Mayhem doing what they do best!

4) Never Before, Never Again: This is one of the most…interesting Muppet songs, to say the least. Piggy picks out Kermit in a crowd of people, immediately falls in love, and begins singing. I know I’ve gone on in the past about the short romance cliché, but, like I said earlier, this movie is very aware of itself. Because of that, the song is really funny! Piggy sings about how the rest of her life is going to be spent with someone she just saw out of a crowd. She doesn’t even know what his voice sounds like, let alone his name, and she has a romance montage about their love life! That is hilarious! To be honest, I never stopped to figure out whether or not this song is actually beautiful. The music sounds beautiful. I never really paid attention to the lyrics because of the montage. The song itself may be a sweet love song. However, let’s be honest. What the song is supposed to be is one big joke. The joke is Piggy immediately fell in love with Kermit, who was standing in a large crowd of people, and sang a song about it. It works great here!

5) I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along: By this point, the film has introduced one of my favorite pianists in the world! This song is basically the equivalent of two friends drinking in a bar and discussing their problems. The only difference here is these two aren’t drunk and there’s a piano. What I find interesting about this number is that Jim Henson performs both Kermit and Rowlf. While, of course, he’s not physically operating both of them at the same time, he does provide both of their voices. I could be reading too much into this, but I almost see that as someone struggling with him or herself to figure out what to do about a hard situation in their life. They keep wrestling with themselves, “I know this is bad for me, but there’s something about it that I’m drawn to.” I find that fascinating.

6) I’m Going to Go Back There Someday: This was one of Jim Henson’s favorite songs, and I love this piece too. It is so beautiful and so heartfelt. I think people forget the Muppets do this, and have done this, more than often. Yes they are silly and goofy, but they are also passionate and emotional. They are very artistic and smart, and you hear it in this song. If you give it some thought, this could be Gonzo’s “Rainbow Connection” song, or his “Over the Rainbow” piece. He’s singing about returning to the place he feels the freest. There’s something about the sky that is so majestic, so welcoming, so rich, and so liberating. That actually fits the idea of what Kermit was singing about earlier in “Rainbow Connection” too, doesn’t it? They both want to go where they belong. The difference, however, is Kermit is looking for that place of belonging – that connection, and Gonzo has found his in the sky. That’s actually pretty deep when you think about it.

7) Finale: The Magic Store: There’s not a lot to say about this number. It’s wonderful to see the Muppets’ dream come true. It’s great to see everything come full circle. It’s wonderful to hear those last lines Kermit sings. The best way I can describe this piece is it’s like a dream. It sounds like a dream, but it’s happening right in front of you. Thus it becomes a dream come true. What a perfect way to end such a beautiful movie!

(This was the only really good and full version of this song I could get.)

PUPPETRY: The puppetry in this film is spectacular! It blew people away the first time they saw it! We don’t even see the rods that control the puppets’ arms! It sucked us into the illusion – we believed these characters were real! It was a critical point in this movie to show Kermit, Fozzie and the rest of the gang from head to toe throughout the film. We see Kermit and Fozzie dancing in the café. We saw them stand and turn their heads in the church. We see the characters stand, sit, and play instruments in the desert. These characters come to life like never before! There are a few moments when the puppetry really stand out to me. (1) The Big Crowd Muppet Scenes. Pay attention to the screen anytime you see a large crowd of Muppets. There’s nothing too groundbreaking or technically impressive about it. What amazes me is thinking what must be going on behind the scenes – or, rather, under the scenes. Pay attention when all of the characters are at the private screening, or watching ALL of Jim Henson’s Muppets in the musical finale. How many puppeteers did they need for that?! In fact, famous producers/directors Tim Burton and John Landis were operating some of the Muppets for the last scene. Landis said he was controlling Grover from Sesame Street. (2) Kermit playing the banjo. Kermit sitting on a log in a real swamp is already impressive, but did you see Kermit playing the banjo? His right hand really moves on the fret. His left hand really strums the strings. That is incredible! (3) The Muppets driving. It’s one thing to see Kermit the Frog sitting up on a log in the swamp, but to see Fozzie Bear drive a car is incredible! The way the filmmakers accomplished this was by controlling the car with a remote. The people controlling the car are in the trunk watching a monitor, while the Muppet performers and the puppets are in the seats of the Studebaker. That’s quite amazing. And the best piece of puppetry in this film is: (4) Kermit rides a bicycle. This is one of the most amazing feats the Muppets have ever accomplished! To see a full puppet ride a bike with no strings attached and with no performer underneath was unthinkable! That only compliments the sort of excellence and creativity this movie possesses!
The Muppet Movie - Puppetry

COMEDY: Comedy is one of the most important elements in any Muppet production. The comedy in this film is really smart! The filmmakers aren’t just throwing random things in front of the screen, calling it comedy, and patronizing the audience’s intelligence. There was actual thought put behind these jokes. It’s obvious that the jokes were funny to the people working on the film, which is why they are funny to us as well. The characters will of course say funny things and do funny things, but there are 3 main forms of humor you’ll get in most Muppet production: irony, puns, and fourth wall jokes. Here’s an example of each of them in this movie.
Irony: MAD MAN MOONEY: But seriously, friends, Mad Man Mooney doesn’t believe in all that dealing and wheeling. No, the price that’s on the sticker is the price you pay, and never more and never less! (Sweetums swats a fly on a price sticker of a car) KERMIT: We’ll take that one for $11.95.
Puns: SECURITY GUARD: Private screening, Room B. STATLER: Private screening? WALDORF: Yeah, they’re afraid to show it in public.
Fourth Wall: FOZZIE: Kermit was living in a swamp, and then a fisherman came along… KERMIT: Fozzie, you can’t tell them the whole story. You’ll bore the audience. FOZZIE: Oh, sorry…But, uh, Kermit, the band here wants to know. KERMIT: Well, let them read the screenplay.
These jokes are genius! I love them! They’re smart, they’re creative, and they’re a huge part of the Muppets’ identity! The only joke I don’t get involves Carol Kane’s cameo. Whenever Kermit said “Myth! Myth,” Kane would come out of nowhere and ask, “Yes?” It’s funny because of the randomness and surreal factor, but what the crud does that mean? All these years, and I still don’t get it!
The Muppet Movie - Comedy

CONCLUSION: I love this movie! This is easily the best Muppet movie ever! This film goes far beyond being just a cute children’s movie. There’s an artistic edge to this film. There’s intelligence here. This film is timeless. It is unbelievably creative. Every aspect about the film is likeable and inspiring. It inspires us to dream. It inspires us to bring that same happiness and joy to other people. It inspires us to be bold and daring in our gifts and talents. It’s incredible how much this film still holds up. A lot of people can look at this film and may think, “It’s just another Muppet film. It’s cute. It’s funny. It’s friendly.” I, on the other hand look at this film and say, this is one of the best family movies (not kid movies – family movies) I have ever seen! It entertains both children and adults. It takes both of them seriously. It speaks to both of them on the same level. The more I look into this film, the more I determine how deep it actually is. Whether you agree with me on this or not, one thing that a lot of people agree on is that this is the best Muppet movie ever! The other films are great, but this is the best one of them all! I smile every time I watch it! God bless you, you wonderful and beautiful movie!
The Muppet Movie 01The Muppet Movie - Conclusion

Benjamin Isaiah Black’s “FINALE: Curtain Call”

***This was performed live on April 22, 2015***

This was the last show I performed before I graduated. It’s me doing what I do best, doing what I love to do. It’s poetry, it’s mime, it’s film, it’s theatre, it’s music, it’s entertainment, it’s inspiring, it’s encouraging, it’s uplifting, it’s art, it’s godly. I hope you enjoy it! God bless you, and I love you!

(c) April 2015, B.I.B. Productions

You Are the Music to My Soul

***This was written on May 31, 2015***

You are the music to my soul.
There is no doubt about that.
I feel your melody playing.
I am your harmony saying
Continue your sweet sound.
Let me be your instrument.
Use me as your muse, your inspiration.
I breathe your creation,
Your art from your heart.
You start the beat that sets the foundation to my life.
You add the rhythm that gives me the energy to move.
A day doesn’t pass without me hearing you.
Don’t change one note from your composition.
I feed on it.
I yearn for it.
I learn from it
How to live.
You give
Music for my soul.
You keep me from being alone.
I need your tune to keep me alive.
May it never change,
Never be rearranged.
It is my life.
You are my life.
You are the music to my soul.

(c) May 2015, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Journal Entry: Graduation

***This was written on May 23, 2015***

Dear Journal,
How’s it going? How have you been? I know this is two weeks too late, but I’ve graduated! As of Saturday, May 9, 2015, I’ve become a graduate of Ashland University! I’ve earned my Bachelors of Arts degree in General Theatre! It is fantastic! I am a college graduate! This is what I worked for the past 5 years toward! This is one of the major milestones of life I’ve been looking forward to!…And I’m going to miss Ashland so much. I miss it now. Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve had a number of dreams about Ashland. That’s been my home for the past 5 years, and now I’m done. I won’t be returning again in August. I can’t believe it. I had to say good-bye to the people, the city, the campus, the buildings, and my room…OK, so I’m a sentimental. But, can you blame me? I’ve spent almost a fifth of my life at Ashland! Whether time was spent in the theatres, the radio station, at a BSU/DOC event, in the classroom, in my room, or wherever, I loved my time at Ashland!
In fact, what all have I done at Ashland? Hmm…Let’s see if I can remember:
Freshman Year: Move onto campus (08/20/2010)
University Choir (08/2010 – 05/2011)
Scene Shop scholarship hours (08/2010 – 04/2011)
Member of BSU (Black Student Union) (09/2011)
Lip Sync Contest (09/2010)
The Bro. B.I.B. Show (09/2010 – 04/2011)
• Creator/Actor/Writer/Producer/Director/Recording Engineer/Editor/Sound Designer
Of Mice and Men, “Crooks” (10/15/2010 – 10/24/2010)
• Irene Ryan Award nomination
Adjusting Focus, “Chris” (11/2010 – 04/2011)
KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival) (01/2011)
Recital Crew employee (01/2011 – 04/2011)
Surround Sound (01/2011 – 05/2011)
Evening of Celebration 2011 (02/23/2011)
• Actor
BLACK: a one-man show (03/23/2011)
• First original stage play
• Solo show
• Actor/Writer/Producer/Director
Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Running Crew (04/08/2011 – 04/17/2011)
Inducted in APO (Alpha Psi Omega) (04/2011)
Leadership and Recognition Awards: Emerging Leader nomination (04/2011)
WRDL Award: Outstanding Newcomer (04/2011)
University Choir Tour (05/2011)
Sophomore Year: Pathways Leader (08/2011)
88.9 WRDL, Operations’ Director (08/2011 – 03/2012)
BSU, Secretary (08/2011 – 04/2012)
APO, Member (08/2011 – 05/2012)
University Choir (08/2011 – 05/2012)
Scene Shop scholarship hours & employee (08/2011 – 04/2012)
The Bro. B.I.B. Show (09/2011 – 03/2012)
Whistle Down the Wind, “Vicar” (10/28/2011 – 11/05/2011)
Meet Michael Kaeshammar (11/11/2011)
Meet & Interview Take 6 (12/07/2011)
KCACTF (01/2012)
• Irene Ryan Award partner
NIMH’s Last Comedian Standing (01/30/2012)
Evening of Celebration (02/29/2012)
• Actor/Writer/Producer/Director, Black Out
Mr. University (03/07/2012)
• Won
One-Act Experience/Experiment 2012, Running Crew (04/18/2012 – 04/21/2012)
Junior Year: Pathways Leader (08/2012)
BSU, President (08/2012 – 04/2013)
88.9 WRDL, Production Director (08/2012 – 05/2013)
APO, Member (08/2012 – 05/2013)
Scene Shop scholarship hours & employee (08/2012 – 04/2013)
Bus Stop, Sound Designer & Sound Board Operator (09/27/2013 – 10/06/2012)
Retirement Video for Ric Goodwin (01/2013 – 04/2013)
WRDL BHM 2013 (WRDL Black History Month 2013) (02/01/2013 – 02/28/2013)
• Writer/Recording Engineer/Voice Talent/Editor/Producer
Little Shop of Horrors, “Audrey II, Manipulator”/“Wino I” (02/22/2013 – 03/02/2013)
Evening of Celebration 2013 (02/27/2013)
• Writer/Producer/Co-director, Our Journey
My Me: Stage Play (03/06/2013)
• Fourth original stage play
• Second solo show
• Actor/Writer/Producer/Director/Music Arranger
A Life in the Theatre, Sound Designer & Sound Board Operator (04/10/2013 –
Theatre Award: Outstanding Performance Award, Little Shop of Horrors (05/2013)
Senior Year I: Theatre Senior Project (05/2013 – 04/30/2014)
• Playwright, The Response
Pathways Leader (08/2013)
APO, Liason (08/2013 – 05/2014)
Production Director (08/2013 – 05/2014)
Member, DOC (Diversity On Campus) (08/2013 – 04/2014)
• Formerly known as Black Student Union
March: 50 (08/28/2013)
• Celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington
• Creator/Organizer/Student Leader
The Servant of Two Masters, “Florindo Silvio” (11/01/2013 – 11/09/2013)
KCACTF (01/2014)
• Student Directing Institute, A Raisin in the Sun
WRDL BHM 2014, (02/01/2014 – 02/28/2014)
Evening of Celebration 2014 (02/19/2014)
• Actor/Writer/Producer/Director, Thank You
• Plaque of gratitude
One-Acts & New Works 2014 (04/02/2014 – 04/06/2014)
• Tennessee Williams’ Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry, Director
• Jay Kunzi’s That’s What I’m Dreamin’, “Booty Magnet”
• Benjamin Isaiah Black’s The Response, Writer
Leadership and Recognition Awards: Diversity Enhancement Award (04/13/2014)
WRDL Award: Outstanding Senior Award (04/2014)
Theatre Award: Green Room Award (05/2014)
Theatre Award: Outstanding Performance Award, The Response (05/2014)
Senior Year II: Pathways Leader (08/2014)
88.9 WRDL, Production Director (08/2014 – 05/2015)
APO, Member (08/2014 – 12/2014)
Saint Joan, “Robert de Beaudricourt”/“Gilles de Rais (Bluebeard)”/“Bishop Peter
Cauchon” (10/03/2014 – 10/11/2014)
• Irene Ryan Award nomination
Homecoming King (10/11/2014)
In the Event of My Death, Assistant Sound Designer (10/30/2014 – 11/08/2014)
Black Magic (11/15/2014)
KCACTF (01/2015)
APO, Secretary (01/05/2015 – 05/02/2015)
Meet Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian (01/19/2015)
WRDL BHM 2015 (02/01/2015 – 02/28/2015)
The Wizard of Oz, Assistant Sound Designer (02/13/2015 – 02/21/2015)
Evening of Celebration 2015 (02/25/2015)
• Actor/Writer/Producer/Director, Motown: a Concert Experience
• Certificate of gratitude & Eagle Head
The House of Blue Leaves, “Billy Einhorn” (04/09/2015 – 04/17/2015)
Leadership and Recognition Awards: Diversity Enhancement (04/19/2015)
FINALE: Curtain Call (04/22/2015)
• Eighth original stage play
• Third & final solo show
• Actor/Writer/Producer/Director/Music Arranger/Editor
Theatre Award: Performance Award, Saint Joan (05/02/2015)
Theatre Award: Inaugural Brother BIB Award (05/02/2015)
• Award named after me
• First presentation of this award
Spring Commencement (05/09/2015)
Wow. I mean, wow! It’s been an unbelievably fantastic ride! I remember the day I moved on the campus almost five years ago. As a young freshman, I could not have imagined doing everything I did – or, at least, I wouldn’t have been able to predict doing it all! I’ve produced eight original productions (including my radio show), I’ve written eight original stage productions (including The Response), I’ve performed in a total of fourteen shows at Ashland, I’ve gained a number of awards and honors, I was in a web series, I produced a couple of films, my voice was heard on the radio a countless number of times, I met Take 6, I shook hands with Dr. C.T. Vivian, I created and led an event that celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – and it has been phenomenal! Between everyone I met, everything I learned, everywhere I went, and the great and many things I did, I’ve enjoyed my time at Ashland so much!
I often wondered how I’d survive the “real world” after graduation. I was afraid because I didn’t know what was going to come next. While I still don’t know, and I’m still applying to places all over, I’m at peace now. I’m comforted. I realized that this was the same way I felt that very first morning, the day I left for Ashland, nearly five years ago. And look at everything God allowed me to do. If He allowed me to soar at Ashland, I know I have nothing to worry about, so long as I put Him first. With that being said, I look forward to applying the lessons I’ve learned at Ashland and moving on to bigger and better things. My Jesus is SO good! Thank You, Jesus! Praise You, God! HALLELUJAH! BOOYIKA!


Benjamin Isaiah Black

(c) May 2015, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

I’m About to Graduate

***This was written on January 8, 2015***
***This was filmed and shown at Benjamin Isaiah Black’s FINALE: Curtain Call***

I’m about to graduate.
Ain’t it great?
May 9, I’ll wake up no later than 8:00,
I’ll get up and prepare myself to cross the stage.
After 5 long years, it’s finally come to this.
Funny how I knew this day would come, my time at Ashland’s about done.
Yet I can’t believe I’m about to say good-bye to these days of fun –
The events and the atmosphere,
The buildings and the cheer,
The people I’ve met who I love dear,
I love them so.
In a short while, I’ll be saying good-bye to it all,
To this place that’s been a home for 5 years.
I’m about to graduate.
Ain’t it great?
Then why can’t I celebrate
What awaits me?

You don’t know?

Know what?

Know the reasons for your doubts,
What your nervousness and confusion are about.
You know. You know you do.

I don’t know what you’re talking about. I haven’t got a clue.

Sure you do.
How prepared are you for what’s out there?
You think you’re ready for the real world?
You’ve got no place of your own, no car, no job – you’re broke.
You’re going back home with Mom and Dad? That’s a joke.

What’s wrong with that?

You plan on living there forever?


When are you going to get it together?

Would you go?

You’re never going to be successful, never –


If you don’t start putting work in.

What do you want? Why are you here?
Would you clear the crud out and stop drawing near my ear?

I want you to hear your inner thoughts and realize your true fears.
That’s why you’re nervous. That’s why you’re not at ease.
Say what you’re feeling. You don’t have to hold it in like a lion that’s been tamed.
Just say what’s on your mind.

Fine! I’m afraid!
I’m afraid! I admit it, I’m scare!
I don’t know what the crud to expect out there.
How do I know I’ll be successful?
How do I know I’ll be great?
I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years – I know nothing about my fate!
What if I’m not talented enough to make it far?
I have no money, not even for clothes or my own car!
I spend time watching YouTube video, letting out laughs,
When that time could have been used perfecting my crafts.
What if opportunity after opportunity slams doors in my face
And I’m left in some dark, neglected, forgotten place?
That’s not me. That’s not who I want to be.
I never imagined that kind of life for myself.
I’d rather stay here in familiar territory.

Now, you know that’s not your story.
You’ll already be paying 5 years worth of student loans.
You want to pay more?

What if I died here? They can’t get me if I’m dead.

They’d come after your family, bruh.


Are you really going to allow fear to paralyze you from experiencing all that God has for you?
Don’t sacrifice what He created you to do.

How do I know this dream of mine is true?

I thought you knew.
You know God made you with a purpose in mind.
He’s got great plans for you so divine.
Don’t let fear bind you, don’t be blind to the truth.
God has been watching you the whole time.
Your life is proof of that – you wouldn’t be here if He wasn’t on your side.
He is in front you, next to you, and behind,
Covering you from all around.
He’s even with you right now.

How am I supposed to believe that?
Look at where I am, who I am, what I am.
Does this look like someone who’s gonna be a great man?

Can you lend yourself to God’s plan?
Have faith in Him?
Trust that He knows what He’s doing even when you don’t?
Don’t think that He’ll let you down now, ‘cuz He won’t;
Not after everything else He’s brought you through.
Don’t act like you’re hearing something new.
Five years ago you said a prayer,
And Jesus heard and answered it because He loves you and He cares.
During those years, He’s seen you through great ups and downs,
Each trial and tribulation –
It was Him who made a way out for you in your situations.
Now if Jesus, THAT God who lives in you
And brought you through everything you’ve been through –
If He provided you strength to endure back then,
What makes you think He wouldn’t do it again?
He’s always there for you, especially when it’s hard.
Just believe that He is who He says,
That He’ll do what He says He’ll do.
God’s not a man that would lie.
You know this is true. Now apply.

I’m about to graduate.
Ain’t is great?
And now…I can’t wait!
I anticipate to see what God has ahead.
I gravitate to His Will.
There’s nothing to debate.
Father, please help me eliminate my fears and doubts,
Not to hesitate to follow You.
Your power and might are great, so who am I to underestimate You as You go to elevate me?
That fascinates me.
I will follow you down the narrow and straight,
Working hard with all my strength
Remembering You’re not through with me yet, You did not eliminate me.
You don’t hate me.
You strengthen me.
Educate me in You.
You have a great future that awaits me,
And so I thank Thee.
There’s much to celebrate.
A word I must emancipate.
Have you heard? Ain’t it great?
I’m about to graduate!

(c) January 2015, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Too Bad, So Sad

***This was written on January 4, 2015***
***This was performed in Benjamin Isaiah Black’s FINALE: Curtain Call***

I hear tale you don’t like me.
Too bad, so sad.
You don’t approve of my name, Bro. B.I.B.
Too bad, so sad.
So you don’t like my clothes or my style?
Too bad, so sad.
You take issue with my face and smile?
Too bad, so sad.
Someone told me you don’t like how I walk.
Too bad, so sad.
Let me guess, you’re not fond of how I talk?
Too bad, so sad.
You claim there’s something wrong with the pencils I wear,
Too bad, so sad.
And yet, you continue to gaze and stare.
Too bad, so sad.

I’m sorry, let me break for a minute.
If you’ll be a dear, please lend an ear and hear what I have to say.
I understand you take issue with me.
So, maybe I can be loud sometimes.
I’m not always good at expressing what’s on my mind.
I make it a point to give you the real deal of how I feel about something.
Modern pop music: I had it, and I’m not afraid to debate it.
I can’t stand popular fads, they hurt my brain.
Based on my attire sometimes, you’d swear I’m insane,
And I don’t claim I’m not.
I can’t pretend I don’t know why you don’t like me a whole lot.
I’m not fool, I get it.
It’s cool…And yet that
Doesn’t mean I’m changing who I am for you.
Suck it up. Get over it.
You want me to renounce my identity so you can feel better?
Will it make you feel swell, or
Cool like an evening in the summer weather?
Then forgive me for not allowing your feelings and thoughts toward me to change who I am.
No. I take that back.
I’m sorry I was sorry.
I don’t need your forgiveness to be myself.
I don’t need your permission to be free to be me,
Free like an eagle flying high though the sky with his wings spread wide going as high as he may please
‘Cause he’s free.
Not bound by any limitation
He flies with no hesitation.
Likewise, I will not be bound by you.
It doesn’t matter what you say or do.
I’m here to honor Father God, not be pandered by you,
So shoo…and don’t bother me.

You find it odd that I use “crud” and “heathen” in my speech.
Too bad, so sad.
Or that I may randomly dance as I’m walking in the streets.
Too bad, so sad.
There are many things about me I must improve,
Too bad, so sad.
But my focus is on God, not trying to please you.
Too bad, so sad.

(c) January 2015, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Journal Entry: New Years Resolution 2015

***This was written on January 2, 2015***

Dear Journal,
Happy New Year! I’m excited about 2015. Next Wednesday, after ACTF, I begin my final semester at Ashland University! It’s been a long ride, but it’s been a fantastic one! I’d be lying if I said I weren’t a little nervous, but I’m excited to see what God has for me!
With a new year comes resolutions. Every year I pray, “God, may I be better this time next year than I am now.” Why in the world did it take me this long to realize how bland and vague that is? I don’t know, but let me fix that now. I’m going to list the top 3 things I want to work on this year:
• Work smart. I’ve been known for working hard: doing a million things at once, keeping late hours, the whole nine yards. But I don’t always work smart. I shouldn’t always sacrifice sleep and food to get work done. I need to focus and follow through with the goals I set for myself. This year, I will work smart.
• Develop my talent. The best moments my talents had a chance to grow was in class or when I was doing something with them: when I was in a play, or when I was writing. I want to continue getting better. I cannot and will not sit on the talents God has given me. This year, I will continue to develop my talent.
• Deepen my relationship with Jesus. Often times I find myself having so much fun or working so hard that I forget about Jesus’ love and care. After all that Jesus has done for me, how dare I forget about His goodness? I want to be closer to Him. I need to dive deeper into His Word, pray more, and start fasting again. Jesus us the most important person in the world to me, and I will honor Him by putting Him first. This year, I will deepen my relationship with Jesus.
So there it is! These are my resolutions for the year of 2015! I can’t wait to see what all God has in store for me! Happy New Year!

(c) January 2015, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

MOVIE REVIEWS: Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013)

Frozen Poster

After being impressed with Wreck-It Ralph, I was interested to see the next Disney film. Even before the film was released or any reviews came out, I knew it would be a good movie. If you pay attention to the pattern of Walt Disney animated films, you’ll notice that every 5-10 films are really good while the next 5-10 films range somewhere between OK to bad. Right now, we’re in the really good phase. Thus, I was already expecting a really good film. However, I didn’t see this movie in theaters, and I didn’t rush to get it on DVD or Blu-ray after its cinematic run. I knew it’s be good, but I didn’t think I’d die if I didn’t see it right away. However, the world quickly let me know how badly I needed to see this movie. EVERYBODY sang all the songs from the film! EVERYBODY recited all the lines! EVERYBODY made every pun imaginable related to this film! My goodness, planet earth! Calm the crud down! Is this what it was like after The Lion King was first released? Oh, and speaking of which, how about the fact that this film was a greater financial success than The Lion King?!? Yeah, that really ticked me off! I got annoyed fast! I still wanted to see the film, I still knew it’d be good, but I needed Earth to shut up about it! But it didn’t! People went on and on about this film! To this day, I cannot walk into Wal-Mart without seeing some kind of merchandise for this picture! My cousin/goddaughter, who is almost 2-years-old, has seen this film and HASN’T seen The Lion King yet! I don’t care how great this picture is – The Lion King is STILL top boss! Well, I finally sat down and watched it with my mother December 26, 2014, more than a year after its release in theaters, and…(sigh) it’s amazing. I can see why the world keeps raving about this film. It is a great film. Everything about it is well done. So much thought, intelligence, and creativity was put into this picture. It shows! We’re passionate about the film because the filmmakers were passionate about it. But what makes this movie so great? Let’s find out.

ANIMATION: The animation looks beautiful. As an Ohio resident, I often hear people complain about the winter. I don’t know how many people could look at winter in this film and say, “I don’t want to live there.” It’s beautiful! I love the colors and the angles we get here. I love the way the ice looks. It’s so majestic and Heavenly. Plus, we get the return of the blend between traditional and CGI animation. That always excites me. There’s not too much else to talk about, I just love how beautiful the film looks.
Frozen - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: Oh boy, here we go. I don’t know of any other Disney movie where almost all the songs where Number One songs except The Lion King. Before we get into that, let’s mention Christophe Beck. Beck is the composer of the score. He’s scored tons of other movies like The Muppets (James Bobin, 2011), Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore, 2012), Date Night (Shawn Levy, 2010), Crazy, Stupid, Love (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 2010), and SOOOOOO many others! Beck’s scores are often very enjoyably whimsical, in the same way Hans Zimmer’s scores are epic and grand. He does a great job with this score. However, let’s talk about our songwriters, Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Remember in my Winnie the Pooh review when I said to keep these two in mind? This is why! My goodness, they are some incredible songwriters! I don’t know how Disney figured they should write the songs for this film, but I’m sure they’re not regretting their decision! These aren’t my favorite Disney songs, but I’d be lying if I said they weren’t good. They’re incredible! Let’s get into it.
1) Frozen Heart: OK, this isn’t the most memorable song in the movie, but…ice!…That’s really all I have to say about it.

2) Do You Want to Build a Snowman: Alright, I love this song! It’s true, I do! This is my favorite song in the film! Maybe I’m a sucker for that sweet melody. Maybe I’m a sap for young Katie Lopez’s voice. I don’t know what it is, but this number is such a gem to me! It’s an important song because we see Elsa and Anna growing farther apart from each other. That’s quite interesting, actually; for such a sweet-sounding song, it does show one of the saddest moments in the film…Not the saddest moment, but do you want to see 2 sisters who love each other be torn apart? I didn’t think so.

3) For the First Time in Forever/(Reprise): I don’t often remember this song, but I know a lot of other people love it. As I’ve said before, though, just because I can’t remember a song doesn’t mean it’s bad. This is a very good song. Aside from the great lyrics and melody, this song shows us how our main characters feel and who they are. Anna is a complete extravert. She just wants to be noticed, to have someone close in her life. She wants to meet people. She wants to be with people. Elsa, on the other hand, is a total introvert. She wants to keep people out of her life. She’s afraid that by letting them in will only hurt them. This song displays that perfectly.

4) Love is an Open Door: This is another good song (get used to that in this review). This goes perfectly with what I said before about Anna being an extrovert. Because she’s so open with people, it makes sense that she’s willing to fall in love with the first person she meets and talks to. “Love is an open door” is pretty much code for “I am an open door,” or “My heart is an open door.” The first time we saw this, however, we didn’t know Hans was the villain. If I can judge this song based on that, it’s a cute song. It’s nice. I hope a lot of people didn’t mentally dismiss this song when they first saw it; this isn’t the first Disney movie to reject the “love at first sight” cliché. We’ve had Aladdin, Mulan, Tarzan, The Princess and the Frog and Beauty and the Beast. It’s a good song.

5) Let It Go: Alright, now we’re here! The most popular pop song to have come out within the past 2 years! As a song for a musical, this song is more than strong. Elsa is finally able to be who she wants to be and do what she wants to do. This is her liberation song. But this song did more for the movie than give us a hit song or serve the plot. This song changed the plot. One of the early concepts for the film included Elsa being the villain. When Lopez and Anderson-Lopez wrote this song, they gave Elsa a voice. They gave her more of a character who could be emphasized with. Because of that, the filmmakers decided to change the story. The song was a game changer in a number of ways. Let’s face it, people, this is a fantastic.

6) Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People: Huh. This is an odd song. I don’t know who asked for a friendship love song between a reindeer and a man, but…thanks? If you are able to get past the strangeness of this number, you’ll find that we do get some character development here. Kristoff doesn’t like people…Yeah…Next song.

7) In Summer: This song could have easily been scrapped from the movie, and nothing would have changed. However, it is a fun song. It’s funny. It’s a toe-taper. It’s enjoyable. It’s surreal. It gets a pass for that.

8) Fixer Upper: I don’t like this song. It’s cartoony. It’s pointless. It doesn’t add anything. Why is it here? For a film this good, I was hoping we could do without a pointless song. Well, we’ve got this one. It is a little catchy and funny, but this did not need to be here at all.

ROMANCE: The romance of this movie is pretty unique. There are two romances to talk about here! I already talked about Anna’s romance with Hans earlier. If it weren’t for that plot twist toward the end of the film and Anna’s extrovert personality, this would be a huge step backwards for Disney. However, Disney’s a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Not only did they dodge the “love at first sight” cliché, but they also mocked this cliché they became so famous for. They say upfront how ridiculous the notion is to begin with. What this shows is the importance of being too open. The “romance” between Anna and Hans shows the danger is blindly trusting somebody. That’s a good message for people, especially this day in age, due to technology, social media, and the modern principles we live by. Alright, that’s Anna’s romance with Hans, but what about her romance with Kristoff? I admire this romance as well! Is it the greatest Disney romance ever? No, but it’s still a good one. I’m sure a lot of people will say these two fell in love by the end of the movie, but I would argue differently. Look at how they set up the lesson. Look at how they keep talking about Anna’s romance with Hans and the result of that. If the film is coming out and saying there’s no such things as love at first sight, I don’t think it’s saying romance can be developed in such a short amount of time either. Yes, an attraction between the two of them is more than possible, and that’s exactly what I think this is. They’re attracted to each other. They’re young, they went on a grand adventure together, they learned a lot about each other, and they saved each other’s life. That’s totally fine! I can see how an attraction could come from that. Maybe they will fall in love (they probably will), but this is fine for now. In fact, this is fantastic! No I don’t believe they’re in love, but I do like their attraction to one another.
Frozen - Romance 2Frozen - Romance 1

CHARACTERS: This is one of those movies that I find myself liking all these characters, at least the ones the movie wants me to like. Let’s go through them.
1) Anna – There are a lot of good things about Anna. I like that she’s funny and quirky. She’s not just clumsy, but she can say some funny things as well. I love her journey and her arc. I love watching her learn what it truly means to love someone. I love her extrovert personality and spirit. It makes Anna so entertaining and fun to watch. We still emphasize with her, though. I want to see her bond with her sister. I want them to be friends again. That really saddens me! Anna is just a wonderful character! She’s engaging, she’s fun, and we can all sympathize with her! Anna is great!
Frozen - Anna
2) Elsa – The first time I saw this movie, I sympathized with Elsa the most. Really, I thought she was the protagonist, the one who the movie was really about. And even though Anna’s the one who has the growth and change in the story, I still sympathize will Elsa the most. I feel sorry for Anna, but GOOD GRIEF, said Charlie Brown! Elsa’s the real victim here! She wants to be close to her sister. She wants things to go back to the way they used to be. She won’t let that happen, though, because she doesn’t want to hurt her sister again. Her sister means so much to her that she would rather avoid making contact with her than hurt her again. But Elsa has another trait that is very relatable to audiences. Elsa has a fear greater than hurting people, and that is the fear of her gift. She doesn’t know how great her powers are. Because of that, she’s afraid of them. I think that’s relatable to a lot of people. How many don’t want to use their talents because they don’t know how great they are? That’s a great characteristic for a character like Elsa. She’s not spewing out jokes or falling on her face like her sister, but her journey to discover who she really is and where she truly belong really captivates me. I love Elsa!
Frozen - Elsa
3) Hans – I have mixed feelings about Hans. On one hand, he is a smart villain. He knew how to work this entire conspiracy against the kingdom of Arendelle so that he could rule. He had a plan, but was also flexible and spontaneous enough to go along with the convenient events that took place. This was a clever guy. On the other hand, though, there are some problems with him. Did he have to wait until Elsa and Anna came back to Arendelle to do away with them? If he had gone after Elsa alone, he could have killed her, come back, and he would have been that much closer to ruling the kingdom. He could have done something else. But putting these things aside, he is a creep, isn’t he? Didn’t he trick you with how nice, thoughtful, and charming he was in the first two-thirds of the film. His meanness might have come out of nowhere, but he showed how cruel he really is – how dark he is. But even then, his character isn’t that interesting. He’s interesting to watch because of the twist in he plot. As a character, though, I don’t know if I want to watch him. I don’t find myself invested in him by that point anymore. I do find issue with him, but it’s mainly in regards to the plot. As a character, I like him; I must say, though, I like him much more as a caring and naïve prince than I do an evil villain.
Frozen - Hans
4) Kristoff – This is an enjoyable character. I do like that he’s a stick-in-the-mud. I like that he’s a loner. One question that was never answered, though, is why? Why doesn’t he like people? Why has he always lived with his reindeer? What did humans ever do to him? If those questions had been answered, I’d be able to relate to him more. As he is, he’s fine. I like Kristoff.
Frozen - Kristoff
5) Olaf – As soon as this snowman comes on screen, you know what he’s going to be. He’s the comic relief. He’s the one who’s going to make us laugh by causing accidents, making puns, and doing and saying over the top things. Olaf definitely lives up to that title. The question, however, would be is he a good comic relief? The answer is a thankful yes! He’s not the funniest character in the world. Some of the things he says and does have no purpose than just to make the audience laugh. However, he does a good job at making the audience laugh. He’s not loud and over the top, and he’s not too distracting from the action and story. I’m not exceptionally excited whenever he’s on screen, but I’m not hoping he’ll leave either. He is a legitimate funny character. He does make us laugh. He’s also adorable. I think half of that comes from his service to the plot and main character, and the other half comes from how naïve he is. He is a fun guy. Olaf is cool.
Frozen - Olaf

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is incredibly strong. There are a couple of problems with it, but it’s fantastic as a whole! I love the set up. I want to see where it’s going to go. I want to see what the outcome of this story is going to be. You probably already know the main issue with the story. Prince Hans’ surprise twist in the third act comes out of nowhere. It works in regard to the theme the film is trying to get across. On paper, it is indeed clever. I even like the subtle set up we get for this twist in the first act of the film. He tells Anna he has 12 older brothers, remember? That’s the reason he plotted this stunt against the Arendelle monarchs. Again, it looks fine on paper. When we see it on screen, however, it doesn’t feel that genius. Rather than being able to totally be invested in this surprise twist, this feels like something that was figured out and crafted at the last minute. It felt as though Hans became the villain because Disney films have villains. I’m not saying this is what happened when the filmmakers were making this film, but that’s what it feels like. There’s nothing wrong with this twist, but it feels like it was thrown together sloppily. Maybe if we saw some other subtle hints that he was a villain, that’d be fine. However, it’s clear that the only real reason for this plot twist was so we could work our way to the message of the film.
I must say, I LOVE the message of this film! This is incredible! It’s exuberant! It’s colossal! I don’t mind the plot twist with Hans if it means I get this amazing message! It’s so rare! When was the last time you saw love displayed like this in a film – especially a children’s film?!! When it was revealed Anna’s life could only be saved by the act of true love and everyone believed she needed to be kissed, I rolled my eyes. “Really? We’re doing this again? Are we really going back to The Little Mermaid stages of true love?” I was really disappointed! But, sure enough, the movie is smarter and more clever then I gave it credit for! To see Anna’s life saved because of her sacrificial display for her sister was beautiful! Really, the message is the best thing about this film. The story is really good, the characters are great, the songs are wonderful, but the message is displayed in such a great way that it makes the film worth the watch!
As I mentioned before, and you may have heard, an early idea was that Elsa would be the villain. She was going to freeze Anna’s heart intentionally, kidnap her, and send an evil army of snowmen to attack Arendelle. I’m glad the filmmakers changed the story. If they had kept this idea, the story would not have meant anything to the audience. The theme was consistent throughout; Anna was always going to save Elsa’s life in the end. If the filmmakers had kept the idea of Elsa being the villain, a wide audience would not have understood why Anna would go to such great lengths to save someone who was so mean to her. I’m not saying that would have been terrible to show, but keep in mind how big Disney’s audience is. Do you think everyone around the world would have been or board with Anna saving someone who wanted to kill her? On top of that, we wouldn’t have been able to sympathize with Elsa. Because of that, the story needed to change. We needed to see Anna and Elsa bond as sisters and love each other. That’s where the heart of the movie is, the bond between the two sisters.
Obviously, the theme is love. However, it occurs in more places than just the end. Elsa distances herself from Anna because she loves her and she doesn’t want to hurt her again. It’s sad and can be avoided, but we see why she did this. Anna, being the extrovert she is, can only love the way she knows how and wants to spend as much time with Elsa as possible. Olaf nearly melts because he cares for Anna and loves her so much. We learn that love is not giving your life to someone blindly. That’s especially important nowadays. Think about how people give other folks all their information online. Think about how some people pretend to be someone else on social media. This film subtly says to be careful of that. It’s not wise or smart to fall for someone you don’t really know, and looks can be deceiving. I really like that.
The message and the ideas are what really make this film great. They truly are the best things about the movie. What makes the film spectacular is that the message and themes are supported by a good story, great characters, music, animation, and an interesting romance. All of these elements combined make this film as great and powerful as it is.
Frozen - Story

CONCLUSION: What can I say, folks? This movie is just fantastic! Yes I’m annoyed that it surpassed the success of The Lion King, and that film will forever be my favorite Disney movie; but this film IS good! In fact, this is basically the Lion King for the younger generation. It’s a big film. It’s enormously popular. The songs are strong. The characters are all loveable. The story is great. The animation is great. It’s just amazing! I do really enjoy this film! I can’t really say it’s one of my personal favorites, but I don’t know how anyone can watch this film and not be impressed by its greatness! Even if people are becoming annoyed by the fact that it’s everywhere, that doesn’t mean that the original content is any less good. I know Disney’s working on a sequel right now, and I’d be interested in seeing it. I do surprisingly see potential in what the sequel could be.
This is my last Disney movie review for now. Some of you might have been hoping I’d tackle Big Hero 6 (Don Hall and Chris Williams, 2014) first, but I haven’t seen it yet; I’ll try to review that later. I’ll be sure to review other Disney films later, but I want to start posting other movie reviews and start going back to posting poems and creative writing pieces. Until then, thank you for keeping up with these reviews, folks! Share your thoughts about them, and keep the magic alive! God bless you all, and I love you!
Frozen - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore, 2012)

Wreck-It Ralph

Much like The Princess and the Frog and Tangled, I was not expecting to like this film simply because it’s a Disney flick. Anytime I heard about the film or saw the positive reviews, I rolled my eyes. “Another Disney movie? Really? I must have forgotten to be interested.” Of course, I accidently saw the film in the spring of 2013 with some acquaintances, and…I think it’s a great film! What can I say? This film is a great film! I was surprised by how good it was! This will be a pretty short review, as there are only so many time I can say something is good. Let’s just shut up and get into the review.

ANIMATION: Remember in my Tangled review when I said I wasn’t really a fan of CG animation from the Walt Disney Animation Studios? This film makes me a fan of it! It does everything I’d want to see in a hand-drawn Disney animated movie! The colors are bright and bold! The backgrounds cause you to get lost in the movie! There’s an excellent balance of brightness and darkness! My favorite aspect of the animation is being able to look at the contrast of colors. You have a character like Sgt. Calhoun, whose design is already dark. Her color tone is dark because she comes from a video game that centers around killing people. It is so cool to see this dark character in the “Sugar Rush” video game, a game that is so bright and colorful! That type of creativity is amazing! It looks so good! It’s fantastic! I love it!
Wreck-It Ralph - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: Um…Henry Jackman composed the score again…Yay…

ROMANCE: It is a lot of fun watching Fix-It Felix, Jr. and Sgt. Calhoun together! They’re funny, they’re adorable, and they’re so sweet together. Part of what makes the romance work, and funny, is that Felix and Calhoun are two totally different people. Calhoun is dark (not just in color and design, but her personality and back story too), cynical, and tough. Felix is happy, joyous, and excited. Much like Belle and Beast, you wouldn’t expect these people to fall in love with each other, yet they’re the perfect couple! This may be one of my favorite Disney romances…
Wreck-It Ralph - Romance

CHARACTERS: For the most part, these are some pretty good characters. I enjoy watching them, and they do a great job of entertaining me and causing me to emphasize with them. Let’s dive in.
1) Wreck-It Ralph – On one hand, Ralph is like most other Disney leads. He’s the typical nice guy who has some sort of misunderstanding. He’s the one who’s on a quest to prove his worth to the other people around him. He also has to learn how to get along with someone and be less self-absorbed. However, he’s somewhat unique as well. Most of the Disney leads, at least in most of the past films I’ve reviewed, have had to rise and become something greater than everyone else, whether that be royalty, a god, a hero, a leader, or whatever. Here, Ralph has a simple quest: he just wants to be appreciated. He just wants to be treated like everybody else. He wants people to respect him. I think that’s what makes me relate to him the most. I sympathize with his objective. I also like how he still has a heart for other people. Even when his objective was to get a trophy, he still ran the other mean kids away from Vanellope. He’s not a mean person; he’s kind and compassionate toward others. He just wants to be respected, too. I like Ralph.
Wreck-It Ralph - Wreck-It Ralph
2) Vanellope van Schweetz – This character, on the other hand, irritates the crud out of me! I now a lot of people like her, but I don’t. When she first came in the film, she was being such a jerk to Ralph. She took his medal, messed around with him, and left. I’m sorry, it’s hard for me to get past that. An introduction means a lot to me. If you want me to like a character, introduce him or her in a likeable way. This doesn’t work for me. I was really annoyed when the other kids began to destroy her car; I thought, “No! Don’t make me care for her!” I know she becomes nicer over time, but I can’t get over the fact that she was a Class-A jerk at the beginning of the film! Boo!
Wreck-It Ralph - Vanellope
3) King Candy – I won’t talk about this guy too much since I mentioned him in my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list. I mainly like this because of his incredible back story! With such a genius set up like that, this character is smart as crud, too! I like that I don’t suspect that he’s the bad guy when he first arrives on the screen. Normally, we can tell who the villain is right away, but there’s a bit of a mystery to it here. We’re left in the dark along with the other characters. It’s a great set-up, and a great character.
Wreck-It Ralph - King Candy
4) Fix-It Felix, Jr. – I don’t know what all to say about Felix. I think if he was the main character, I’d be annoyed with him quickly. His overly happy personality would have gotten old quick. However, because he’s a supporting character, he’s a lot of fun! I like the comedy that comes from him. I like his positivity. I like his voice. I like his personality. Maybe he could have been a good protagonist, in fact; who knows? As it is, he’s a really good character, and I enjoy him a lot!
Wreck-It Ralph - Fix-It Felix, Jr.
5) Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun – This lady is awesome! First of all, she’s a sergeant who comes to kick some major tail! She’s smart, she’s quick, she’s action-packed, and she’s intimidating! I love her! Second of all, she brings a lot of great comedy as well! The back story of her previous romance is tragically hysterical! Anytime she comes on screen, I get excited! I love her! This is one of Disney’s finest female leads!
Wreck-It Ralph - Sgt. Calhoun

STORY: The story is so good, so smart, and so creative, it might be one of the best stories in a Disney movie of all time! The story is the best aspect about the movie, in my opinion! We’ve had movies centered around video games and video game characters in the past, of course, but there is so much creativity brought to this one! The characters in each arcade game can “game hop” to other games. They can meet up in a central area. I was also impressed by the twists in this film. When I saw the reveal of King Candy’s true identity, I nearly lost it! It makes so much sense! It was set up perfectly, and one can see how this could happen! I love the story!
I like the moral of the film. It’s kind of the typical Disney lesson: “Be true to yourself.” However, it’s presented in a different way here. Ralph, who is was the villain in his game, has to accept who he is. Being bad is OK, he realizes. Part of me wonders about this. I’m not going to lie, I can see a lot of kids watching this movie and pursuing their bad actions. On the other hand, I know that’s not the film’s intention. Also, I know that a lot of kids are way smarter than that. I don’t think we have too much to worry about.
I’m not a gamer at all. I don’t play a lot of video games now, I didn’t play video games a lot when I was a kid. I know the really popular characters, but I could not tell you a thing about the plots, motivations, or even the names of video games. That being said, I know a lot of people were upset when they saw their favorite video game characters appear in the film for all of 2 or 3 minutes. They thought these characters were going to be seen throughout the entire movie. Part of the audience felt ripped off. I can see why, but I don’t think there’s anything over to rave and be really angry over. What the film lacks in classic video game characters, it more than makes up for in good characters and a great story.
Wreck-It Ralph - Story

CONCLUSION: I am so glad I was wrong about this movie! In fact, I think this film taught me that Disney films are not all pretentious, cheesy, goofy, and annoying. Many of them are smart, engaging, sympathetic, and fun. I don’t play video games often, and I enjoyed the crud out of this film! If you like video games a lot, you should love this film, even if there aren’t a lot of classic video game characters throughout the film. What else can I say about it? It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s smart! It’s everything I’d want in a Disney movie! Ya done good, film. Ya done good.
Wreck-It Ralph - Conclusion