My Fozzie Feels

23 Aug

I can’t be said that sad moments in Muppet productions don’t exist. Like hell they don’t. To say that would be to discredit such heart rendering moments like ‘Saying Goodbye’ in Manhattan, Tiny Tim’s death in Christmas Carol, Gonzo’s renditions of ‘My Way’ and ‘Wishing Song’ on The Muppet Show, and so on.

This is especially true of newest feature film. To say there aren’t any moving moments in the film would make you come off as completely heartless. True, I’m overly sensitive with films and tend to cry easily, but even so. Tears were streaming down my face when Jason gave his speech to Walter, I bawled throughout ‘Rainbow Connection’, and I came dangerously close to yelling at my three year old cousin when she tried to show me she can count to five during ‘Pictures in My Head’.

By now I’ve seen the movie so many time I’ve lost count of my viewing number, which has given me a chance to reflect on what I find to be one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the film. It’s not a scene that makes me weep, but it pangs at my heart every time I think about it.

It’s when Fozzie and Kermit are reunited.

This, to the untrained eye, might not seem to be the most emotional scene of the film, but I’ve always been a little sensitive when it comes to everyone’s favorite bear comedian. How can you not love that bear? Whether performed by the masterful Frank Oz or the mind blowingly talented Eric Jacobson, Fozzie is always Fozzie. He’s tough but sensitive, clumsy, and a good friend at heart. His relationship with Kermit is one of my favorites, especially after just going through The Muppet Show in its entirety recently.

All these components are why this scene breaks my heart a little every time. I expressed this to someone over at Muppet Central once and they responded with: “But the Rainbow Connection parody is so funny!” Sure, the lyrics are funny, but the humor of it distracts form the clear situation at hand: Fozzie’s life has taken a nose dive. He’s gone from the glamor and glitz of a (kind of sort of) well loved act over on The Muppet Show to this dark, grimy Reno motel where he gets to work with really unpleasant Moopets (and Dave Grohl) who impersonate his best friends multiple times a day. Watching Kermit’s face as he first takes in Fozzie’s performance confirms two things: 1) Steve Whitmire is really fucking talented, and 2) This is not what he was expecting. Later he references the Christmas cards Fozzie sends out, illustrating Fozzie’s embarrassment of where he’s ended up in life. He doesn’t want Kermit or anyone else to know where he is, that his solo career never took off, and that he’s all alone with a group of performers that scare him so much that he retreats to the comfort of his “dressing room” whenever they’re near.

Speaking of his “dressing room”, that’s a whole other aspect that hurts to watch. I mean, his dressing room’s an alleyway. An alleyway. There are gunshots and sirens in the background. There’s one moment, after it rains and Fozzie tells Kermit to “grab the cushions” and they head under the covering, just – ugh! – the way Fozzie looks around, you can just tell how ashamed he is. He’s embarrassed that this is how Kermit has to see him.

Which leads to the the last part. Kermit and Fozzie. There’s such an awkward tension between the two at first, signifying something crucial: They’ve forgotten how to do this. As they go on talking, their conversation eases back into comfortable routine, but even so there’s something of regret for both of them. Fozzie regrets having his best friend see where he’s ended up in life, whereas Kermit regrets neglecting his friendship with the bear for so long. Kermit even starts a sentence “If I had known…” If he had known, he would’ve clearly done something about it. Which really brings the whole thing full circle as to why it’s so devastating that the Muppets broke up. If Kermit had only known Gonzo was miserable in his plumbing business, would he have helped? If he had known The Electric Mayhem were playing gigs in Subway stations for petty change, would he have taken action? If he had known Piggy was still hurting from their last confrontation after all these years, would he have reached out sooner?

Am I reading too much into this? Without a doubt. I actually wrote most of this entry months ago in my Spanish class (because writing about my sadness for Fozzie was much more entertaining than learning the past subjunctive tense), I just hadn’t gotten around to typing it all up until now.

THE POINT OF ALL THIS IS (I can hear every high school teacher I’ve ever had groaning at those six overused words) I adore Fozzie, and watching him struggle tears me apart. I learned that going through The Muppet Show, with the exception of Gonzo (who’ll always be number one in my heart), I care the most about Fozzie. He always has the best intentions at heart for everyone, and dammit, he just wants to make people laugh, and how could anyone not love him for that?

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