The Muppets’ Best Literary Adaptations: A Retrospective
It is time to play the music. It is time to light the lights. It is time to discuss Muppet literary adaptations tonight!
Alice in Wonderland
The Muppet Show is full of literary clips, but our favorite is the episode centered on Brooke Shields as Alice (sorry Peter Sellers, your monologue from Richard III with chickens under your arms was a close second). One of the highlights of the episode is Brooke Shields falling down the rabbit hole with strange, new Muppets making puns as she recites lines from Lewis Carroll’s novel. And le'ts not forget Scooter reciting the Jabberwocky. The Jabberwocky scene is an example of puppetry genius, and Lewis Carroll never sounded so good coming from a little, orange Muppet.
The Christmas Carol
With Michael Caine as Scrooge, The Muppet Christmas Carol easily sits in the pantheon of best holiday movies. While the music is pretty terrible (who doesn’t fast forward “When Love Is Gone” starts?), everything else makes up for it. From Miss Piggy rocking the Victorian dress and sassing it up as Emily Cratchit to the Muppet that was created for the Ghost of Christmas Present. As for Tiny Tim? We have decided he is only tolerable as a little frog. God bless us everyone!
Muppet Treasure Island
Tim Curry can do no wrong as Long John Silver. The only person who matches his charisma is Miss Piggy as Benjamina Gunn. We absolutely love her animal print outfit and flamboyant headdress as well as her ability to karate chop evil pirates. Less charming is Kevin Bishop as the milktoast Jim Hawkins, but Muppets are hard to share a stage with. Unlike other Muppet films, the music in this adaptation is pretty fabulous. Whenever we are snowed in, we dance around our apartments singing “Cabin Fever.”
The Wizard of Oz
Ashanti plays Dorothy, Queen Latifah is a sassy Aunt Em, and there are J-Lo references all over the place. While the production quality leaves much to be desired, the casting is fantastic. Pepe plays Toto (her family is not about dogs), Kermit is the Scarecrow (proving Miss Piggy’s theory that he has no brain), and Fozzie is cast as the Cowardly Lion (who is cursed with major stage fright). The most spectacular casting decision was Gonzo as the Tin Thing; he lost his heart because his employer wants him to work long hours instead of courting Camilla. As for our favorite scene? Just as Ashanti is about to fight the Wicked Witch of the West, Quentin Tarantino appears in a meeting with Kermit. He describes a really bloody fight scene (involving a samurai sword, of course) much to Kermit’s horror. When he finally describes Ashanti hitting her in the face, Kermit says, “We can afford that!”
What Muppet adaptation are we hoping for next? An adaptation of Pride and Prejudice? We would love to see Miss Piggy play Elizabeth Bennet and Denise play Caroline Bingley. Who wouldn’t want to see Elizabeth karate chop Caroline? Let us know at @QuirkBooks!
Sarah Fox is an editor, writer, writing consultant, and pop culture enthusiast. Besides regularly contributing to Quirk Books’ blog, she has published an edition of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. You can find her online at www.thebookishfox.com.