Making My Kid Like Things: The Muppets

17Apr12

Ever since I found out I was going to be a dad, I’ve been asking that age old question: how can I make my son like what I like? Of course this is impossible. Unless the thing you want him to like is unquestionably great, then it should be easy.

With the release of “The Muppets” into theaters, we’ve been considering it as a possible “first theater movie” for Henry, so I immediately started strategizing (because that’s how parenting is done: controlled and planned). I came up with a pretty good plan involving a slow absorption process where I introduce the idea of Muppets, then show clips and eventually the trailer and so on, hoping that the natural charm of the Muppets will take over.

I’ve been doing the subtle-dropping-of-hits thing for a while on other things, bringing up Batman and Superman elements here and there, and we have lots of “Star Wars” stuff around the house so it’ll get in there*. But the Muppets take a lot less work. Exactly ONE viewing of the official trailer later, my son said, “Frog again.”

I welled up.  And this is the point: Kermit is magic. Even in his non-Henson times, the power of that voice and hand puppet remains tangible. I got a little choked up. I mean, I like the Muppets, but in that one instance, I remembered how much I LOVED them as a kid. They seemed to be made for me, which seems like the benchmark of any great entertainment.

I pressed on, through the power of YouTube and showed him the opening to “The Muppet Movie” and the song “Rainbow Connection.” I welled up again. Glancing at the comments, I realized I’m not the only person to do this, and I wondered why this was. I believe it’s sincerity. The Muppets are not nasty or mean (not really). They are sincere and proud and out there. And at his full Jim Henson strength, there is nothing more potent than Kermit singing. My son loved it. We’re planning a trip. This is going to be great.

One random thought: “Movin’ Right Along,” the catchy duet between Fozzie and Kermit in the car, is — like most of the Muppet humor, I imagine — funnier than I remembered. Anyone who wonders if kids will get the humor flying over their heads in these movies doesn’t get the point of family shows. There’s something for everyone. The jokes are funny, if you get them or not, if that makes any sense. And I don’t know why, but Kermit’s “I don’t believe it” after seeing the literal fork in the road kills me. Maybe because it sounds like he’s saying “I don’t believe this joke” or “I don’t buy it.” It’s the line reading, and it’s awesome.

 

*How could it not, all-powerful marketing machine?

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