Kermit’s Swamp Years originally aired on the Starz Channel in 2002 and was then released on DVD that same year. I found it floating in a $5 bin a few years ago among other forgotten DVDs. For some reason, I sincerely dreaded watching it. At the time of its release, I was still too heartbroken from Muppets from Space to watch my beloved Muppets. I was afraid of the path the Muppets were being led down and I worried that this would be even worse than Muppets from Space. Inconceivable! Fast forward to present day. After The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted restored my faith in the folks behind and under the Muppets, I still had not watched this 12-year old straight-to-video release. Even though I love the Muppets and choose to watch them over countless other shows and movies, I struggled to pop it into my DVD player. I finally did and was pleasantly surprised, but it is not without its faults. In this video, we see Kermit as a 12 year old living in the swamp. He plays and explores with his best friends Goggles and Croaker. When he is not playing with his friends, he is dreaming of the exciting world outside of the swamp. When he and his friends sneak away from the swamp for the first time, Goggles is caught by a pet store owner and then sold to a deranged high school biology teacher who wants to dissect him. This is the first and only Muppet movie that did not include the other Muppet main characters except for Kermit and a brief cameo made by younger versions of Statler and Waldorf. Arnie the Alligator saves Kermit, Googles, and Croaker from an earlier run in with the teacher in the swamp. He is also the alligator that attacked Bernie the agent in the opening of The Muppet Movie, suggesting this is canonical. If the other Muppet characters were included, then that connection would be severed, but the benefits of including those characters would outweigh those of the matching history. The energetic and fun relationship that the Muppets share is missing, and you continually long and wait for it, but it is a longing that is never quenched. Miss Piggy’s larger than life presence, Fozzie’s innocence and terrible jokes, and Gonzo’s weirdness have all been stripped from the movie. Kermit even comes in contact with a pig, a real pig and not a puppet, and says, “I hope I never see another one of these as long as I live” which earns a chuckle, but just reminds us of what is missing. Not only are the characters missing, but the familiar voices behind them are missing too. Muppet performers who not only performed their principle characters, but also supporting characters with variations of their own voices are missed. This is the only time that I have trouble with Steve Whitmire’s performance as Kermit. Although his voice for Kermit is nice blend of his own interpretation of the character along with a hint of Henson’s original voice for Kermit, he seems to struggle and vary Kermit’s voice throughout the film between a deeper and higher voice. The variation is inappropriate as well. An older Kermit serves as a bookend at the beginning and end of the movie, talking about his friends and looking back at the past. His voice would be expected to differ from the younger Kermit. While Whitmire does provide a variation between the voices of Kermit at different ages, he inconsistently varies the voice of young Kermit too much. Younger Kermit starts out deeper and grows to the more nasal, higher pitched Kermit we hear in recent performances. Whitmire’s vocal performance matches the confusion of the writers. It just seems that back in 2002, no one knew what direction to take the Muppets in. Muppets Take Manhattan and every other film that has a monumental Kermit flip out and break from the Muppets teaches us that Kermit needs his other friends to be Kermit and to be successful. Without them, Kermit is still a wonderful and endearing character, but he is missing distinct parts of himself that he gains from being around the other characters. Kermit is their leader, but he needs his team of Muppets in order to be a leader. True, he has his best friends Goggles and Croaker, but Kermit does not emerge as the leader in this group. He is a dreamer, but Croaker is the leader. Croaker is the headstrong frog that forces Kermit and Goggles to leave the swamp. It is hard to see Kermit following someone else instead of being an adventurous driving force. Just like junior high school yearbooks that chronicle the awkward years of teenagers, Kermit’s Swamp Years chronicles an awkward time for the Muppets. As with Muppets from Space, cheap potty humor is available for quick laughs. Goggles bends over and exposes green felt butt cheeks and spanks himself when taunting a bully. I am typically first in line to laugh at a classic fart or butt joke, but this type of humor was always absent from the Muppets and is glaringly out of character. Instead of a clever play on words or visual gag, a butt or fart joke has been inserted to get a cheap laugh instead of earning it. This movie does pay homage to Jim Henson in a way that no other has. Kermit gets knocked down and a young helps him up. The boy looks at Kermit as he walks away and quietly says, “Hmm.” As the camera pulls out, it reveals a mailbox that reads “Henson” on the side. Several performers and writers who worked closely with Henson said he would often sit and quietly say, “Hmm” when presented with a new idea. Although this is a brief moment in the film, it serves as a nice nod to Henson. Compared to other Muppet films, Kermit’s Swamp Years is forgettable, but not as cringe inducing as Muppets from Space. As a stand-alone children’s video, it is entertaining and fun. It abandoned most of the themes and characteristics that sparked the magic and brilliance of other Muppet works. I give this one 2 out of 5 rubber chickens! See larger image Kermit’s Swamp Years New From: $2.50 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.