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Insane Puppet Theatrics – MEET THE FEEBLES

MEET THE FEEBLES is a cesspool of creativity.

Back in 2000 I wrote a piece for local Austin ‘zine Salt for Slugs in anticipation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which I analyzed the chances it would suck, and mathematically arrived at a .01% chance forecast (aren’t I a genius?). You see, up to that point Peter Jackson‘s body of work was ridiculous, fluctuating between the respectable and the outrageous, the sublime and the scatological. Bad Taste and Dead Alive were comedic masterpieces of the Grand Guignol, The Frighteners an underrated horror/comedy which foreshadowed LOTR‘s amazing special FX, Heavenly Creatures a fantasy-infused art film which introduced the world to Kate Winslet, and Forgotten Silver was an idiosyncratic mockumentary aimed straight over the heads of most viewers. I love all these things! But what I loved most about PJ’s early work was the high concept, D.I.Y. ambition of Meet the Feebles, wherein Jackson skewers show-biz by filtering it through the mythical utopia of Jim Henson’s Muppets, overcoming cliches by lingering on details and amping everything up to 11. In Jackson’s TV variety-show universe, the hedgehog (a Kermit clone with a speech impediment) falls in love with a chorus girl poodle while the emotionally unstable hippo starlet (a Miss Piggy clone) exercises compulsively to lose weight for the affection of executive producer Bletch, a walrus boss cheating on her with his kitten secretary. And Jackson adds to the mix a muckraking fly who spends most of his time in the toilet, a sexually promiscuous rabbit, a lascivious rat and a weird Gonzo-esque underwear sniffer while taking stabs at everything from sexually transmitted diseases (including “the big one”) to heroin addiction, pornography to Vietnam flashbacks (Deer Hunter influenced, natch), and tops it off with an over the top, ultra-violent ending. It’s an amazing extravaganza that works on all levels and is much smarter than it needs to be, defying it’s budgetary shortcomings and delivering the goods. It might not be the classic entertainment adventure that Lord of the Rings proved to be, but it’ll definitely move you – even if it’s to the brink of nausea!

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