Peter Jackson’s second film. It concerns the cast and crew of the childrens’ show Meet the Feebles, all puppets, who are trying to rehearse for their upcoming bid for syndication. We have Heidi Hippo, a binge-eating has-been, Wynyard the frog, a heroin addict with PTSD from his tour in Vietnam, Robert the virtuous hedgehog, Billy the horny bunny with an STI, the cruel producer Bletch the walrus, sleazy director Trevor the rat, Lucille the chorus poodle, Sebastian the gruff gay manager fox, and a whole lot more debauched animal-type-things.
This had been on my watchlist for a while, and my friend Paula dared me to watch it so she could see my reaction. I invited her to watch it with me, along with our friend Tabbitha. These were our faces when we paused half-way through to take a selfie:
Tabbitha and I had never seen it. We were duly horrified. Like Jackson’s film Braindead (AKA Dead Alive) it’s creative, with amazing special effects…and absolutely disgusting. So, so disgusting. Fluids. All the fluids. I’ll spare you specific examples. We spent the first hour and fifteen minutes or so incredulous at the continuously building level of grossness. Even the characters are ugly. Especially the racist ones, like the Vietnamese gophers (who speak a white person’s approximation of what Vietnamese sounds like to him), or the Indian Gandhi wannabe who in the course of navel-gazing gets his head ensconced in his anus. We couldn’t decide whether the racism was an example of racism or actual racism, but judging by Dead Alive, Jackson is against racism but not stereotypes.
We didn’t fully decide whether the movie was bad or bad to make a point, but I stated that I trust Jackson as a filmmaker, even in his early days, and I think he had the wherewithal to have made us suffer purposely. There are definitely a handful of scenes that seem out of place, like Bletch golfing or Wynyard’s extended war flashback, but overall we did agree that it’s a clever parody of Hollywood, from its beauty standards to the exploitation of young actresses to rampant drug use. It also addresses suicide and psychosis. And let’s not forget the media, represented by an obnoxious fly that eats poo. When Heidi starts bringing down the show, that’s when we finally became emotionally invested. See the clip below, if you don’t mind spoilers.
I do resent the use of Muppet-like puppets to show corruption and behind-the-scenes mayhem with the child-friendliness being only a facade. Jim Henson was dedicated to educating while entertaining, but was rarely overly sweet, like Robert and his pasted-on love story with Lucille. Honestly, I was rooting for one or both of them to die.
I’m glad I didn’t watch it alone; it’s so bizarre and misanthropic I would have been depressed afterwards. It’s like the film from The Ring–you see it, are haunted by it, and have to show it to someone else. It has to be seen to be believed.