May 21, 2023

Life's Like A Movie. Write Your Own Ending.

The Muppet Movie
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
This is the show that my wife was looking forward to the most out of all of the movies that have been announced so far for the 2023 season at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.  While she doesn't like the second half of this double feature at all (the 2011 Disney film: The Muppets), the original 1979 film The Muppet Movie is one of her all-time favorites.

Before I get too much farther into the night, I have a confession to make.  I didn't grow up as a fan of The Muppets.  In fact, I don't think I watched a single episode of The Muppet Show, or Fraggle Rock, or any of their movies until I was in my 20's.  The closest I came in the 80's and 90's to seeing anything Jim Henson related was his work in the original Star Wars trilogy and in movies like Labyrinth.  I didn't even really watch Sesame Street all that much when I was a little kid (Mister Rogers and The Magic Garden were more my jam).  I have no idea why The Muppets were so far off of my radar when I was a child... they just were.

I grew to appreciate a lot of Jim Henson's work as an adult.  Two of my favorite Christmas specials that I watch every year were created by him: Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas and The Christmas Toy, the latter of which makes me cry like a baby when they sing Together At Christmas at the end.  I've also fallen completely in love with Fraggle Rock.  However, while I certainly do like The Muppet Show, I can't say that I love it.  Something about The Muppets themselves just doesn't click with me the way that it does for so many people.  I wish that it did.  In fact, I'm insanely jealous of all of those people who sway back and forth with a tear in their eye while singing along to Rainbow Connection.  There's obviously something very special that's there, and I feel like it's a ball that's hit just out of the reach of my glove.  I try to catch it, but it's always just a few inches out of my grasp and I have no idea why.

Does this make any sense to anybody?  I'm not an insensitive guy.  Hell, I've cried while reading some Peanuts comics.  Why is something as pure and wholesome as Kermit The Frog not landing with me the way that he does for millions of others?  I like The Muppets... I really do... but I don't love them and I can't explain why that is the case.  What the hell is wrong with me?

Alright, this is starting to get way farther into self-psychoanalysis than any post about the drive-in should ever get.  Moving on...

While we were waiting in line to pull into the lot, our friend Kate surprised my wife and I with these two puppets that she made especially for us.  Angie named her puppet Zenni, and I named mine Bernie.  I'm not sure if my wife has a character in mind for her little fuzzy friend, but Bernie's story came to me in about 90 seconds.  He's a grouchy old man from Conshohocken (which I am now singing in my head to the tune of The Little Old Lady From Pasadena by The Beach Boys).  He is obsessed with bagels and he dismissively refers to all people as "human".  The takeaway here is that if you give me an outlet to express something creative, I'm going to make it weird.  It's just what I do.

By the way, the grouchy look on my face was meant to be me expressing the personality that I created for Bernie.  I was in no way grouchy.  To the contrary, I was very touched that Kate thought enough of us to take the time to make them and give them to us.

The special food item for the show was Mahna-Mah-Nachos, which are Rico's Nachos topped with seasoned ground beef.  Luckily for me, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday are my "meat days" while I'm transitioning to a plant-based diet, so I was able to enjoy a tray of them.

It was drizzling before the start of The Muppet Movie, and the rain started coming down a bit heavier as the movie began, so we put the camping chairs back in the trunk and watched it from the car.  It really is a very good movie with a lot of funny moments, so please don't misunderstand what I wrote earlier.  It's not that I don't enjoy or appreciate this film... it's just that I don't seem to be capable of having the same experience with it that I see in so many others, and it bothers me a little bit.  Maybe I'm just over-thinking it.  I tend to do that sometimes.  Arrgh, there I go again self-psychoanalyzing!

The rain stopped entirely about a half hour before the end of The Muppet Movie.  After the credits rolled, everyone gathered together to the stage outside of the concession building and sang Rainbow Connection.

We headed home during intermission.  It's not something that we usually do, but Angie really doesn't like the 2011 Muppets movie.  I don't think I've ever seen it, but if I had, I've forgotten what it's about.  I felt kind of bad leaving early, but on the drive home, Angie said something that put my mind at ease.  I'm not sure exactly how she worded it, but the jist of it was that it was her dream come true to see The Muppet Movie at the drive-in and then capping the night off with the Rainbow Connection sing-along, so seeing a movie at the end of the night that she just doesn't like very much would only hurt the memory of this experience.  I totally get that.  Kermit put it best.. life's like a movie... write your own ending.