Sep 6, 2013

[Movies] Meet the Feebles (1989)

Tobie has a weird collection of movies. Thus on odd days we dig through what he has and end up with some rather strange movie choices.

Case in point is Meet the Feebles, which is most surprising because it's actually a Peter Jackson movie. Before he hit it big with global geek audiences with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, he was making black comedies like this one and Bad Taste, apparently.

It's hard to describe what this movie is, precisely, although I'll do my best to do so in the synopsis section of this review. And you can't quite blame me - we have a mix of Muppet-style puppet animals, people in even bigger animal costumes in a rather harsh reality type of story which is very adult in tone. Don't let the puppets fool you - this is a movie that is strictly for adults or older teenagers than handle depictions of sex between puppets.

It's a very strange movie indeed.

Synopsis: Meet the Feebles is a 1989 black comedy directed by Peter Jackson. He also co-wrote the screenplay together with Fran Walsh, Stephen Sinclair, and Danny Mulheron.

The Feebles are very much like the Muppets in the sense that they are an ensemble act that puts on live shows. For all purposes in the movie, they are as real as any other people, although perhaps even moreso. The star of the show is Heidi (Mark Hadlow / Danny Mulheron), a rather massive hippo, although she becomes upset once she's insulted by Trevor (Brian Sergent) the Rat. She runs to complain to Bletch (Peter Vere-Jones) the Walrus, who is both her boss and her lover. But she is unaware that he is no longer attracted to her and is carrying on an affair with Samantha (Donna Akersten) the Cat.

Another main story involves Robert (Mark Hadlow) the Hedgehog, who has just joined the cast and is excited to break into the world of acting. There he quickly falls in love with a poodle named Lucille, although he's too shy to get anywhere near her. Eventually he does manage to muster up the courage, but of course things will still get more complicated. Other stories involve Trevor's side business making pornography , a drug running scheme within the group and Harry the Rabbit being convinced by his doctor that he has some incurable sexually transmitted disease.

The movie has a rather dark tone, which is just as well given its very adult subject matter. Don't expect a lot of kiddie style fun and games - that's just what the Feebles do for a living. Otherwise, they're as human as you an me, although perhaps coming from a more negative end of the spectrum. Thus you end up seeing this puppets fornicating, doing drugs, and all sorts of other crazy things all within the theater grounds. It's rather crazy at times, quite frankly.

The movie has some major pacing issues and it never seems to stop throwing scenes at you. There are hardly any breaks from moment to moment and thus you just have to ride through the movie as best as you can. But this means dealing with an S&M porn scene, a rabbit becoming more and more disgusting as a disease takes hold and the odd flashback to a simpler time. It's rather slapdash storytelling and it's hard to see how anyone could have thought that this story could have truly made sense in a linear sense.

And while there are some interesting shot choices that do make you think of Peter Jackson's later movies, it's hard to appreciate that aspect when you have to deal with the Feebles doing all sorts of nasty things to one another, with one another and, at one another. It's rather disturbing more often than not, but then that's black comedy for you.

I didn't totally hate the movie, but it's hard to find something that you can really like. The characters are rather deplorable and only Robert is halfway decent, although you know he was just put there for contrast. He doesn't exactly come out of things all squeaky clean, but then neither do you as a member of the audience watching this movie. You walk away feeling rather slimy for the experience of having experienced that movie.

Meet the Feebles is a dark, dark black comedy with the occasional reason to laugh but more reasons to cringe and want to look away from the screen. I am okay with having seen it once in my life, but that's more than enough for now. Still, the movie will still rate 2 criminal transactions within the Feebles theater out of a possible 5.

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