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Film / Kermit's Swamp Years

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Kermit's Swamp Years is a 2002 Direct-to-DVD movie that serves as a prequel of sorts to The Muppet Movie, following Kermit's years of living in the swamp in Mississippi before he decided to travel to Hollywood.

It opens in the present day with Kermit moving right along on his motor-scooter to visit his old family in the swamp, and then he starts to narrate his tale to the audience of one particular adventure he got involved in when he was only a boy. He had two playmates, Goggles, a nervous, cowardly toad with glasses, and Croaker, a smooth, confident frog. Said adventure involved a confrontation with two human frog hunters, Goggles getting frog-napped, a dog named Pilgrim, and an ordeal through a pet shop, through downtown, and climaxing in a high school classroom where they dissect frogs!

It is produced by Columbia-TriStar Home Entertainment and Jim Henson Home Entertainment. Even though it is not as popular as most of the other Muppet films, it contains various mythology gags and nods to Jim Henson's legacy.

This movie contains the following tropes:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal:
    • Much like his adult counterpart, Kermit's only article of clothing is a green collar around his neck.
    • Goggles' only article of clothing is a pair of glasses.
  • Advertised Extra: Arnie only has one scene in the film (where he explains that animals should never talk to humans), and yet he's featured on the cover of most video releases.
  • Alter Kocker: The two turtles in the pet shop.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: A pair of turtles in the pet store.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Considering this movie is supposed to detail Kermit's youth, the movie, ideally, would take place no earlier than the early 50s... however, a lot of Croaker's dialogue consists of slang and terminology that was far more common of The '90s and Turn of the Millennium ("Boy, do I have issues!", "I'm not worried, I'm psyched!").
    • Similarly, when we arrive at George Washington High School, the students are clearly working from modern-day, full-colored text books, and are seen wearing or rolling backpacks, when they would more than likely have books that look like small, jacketless, hardback books bounded together with leather straps.
    • Touch-tone phones are seen throughout the movie, however, those weren't invented until The '60s, they would have been rotary phones.
    • Wilson's Pet Shop is full of modern-day pet food, pet bedding, and pet accessory brands. Not only that, but Wilson listens to Bachman Turner Overdrive's, "Roll On Down the Highway," on the radio, which was released in 1975 (the band itself formed in 1973). Wilson also observes Blotch attacking Goggles and remarks, "You two should be on the Nature Channel!" which certainly wouldn't have existed in the mid 50s.
    • Come to think of it, the movie appears to have taken place more or less in The '70s, rather than The '50s, and that too would have been anachronistic, considering not only did The Muppet Show - hosted by Kermit - premiered in 1976, but Kermit was already appearing regularly on Sesame Street in 1969, and even making appearances with other Muppet characters on The Ed Sullivan Show throughout The '60s.
    • A young boy appears who is implied to be a young Jim Henson. Henson was born in 1936 and the boy appears to be about 12-13 years old, which suggests the film may take place no later than about 1950.
    • The film shown at the movie theater, advertised as Swords of Fire, is actually The Black Arrow, released in 1948.
  • Audience Shift: Unlike most of the Muppet films, shows, and TV specials, this film is more obviously aimed at children, with very little for adults to appreciate (well...besides, maybe, the nods to the original Muppet Movie).
  • Balloonacy: Kermit, at one point, gets the idea to search for Blotch and Goggles by using a bunch of balloons to lift him into the air and give him a better look at his surroundings to see if he can spot them.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Consists of Dr. Krassman and Mary as a Big Bad Duumvirate, and Wilson as a separate villain. That Big Bad Ensemble thing turned out to be a big mistake, as Wilson is working ''for'' Dr. Krassman to bring the frogs to him.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: It is how Kermit, his best friends, and the frogs fight Krassman.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Wilson was at first the friendly and cheerful pet shop owner, but his real job is to lead Dr. Krassman to all the frogs.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Really more sweet than bitter: Krassman gets arrested for his crimes, Mary reunites with Wilson, Goggles and Blotch are saved, and the frogs go back to the swamp. Pilgrim decides to move in with Kermit, but she chooses to stay with Wilson. At the end of the film, the adult Kermit reveals that he's still friends with Croaker, Goggles, Blotch and Pilgrim, and was on his way back to the swamp to meet them again.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Horace D'Fly flying around and singing.
  • Buddy Picture
  • Butt-Monkey: Dr. Krassman is a scaredy cat who has Amusing Injuries. His main injuries are during the film's Final Battle.
  • Call-Forward: After being terrorised by a (real, non-Muppet) pig, Kermit hopes he'll never meet one of those again...
  • The Cameo:
    • Animal is seen as a key chain ornament in the red truck that carries Goggles to the pet shop.
    • Statler and Waldorf are seen in the movie theater as younger versions of themselves, and note how generous it was for the director to allow them a cameo in the movie!
      Statler: So people could see how young we look?
      Waldorf: No, so we wouldn't have to watch it!
    • Miss Piggy's dog Foo-Foo is seen in the pet store during "Life as a Pet", as is the Dog from the 1986 Henson special Tale of the Bunny Picnic.
    • Almost happened but Averted: Rowlf, Baskerville, and Sprocket appeared at Wilson's Pet Store in a scene that was either never filmed, or filmed but cut from the final product.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Kermit wallops Dr. Krassman using tips he observed from a film. "What is this?! A movie?!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mary, Krassman's assistant. For instance, she claims to have wanted to be a scientist ever since reading The Wizard of Oz as a child. Krassman points out that the book has very little to do with science.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Dr. Krassman phones Wilson's Pet Store for frogs for his class at George Washington High School. Goggles only hears "George Washington" and assumes he's their new owner.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Arnie the Alligator, who in The Muppet Movie appeared as an animatronic, non-speaking, naturalistic-looking robot in the opening scene, here appears as a more traditional Muppet who can speak! He was on good terms with Kermit back then too.
    • Kermit is inspired by an action film while in a movie theater. This is clearly a nod to him remarking how "there's a double feature in town every Saturday" in the original film.
    • Dr. Krassman was named after Mel Brooks' German mad scientist character Professor Krassman from The Muppet Movie.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Played with, after Goggles and Blotch end up at Wilson's Pet Shop. Beforehand, Blotch was a bully who frequently beat up Kermit and his friends, and after he and Goggles are put in a tank with a snake that begins to constrict Blotch, Goggles challenges the snake to constrict him instead. This is because Goggles, being a toad, can use his poison glands for defense. The snake suffers severe itching, and retreats; Blotch asks Goggles why he did that, and when Goggles responds, "I was helping a friend", Blotch is deeply touched and turns over a new leaf.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: When Goggles replies to Blotch's referring to Kermit and his friends as the Soggy Pants Brothers by pointing out that they don't wear pants and presenting his rear at Blotch to prove that they don't, Blotch angrily asks if Goggles just mooned him. Goggles replies that he wasn't mooning, he was just showing him his bare bottom.
  • The Dragon: Wilson is this to Krassman.
  • Duck!: When Blotch is abot to punch Kermit, Goggles, and Croaker, Kermit shouts, "Duck!", and he, Goggles, and Croaker all duck. A distracted Blotch then says, "Duck? I don't see no duck!" before realizing he's been fooled.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Krassman's assistant won't go through dissecting the frogs.
  • The Faceless: Kermit's mother is only seen from the back.
  • Framing Device: The framing device of the film consists of Kermit as an adult telling the audience the story of his youth.
  • Freudian Excuse: Krassman wants to kill frogs because he had to dissect one when he was in high school, but was laughed at by everyone for not going through with it, and for being called crazy for claiming frogs can talk.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: The DVD has an outtake reel.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his past actions as a bully, Blotch shows the good inside of him when he slowly begins to befriend Goggles and later attacks Dr. Krassman to save Kermit.
  • Large Ham: Dr. Krassman is very hammy.
  • Love Interests: Mary's love interest is Wilson.
  • Medium Blending: Horace D'Fly, like Waldo C. Graphic, is a remote-controlled, virtual CG puppet.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A young human boy helps Kermit up from the road so he can continue on his way. The boy watches Kermit walk off-screen, ponders for a moment, and then checks the mailbox. The mailbox reads Henson!
    • During one scene in the film, a boy with a dog visits Wilson's pet shop. The dog's name? Rowlf.
    • After Kermit is chased by a pig, he remarks, "I hope I never have to see another one in my entire life." Oh, Kermit, you will...
    • A postcard in the background of the pet shop reads "Salmon Friends", a take on Sam and Friends, Jim Henson's first show.
    • Another advert seen in the pet shop reads "Goelz Guppies", a nod to original Muppet performer and builder Dave Goelz, best known as Gonzo. Other Henson creative team members referenced include performers Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Steve Whitmire, producer David Lazer, and writer Jerry Juhl.
    • At different points in the movie, Kermit is certain he can hear something out there calling his name—echoing the lyrics of Rainbow Connection ("Have you been half asleep, and have you heard voices?/I've heard them calling my name/Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?/The voice might be one and the same").
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Croaker hides from the pet shop owner at George Washington High School by posing as a trophy.
  • Obviously Evil: Krassman.
  • Prequel: The film is intended as a prequel to The Muppet Movie, focusing on Kermit's youth before he met the rest of the Muppet cast.
  • Present-Day Past: If we are to believe that it's set in The '50s or at latest The '70s then it comes across as this. See Anachronism Stew.
  • Scars are Forever: Croaker is marked with tire tracks when they first leave the swamp and they stay on him throughout the rest of the film.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Frogs have an unwritten rule never to talk to humans. Kermit has no choice but to break it so he and his friends can escape from the classroom and go home. This implies that Kermit is also a liberator among his species- no frog has ever been revealed to be able to talk to any human before this, save for maybe Krassman as a boy, who tried to convince his other classmates and failed. In The Muppet Movie, talking frogs are seen as completely ordinary.
  • Shaking the Rump: The beginning of the Framing Device has Horace D'Fly taunt Kermit by wiggling his rump at him.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't dissect frogs because.... they can talk?! ...In-universe, maybe.
  • Stop Drowning and Stand Up: When Goggles jumps into the water for the first time, he says he's drowning. Kermit then has to remind him that the water's only three inches deep.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Arnie the Alligator reveals he can talk after helping out Kermit and his friends.