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 Pictures 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Big Bad: Blotch, before an act of kindness breaks him. See Defeat Means Friendship.
- Book-Ends: The film begins and ends with Horace D'Fly flying around and singing.
- Call-Forward: After being terrorised by a (real, non-Muppet) pig, Kermit hopes he'll never meet one of those again...
- 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!
- Chekhov's Skill: Kermit wallops Dr. Kraussman using tips he observed from a film. "What is this?! A movie?!"
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mary, Karussman's assistant.
- Comically Missing the Point: Dr. Kraussman 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:
- Ernie 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 matinee downtown every Sunday" in the original film.
- Dr. Kraussman was named after Mel Brooks' German mad scientist character Professor Kraussman 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.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Kraussman's assistant won't go through dissecting the frogs.
- Freudian Excuse: Kraussman 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.
- The Faceless: Kermit's mother.
- Hilarious Outtakes
- Large Ham: Dr. Kraussman.
- Medium Blending: Horace D'Fly, like Waldo S. 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!
- 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 for Gonzo.
- At different points in the movie, Kermit is certain he can hear something out there calling his name—echoing the lyrics of Rainbow Connection.
- Obviously Evil: Kraussman.
- Prequel: To The Muppet Movie.
- 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 Kraussman as a boy, who tried to convince his other classmates and failed. In The Muppet Movie, talking frogs are seen as completely ordinary.
- Space Whale Aesop: Don't dissect frogs because.... they can talk?! ...In-universe, maybe.
- Suddenly Voiced: Arnie the Alligator.