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Film / Meet the Feebles

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This is a family show, for Christ's sake!

Meet the Feebles, a 1989 musical comedy directed by Peter Jackson (yes, that Peter Jackson), is basically the cast of the The Muppets reimagined as depraved, coked-out lunatics. It's set in a world where everyone (with one exception, the contortionist Abi) is some sort of animal, anthropomorphized to varying degrees, and of different sizes, from the size of a small fish to a giant sea creature. The smaller characters are portrayed by puppets, but the larger characters are portrayed by people in costumes.

The story revolves around a Show Within a Show, the Fabulous Feebles Variety Hour. It starts 12 hours before the show is planned to go live, but the actors in the show all have problems of their own. For example, Heidi wonders if Bletch is cheating on her, Bletch needs to get a drug deal through, Harry's been diagnosed with The Big One and doctors say he has hours to live, Robert needs to get the girl of his dreams Lucille, Sid needs to train a new batch of creatures after his old batch is run over by a barrel (and deal with a paternity suit), Wynyard needs to get his Heroin fix, Trevor needs to find new people for the porno he's been filming, and Abi literally needs to get his head out of his ass. All without a single F-bomb dropped onscreen.

And the only problem Kermit had was with being green...

The madness eventually ends in a surprise ending, but in the trailer, it said "Please, don't tell your friends how it all comes out in the end", despite the fact that the preview already shows the surprise ending, and all the viewer needs to do is connect the dots. (Plus, the cover hints at the surprise ending and the cover of the soundtrack album is an actual screencap of the ending.)

WARNING: Once you have met the Feebles, you will never be able to watch The Muppet Show the same way again. Also, do NOT confuse it with Meet the Parents sequel Meet the Fockers.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abominable Auditorium: Set in a seriously seedy, run-down variety theatre, suiting its nature as a dark parody of The Muppet Show perfectly.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Sebastian, for all his jerkassery and prima donna attitude, is nowhere near as cruel as Bletch and Trevor.
  • All Part of the Show: When a drugged-up Wynyard accidentally kills himself with a knife during his knife-throwing stunt, the audience thinks it's just part of the show. Still, they run out screaming when Heidi bursts through the curtains on a swing with a machine gun.
  • Anyone Can Die: Pretty much 95% of the cast dies by the time the movie ends.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: The Borax that Mr. Big sent Mr. Bletch as an attempt to kill him off. It even melted the dealer who ingested a load of it.
  • Asshole Victim: The Fly in the Sky and Samantha the Cat by Mr. Bletch and Heidi Hippo respectively.
  • Ass Shove: Abi the Indian contortionist accidentally gets his own head shoved up his rectum during rehearsal. When he finally gets it out, it's crushed by a bed of nails.
  • Big Eater: Heidi is a compulsive eater, which leads to her botching her rehearsal performance of "Garden of Love".
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: With the exceptions of Arthur, Robert, and Lucille, basically everyone in the cast range from Jerkasses, to drug abusers and perverts, to borderline criminals.
  • Bond One-Liner: Mr. Bletch and Trevor swap Bond One-Liners as Bletch tortures and kills F.W. Fly.
    Trevor: Well, what do you know, Boss? A left-wing reporter!
    Bletch: We can't have a biased press, can we Trevor?
    Trevor: No, boss.
    Bletch: Now that's what I call an impartial journalist!
    • Also:
    Heidi, to Samantha: Eat lead, you man-stealing slut!!!
  • Broken Hippo: Heidi, thanks to Bletch's mistreatment of her.
  • The Cameo: If you look closely, you'll notice a few aliens from Bad Taste in the audience.
  • Camp Gay: Sebastian, and the doctor's voice and mannerisms (a Paul Lynde impression) suggest he is one as well.
  • Cats Are Mean: Samantha, Bletch's mistress, is pretty much every negative cat stereotype incarnate.
  • Contortionist: Abi, who is a send up to the Rubber Men.
  • Cool Old Guy: Arthur the Worm is up there in years, and one of the few genuinely decent and kind characters in the film.
  • Dark Parody: An extremely depraved and very not kid-friendly parody of The Muppet Show.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Sebastian doesn't do anything actually evil, but he's a Jerkass towards the cast (though this is probably just because he's a director) and he must have known full well that a family variety show wasn't an appropriate place for that particular song.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: Pretty much everyone in the show's cast has some serious vices and very not-kid-friendly problems offstage, be it Harry the MC's addiction to sex, Wynyard's smack addiction and Vietnam PTSD, or Sidney's paternity suit. On top of that, the manager is a full-blown criminal who deals with drug pushers, has a cabinet full of heavy weaponry, and cheats on his girlfriend, and the show's director has his heart set on a big show-stopping number about the joys of sodomy.
  • Dirty Coward: Sebastian. The only non-nice guy to survive, only does so because he ducks into Harry's giant carrot during Heidi's rampage. He still ends up losing an eye though. And wrote a best-selling autobiography that painted him as a hero.
    • Wynyard, because of how he abandoned the commander frog, who previously rescued Wynyard from enemy soldiers.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Robert interrupts the rehearsal of one skit with suggestions. Sebastian responds by making him Wynyard's new knife-throwing assistant, minutes after Wynyard killed his old one.
  • Driven to Suicide: Heidi, right after Mr. Bletch tossed her aside for Samantha. But then Heidi changes her mind after Samantha walks in and taunts her during a suicide attempt.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Other than Robert, Lucille, and Arthur, we have Heidi, a depressed Hippo with an eating disorder, Sidney, an elephant caught up in a paternity lawsuit, Harry, a hare with a sex addiction, Wynard, a smack addicted Vietnam vet, Bletch, a full-blown criminal who cheats on his girlfriend, and that's just scratching the surface.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: As seen in the ending montage, the few remaining characters get happy endings, and they had to put up with bullying and narrowly avoiding death in Heidi's massacre to get there.
  • Easily Forgiven: Heidi only served ten years for murdering almost all of her fellow Feebles.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Robert enunciates his "R"s as "W"s, which leads to Trevor mocking him by calling him "Wobert".
  • Establishing Series Moment: Sure, the opening starts like a parody of the Muppets should- but Trevor quickly dispels that facade when he shouts and swears at the cast.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being a crookish manager, even Bletch thinks that Sebastian's infamous song is not the right place for a kid's show, and he’s pretty horrified when Harry vomits all over the stage and when Wynyard accidentally kills himself.
  • Everybody Owns a Morris Minor: Which had been out of production for almost 20 years when the film was made.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Bletch's goons versus Cedric's gang.
  • Expy:
    • Heidi is clearly intended to be one of Miss Piggy, she vaguely resembles her and is the "boss" of the show's girlfriend (or at least was). On the flipside, despite being the "boss" of the show, Bletch doesn't have anything in common with Kermit.
    • Some believe Sidney to be one of Gonzo, as they're both blue, have long noses and in a relationship with a chicken.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Heidi temporarily turns into a killing monster after suffering a Heroic BSoD. She attempts to kill everybody in the movie, whether they deserved to die or not. While she kills several cast members who arguably did deserve death, she also murders several characters who are as far as we know, innocent. She eventually comes to her senses during the end of her killing spree.
  • Fan Disservice: The sex scenes would still be trashy and unappealing even if they weren't shot with puppets.
  • Fat Bastard: Bletch; pretty much a given since he's a crooked walrus. Sid the elephant subverts it by running to the rescue of his infant child at the cost of his kneecaps.
  • Final Girl: Of the surviving characters, Lucille and Robert are the one who play the trope most straight.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Bletch tests the "cocaine" Mr. Big sold him this way, after Dennis already snorted a line and his nose melted off. Then declared it to be Borax.
  • Flashback One to when Heidi and Mr. Bletch met, and one to Wynyard's experience in the Vietnam War.
  • Furry Reminder: One of the film's many ways to shock the audience is by having its Funny Animal characters do things that their real animal counterparts do - such as Mr. Bletch (a walrus) eating a fish character, F.W. Fly (a fly) eating crap out of a toilet (on top of that, Harry tries to kill him with bug spray), Trevor the Rat gobbling up the corpses of Sidney the Elephant's dead pets, Sandy the chicken continuing to move and speak after losing her head, and Robert (a hedgehog) curling up in a ball when he's feeling shy.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Cedric's mooks are large anthropomorphic crabs.
  • Giant Spider: One appears during the showdown between Bletch and Cedric's gangs, killing one of Bletch's goons.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: Heidi, who takes the heavy machine gun she was going to kill herself with and goes on a bloody massacre.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: A double case of this trope. Despite being on opposing sides of a gang war, Bletch, Trevor, Barry, Cedric, and Louie all go play golf sometime before their showdown.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Arthur and Bletch provide an amusing contrast during the scene where they share some cigars.
  • Hate Sink: You're clearly not supposed to like Bletch, Trevor, Samantha or Sebastian. You're also not gonna feel sorry when all but one of them is horribly murdered.
  • Heroic BSoD: Heidi, after Mr. Bletch cruelly fires her from the Feebles in favor of his mistress, Samantha. Heidi even tries killing herself, first with a noose and then with one of Bletch's heavy machine guns... but then Samantha comes in and mocks her while she's in possession of a loaded machine gun...
  • Hope Spot: Twice. Once, when Harry realizes he's been misdiagnosed, is happy to be alive, and gets gunned down by Heidi moments later. Second, it looks like Heidi might stop massacring people when she sees Seymour being dragged away by Sandy, only to shoot Sandy's head off and leave Seymour splattered with his mother's blood.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action:
    • Bletch the walrus is several times larger than his mistress Samantha Cat.
    • Initially, Trevor is seen shooting a BDSM porn flick starring two actors known as the Masked Masochist and Madam Bovine. After Robert walks in and ruins the shot, Madam Bovine sits on the Masochist, killing him. The Masochist was a weta (a type of insect).
    • Sidney and Sandy — an elephant and a chicken, respectively — managed to have a kid, for all Sidney's protests that he's not the father.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Of all the lines this film happily crosses, killing off baby Seymour is not one of them.
  • Irony: It turns out that Heidi snapping and massacring most of the cast ends up giving a select few characters their happy endings: Sidney, seeing Seymour in deadly peril, comes to his aid at the cost of his kneecaps and accepts him as his son; Robert and Lucille reconcile and later get married; Sebastian escapes being killed by Bletch and Trevor as punishment for his musical number and even becomes rich and famous, and Heidi herself, while a murderer, is finally free of Bletch and is rehabilitated in prison.
  • Karma Houdini: Sebastian, (especially since a lot of much less Jerkassy characters get slaughtered in the finale). However Sebastian is seen in an eyepatch which implies he lost an eye while trying to escape the rampage.
    • Ironically, after Sebastian performs his big number, Bletch orders Trevor to kill him, but Heidi's rampage makes that impossible.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Wynyard has a knife-throwing act, but has a terrible case of the shakes. The result is just as bad as you think.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Abi over his bed of nails when Sebastian starts yelling at him to get on stage. He falls and hurts himself a bit kind of foreshadowing his later death on the nails when threatened with firing.
  • Large and in Charge: Mr. Bletch manages the Feebles acting troupe, and is one of the biggest characters in the film. Furthermore, there's the aptly-named crime boss Mr. Big, who is some kind of whale.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Harry, whose obsession with sex is what leads to his disease.
  • Love at First Sight: Robert is smitten with Lucille as soon as he first lays eyes on her.
  • Messy Pig: Cedric. He's a Violent Glaswegian drug-trafficking punk boar, so any business you have with him is bound to be messy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Right after killing Bletch, Heidi snaps out of her state feels guilty of what she's done to everyone.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Robert, predicting Walter by a whopping 22 years.
  • National Stereotypes: The only German in the movie sells cakes and pastries, and Abi, an Indian, is into mysticism and contortion. Let's not get into the Vietnamese... things in Wynard's flashback.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Trevor's voice is an obvious Peter Lorre parody. And a good one, at that!
    • It's also worth noting that, intentional or otherwise, Trevor is much closer to the menacing villains Lorre often played than most Peter Lorre parodies.
      • Wynyard's voice is heavily based on that of Reverend Jim Ignatowski, Christopher Lloyd's character on Taxi.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: While he still has some cartoony features (on top of being a Funny Animal), Trevor is much more realistic looking than most of the other puppets, which makes him even creepier. And then there's F.W. Fly, whose mouth is the only cartoonish thing about him - he looks just like a real fly, only larger and somehow even more disgusting.
  • Off with His Head!: Barry gets his head bitten off by the giant spider. During Heidi's rampage at the end, both Sandy and Harry get their heads blown off.
  • Only One Name: No one has a last name, except for maybe F.W. Fly.
  • Paparazzi: The reporter fly that is constantly harassing Harry because of his disease.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: Although there are porn titles mentioned, none of them spoof actual movie titles. There is a genuine example, although not with a movie title: Bletch hopes to win the "Hooker Prize", a takeoff on the Booker Prize.
  • Patchwork Kids: Sidney and Sandy's baby, Seymour, has an elephant's head and a chicken's body. When Arthur sees Seymour for the first time, he comments to Sidney that "it's got [Sidney's] eyes".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Bletch and Trevor murder the Fly in the Sky in a brutal, sadistic manner, ripping his wings off one after the other before flushing him down the toilet. If the Fly hadn't been such a pesky, invasive Jerkass, the audience might have felt sorry for him.
  • Pet the Dog: While Mr. Bletch mistreats Heidi, he treats Arthur with a fair amount of respect and even offers him a seat next to him and a cigar during the premiere of the show.
  • Prima Donna Director: Sebastian, who is very demanding and difficult to please, especially with the stress of all of the stacking disasters and combined with the fact that they'll be going on-air that night piling up on him.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Subverted to hell and back. Aside from Robert, Lucille, Arthur and — arguably — Seymour, nearly all the animals in this movie are or eventually become ugly, disease ridden, rotten or just generally unpleasant.
  • R-Rated Opening: The opening number contains nothing that would be objectionable to any parents who mistakenly rented this for their kids, other than the line "Samantha the pussy will show you some action" (Samantha's a cat, but the audience doesn't know this yet), which is easily missed anyway. But as soon as it's over, Trevor (who is smoking a cigarette, at that) tells Heidi "Alright, you fat slag, move yer ass!" And if that wasn't enough to scare parents away, we're then treated to the sight of Mr. Bletch and Samantha having sex.
  • Russian Roulette: What reference to The Deer Hunter would be complete without it? Wynyard and his commander were forced to play it in 'Nam when they were captured by the VC beavers.
  • Serenade Your Lover: At Arthur's suggestion, Robert confesses his feelings for Lucille by singing her a song with her name in the lyrics. It's one of the sweetest and least disturbing moments in the film.
  • Sex Signals Death: Sort of played straight with Bletch, Samantha, Harry and Dennis. Sebastian, who only sings about sex, survives.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Wynyard really didn't deal well with his experiences in 'Nam.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Jesus on a crucifix in this movie looks like Kermit the Frog. Since the whole thing is a Muppets parody, it might as well have been intentional.
    • Wynyard's Vietnam flashback begins by spoofing Full Metal Jacket's urban combat scene, and then goes on to the Russian Roulette scene from The Deer Hunter.
    • When F.W. Fly is being tortured by Mr. Bletch, he cries out "Heeeelp meeeee!".
  • Show Within a Show: Much of the film is dedicated to what goes on behind the scenes of The Fabulous Feebles Variety Hour, and we see quite a bit of the show itself.
  • Significant Monogram: The fly reporter's name is F.W. Fly. What do his initials stand for? Well, consider that he's a literal fly on the wall.
  • Skewed Priorities: After all the deaths and injuries during the rehearsal, Sebastian's only concern is that the show is now low on actors so he now has a chance to reinstate his own musical number.
  • Smug Snake: F.W. Fly, on top of being pesky and invasive, is also very smug and snide. When he finds out that Harry has caught "The Big One", he's beyond excited at the chance of getting a great scoop and is positively giddy and completely unsympathetic as he prods Harry for info, even mocking his impending death. F.W. does end up getting his big story to the presses, but when Mr. Bletch and Trevor find out, it winds up costing him his life.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Sebastian finally gets his big musical number—as Heidi guns down damn near everybody else. And the film ends with Heidi performing "Garden of Love" on stage one last time, with the set in shambles and Bletch's and Trevor's mutilated corpses surrounding her.
  • Stunned Silence: The audience's reaction to Sebastian's big number. He still bows.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: And how!
  • Swallowed Whole: Bletch eats a tone-deaf fish who tried to get in to the show, vomiting him half-digested but still alive at the golf course. Then Mr. Big swallows Bletch, Trevor, and their car, only for them to drive out through his anus, killing him in the process.
  • Talking Animal: Most animals are anthro, but several, such as the fish, are basically talking animals.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Myxomatosis is treated as this in-setting—even Doctor Quack only refers to it as "The Big One."
  • Token Human: Abi, the only human character in a cast of animals. He's still a puppet, though.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Samantha the Cat. When she walks in on a desperate, emotionally broken Heidi about to blow her brains out with Bletch's light machinegun, she taunts her and tells her she should take the safety off first. Heidi follows her advice... Then promptly turns Samantha into swiss cheese before going on a rampage.
    • During Heidi's rampage, Bletch is in his box seat, but she doesn't know he's there. Instead of hiding or running somewhere safe, he yells at her to put the gun down. This catches her attention and she shoots him down from the box to the stage, where she eventually finishes him off.
  • Variety Show: The Fabulous Feebles Variety Hour is this, with knife-throwing, opera, musical numbers, skits, and more.
  • Villain Protagonist: Mr. Bletch and Trevor are the film's main antagonists, and a lot of screen time is dedicated to their drug deal and later conflict with a rival gang, making them protagonists too in their own way.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Cedric has this kind of accent, and is a thuggish drug dealer.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Harry puking over the stage when he tries to perform regardless of his illness.
  • Wham Line: "Eat lead, you man-stealing SLUT!" And so begins the bloodbath.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Right before the end credits, we see a montage of what became of the remaining cast members.
  • Wily Walrus: Bletch the Walrus is a slippery drug dealer and an abusive boyfriend.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: With all the bullying she receives from Trevor and even her "lover" Mr. Bletch, it's hard not to feel sorry for Heidi, no matter how many of her victims didn't have it coming.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Trevor, who directs pornos in the basement, deals drugs, and murders, on top of being a literal dirty-looking rat, is pretty much a textbook example. He even gets called such by Robert.
  • You Just Ruined the Shot: At one point Robert interrupts Trevor's aforementioned BDSM porn shoot, which proves disastrous when the cow accidentally sits on the cockroach and kills him. Trevor figures that at least he still might be able to sell it as a snuff movie.
  • Your Head Asplode: Just when Harry finds out that he's not going to die after all and is celebrating, Heidi shows up and riddles him with bullets, blowing the top half of his head off.