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Tuesday
Jun152010

Weinsteins, don't frak with Fraggle Rock!

Just when I thought Fraggle Rock might be safe from silly creatures, The Weinstein Company pulls this. According to a blog post from writer/director Cory Edwards, Weinstein Co. executives have put out an open call for a new scriptwriter to completely rewrite Edwards' finished script and develop a more "edgy" Fraggle Rock. Worse, they did so without contacting him even though he will be responsible for directing the movie. This is not a good situation.

The only overall note coming from the studio is this: "Not edgy enough." "EDGY." That's the note. That's what they are trying to do to the Fraggle Rock movie. EDGE it up! Let me say right now that "edgy" is one of my least favorite words. Since my earliest days in the client video business, "edgy" has been a sign of someone who doesn't know what they want. Not only is "edgy" a nebulous, abstract word that means something different to everyone, but it chases the immediate whims of pop culture. WHAT is edgy?? Faster edits? Rock music for the score? Boober wearing some gangsta bling? I have no idea. What I DO know is that the word "edgy" should not be anywhere near this movie.

What if "Toy Story" was edgy? "Toy Story" can be relevant, sharply written, and fast paced, but it has a genuine heart and sincere characters. Like "Toy Story," Fraggle Rock's success is not only due to it's anti-edginess, but in its absolute DEFIANCE of all that is edgy and trendy and pop in this world. 

I have said repeatedly that I will do my very best to make this Fraggle movie relevant and modern, to compete with everything else out there. But what I will NOT do is sabotage what made the property beloved in the first place.

I completely agree with his take on the word "edgy." Do we really want Boober getting addicted to painkillers or huffing his laundry detergent? Should Mokey join the Poobah Society and toke up for half the film? Maybe Doc can come back from the dead, or better yet, finally invent something that kills Ned Shimmelfinnie? Perhaps Wembley should rediscover the Mean Genie after drinking some Wonderful Whoopie Water and wish death upon the doozers? There are plenty of terrible directions to take a Fraggle Rock movie. Why must we go there? MTV Movies lists a few more (lame) examples here.

As /Film notes, Edwards' resume (Hoodwinked) doesn't lend us to be 100% confident in his plans for the Fraggles, but his heart seems to be in the right place. In a May 2010 interview with The Muppet Mindset, Edwards appears to have a strong grasp on the core concepts of the show.

I like to say that I am more inspired by the inspiration for the show than the show itself! Does that make sense? Not to worry -- there will be a lot of elements from the TV show in the movie, but what was most important for me was to go back to a lot of those early interviews with Jim Henson and listen to WHY he created Fraggle Rock. What did he want to accomplish? What was the vision? If I stay true to that, then I’m not going to worry about Wembley wearing the exact same shirt or the Trash Heap having the same glasses. All of that is window dressing to the core values of the show. Those core ideas are the important thing to keep focused on. 

Both Brian and Lisa Henson have been very encouraging by saying that I have retained the VOICE of the show and the voice of those original characters. You will definitely recognize the Fraggle Rock you grew up with on the big screen.

This is good news. Jim Hensen was not shy about his goals for Fraggle Rock. The mission of the show was to bring about world peace. Hensen and the team knew this was a crazy goal, but enjoyed the idea. That's why a good portion of Fraggle Rock is about mending differences, understanding other points of view, and realizing that we all have to work together, be you a dog, human, fraggle, doozer, or gorg. I'm glad Edwards has done his research.

Unfortunately, he scares me in the same interview. Namely, when he brings up the "real world."

We’re keeping the Fraggles’ world just that – timeless. The Fraggles are untouched by our human world, and that’s what makes them great impartial observers of us and our silly ways. The human world in the movie is going to be completely current, because we want this to be a commentary on life today, right now. The movie takes satirical jabs at our dependence on technology, our materialism and our self-centeredness. Everything in our world will be very grounded and recognizable, but I am trying to still give the whole thing a general timelessness. My goal is to make a film that people can enjoy ten years from now, and one that still feels relevant.

I'm not so sure the fraggles need to spend time in Outer Space (what they call our world). While the show always had a story from Gobo Fraggle's Uncle Traveling Matt, the fraggles stayed mostly within the Rock. Traveling Matt's videos were mostly comedic and didn't outright criticize the way we live. Aren't there stories to tell inside the world of Fraggle Rock? Do we need to pull the cliche big budget movie idea where we bring fantasy creatures into our modern world? Remember Masters of the Universe? The Neverending Story III (featuring Jack Black)? Howard the Duck? This isn't the 1980s anymore; we have the special effects to make a great fantasy adventure outside of the ghettos of New York City.

Weinstein Company and Cory Edwards, get your acts together and start talking. Edwards' analogy to Toy Story is great. Shoot for that. Just know, if you frak up the Fraggles--a show containing some of my most nostalgic childhood memories--there will be hell to pay.

Now, about The Power of the Dark Crystal...

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