I think I’ve said this before, but as I see it, one of the great things about fan sites like this one is that we can devote many, many words to minute subjects that most people in the world would not care about.  So today I want to talk about Fozzie’s head.  But just so we’re clear, this is not another April Fools’ Day bear joke.

You’ve seen The Muppets, right?  Of course you have.  By now, you should have seen it no fewer than 83 times.  Well, there’s this one thing that happens that I’ve been questioning and struggling with ever since we started discussing the movie on the Tough Pigs forum, and I want to mention it here.

So, the Muppets are doing their telethon to raise $10 million to save the theater, and after a slow start with no one in the audience, they’ve gradually managed to rake in tons of dough.  They’ve gone from not being able to find a single celebrity willing to appear on the show to getting dozens of celebrities to show up out of nowhere and help answer phones.  And people who had no idea the telethon was on the air are spontaneously changing the channel to CDE between 11:00 PM and midnight to watch the show and pledge their money to the Muppets.

All of this I’m totally cool with, because there’s nothing ambiguous about it.  But then Tex Richman, furious at being denied a nomination for a Best Hip-Hop Artist Grammy and determined to take possession of the Muppet Theater, makes one last desperate play: With less than a minute until the telethon ends and the Standard Rich and Famous Contract expires, he knocks down the telephone pole behind the theater, disrupting the phone service so the pledge money stops coming in.  When the tote board stops counting, it looks like this:

Oh, man!  Nine million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine dollars!  They were just one dollar away from the ten million necessary to save the theater! (At this point, I expected Hobo Joe to donate a dollar and save the day, but I guess that kind of deus ex hobo would have been lazy writing.)  Fozzie is despondent… “But we were so close!” he wails, and bangs his head on the tote board with a depth of despair that only a bear comedian can ever truly know. Then this happens:

After being jolted, the display flickers, then it drops from $9,999,999 to $99,999.99!  “I feel a lot better, actually,” says Fozzie.  “I mean, we weren’t even close at all!”

And then I guffawed in the theater.  Because here’s what I was thinking: Silly Fozzie!  He hit his head on the thing, and it made it show the wrong amount, but he’s actually happy about it because he thinks it means their failure was not,in fact, frustratingly close to a victory!  Ha ha!

But apparently some people had a different interpretation of that scene.  They thought it was funny, too, but they saw it like this: Silly Muppets! All this time they thought they had made millions of dollars, but really they only had tens of thousands of dollars, and it was only when Fozzie hit his head on the thing that they saw the right amount and realized the truth!

When I read this take on the scene, I wasn’t sure what to think.  Which was it? The basic question is this: When Fozzie banged his head on the telethon tote board, did he cause the correct amount to display incorrectly, or did he cause the incorrect amount to display correctly? I was hoping the Blu-ray commentary with Jason Segel, Nick Stoller, and James Bobin would shed some light on this, but they were suspiciously mum on the subject… Almost as if they didn’t want me to know.  I smell a conspiracy.

It’s certainly more plausible for a funny little telethon with stuff like head bowling and a guy with no visible nose whistling to earn just under $100,000 than millions.  But this movie isn’t exactly obsessed with being plausible… I hope I’m not ruining anything for anyone, but Crazy Harry’s face isn’t really on Mount Rushmore. And when you stop to think about how real-life television audiences would respond to seeing chickens sing “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green, it becomes absolutely clear that nine million dollars is completely realistic.

Then again, $99,999.99 is the same number of nines as $9,999,999, so maybe the decimal point was in the wrong place.

What do you think?  I’ve started a poll on the Tough Pigs forum — click here to let your voice be heard!  I want to know if I was in the minority with my interpretation.

Click here to do some head-banging on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com

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