I’ve been meaning to share this forever, and yet it continued to be pushed to the back burner. As if there’s anything more important going on? A few years ago, a movie was released that changed the landscape of “Muppet Movies” forever. Taken to a whole new production level, this modern take on the community known as “The Muppets” was instantly a hit in my book. Even with the acknowledgement of drama between the production and Frank Oz (missed him, for sure).
But one of the significant tragedies that happened concerns a major plot element that is never actually revealed in the movie!
The “evil villain” in this movie features “Tex Richman”, an oil baron with an axe to grind against The Muppets. He wants to exploit the land Muppet Studios is located on, and shows visible contempt for Kermit and his pals. But what we never hear in the movie itself is WHY Tex Richman dislikes the Muppets. We get a small hint, as he goes off with his odd way of celebrating something he thinks is funny. He doesn’t laugh, but rather says the words, “Maniacal Laugh!!” over and over again, in an evil-sounding voice.
Thankfully, my family and I knew the back-story. Not because we knew Tex Richman personally, but simply because we’d purchased “The Muppets” soundtrack way before the movie was released. There’s a song within the movie where Tex Richman introduces himself. It’s pretty entertaining, and has a catchy tune you’ll want to sing along. But in the movie itself, an important part of the song is missing – the musical interlude where Tex gives a heartbreaking story that happened to him as a boy. The story is sung as follows:
“I recall a heart breaking story
About my own 10th birthday party
Should’ve been glorious day for me
I’d have been happy as can be
But the Muppets were there to put on a show
They started to dance they were telling their jokes
I didn’t laugh…
I didn’t know how…
Then my friends they all turned around
And they laughed at me…
They laughed at me…
And I hate you Muppets so”
Especially in a heart-breaking operatic tone, one can’t help but be sympathetic to Mr.Richman, and want terribly to find the redemptive moment in the movie where, inspired by the heart of Kermit, he’s given a chance to laugh. Unfortunately, this peek into his childhood is covered up in the film. Buried under what remains to be a solid bit of rich entertainment, the story is only known by those who have listened to the soundtrack.
But it begs the question: Will Tex Richman ever learn to laugh? Will Kermit and his Rainbow Connection be powerful enough to conquer the walls that have been built up over the years of this hardened heart? Or will he be forced to chant “maniacal laugh!!!” for the remainder of his days?
I sincerely hope that at some point in a future movie, we will all get a chance to learn what has become of this boy who became a man who never knew the joy of laughter. Until then, every Muppet movie that continues to be made, although it will make me smile and laugh, will in a small way simply be avoiding the issue. This is a public plea for Kermit and his friends to face the issue honestly, and show Tex Richman what a life lived with laughter can be like.