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Meet the Feebles

Meet The Feebles (1989) is a black comedy film by director Peter Jackson. It features Jim Henson-esque puppets in a perverse comic satire. Like Henson's Muppets, the Feebles are animal-figured puppets (though some were people in suits) assembled together as members of a theatre troupe. However, whereas Henson's Muppets characterise the positivity, naïve folly, and innocence in humanity, the Feebles present negativity, vice, and other misanthropic characteristics.

Plot summary

Meet the Feebles tells the story of the Feebles theatre troupe. They are a group of performers who, that night, are going on live network TV. If they are good enough, they will get picked up for a syndicated network show and everyone will get rich. Scenes involving violence, sexually explicit images, drug dealing, back stabbing, date rape, and death (including a snuff film within the film) follow.

Character list

  • Robert (Wobert) (hedgehog) - A new member of the troupe. He has no vices. He falls in love with Lucile. Has a minor speech disorder: He pronounces the letter 'R' as sounding similar to the letter 'W'.
  • Bletch (walrus) - The boss. He acts as producer for the Feebles troupe, runs porn and drug businesses on the side, and is mean as well. He's in a long-term relationship with Heidi while in an adulterous relationship with Samantha but he was killed by Heidi after she shot him in the head.
  • Heidi (hippo) - A singer and dancer, she is the big star of the show. She is in a relationship with Bletch. she has bipolar tendencies and when upset, she overeacts.
  • Lucile (poodle) - Chorus girl who falls in love with Robert after he courts her. At one point, Trevor drugs and attempts to rape her.
  • Trevor (rat) - Bletch's enforcer. Directs pornography and manages the drug business on the side but he was murdered by Heidi.
  • Arthur (worm) - Stage manager. His appearance resembles a book worm. Is an avid cigar smoker.
  • Sebastian (fox) - The homosexual stage director with a penchant for sodomy - including an entire song about it. It is presumed he lost an eye during the film's events since the epilogue for the surviving characters shows him with an eye patch.
  • Wynyard (frog) - Addicted to "every barbiturate known to man". He is a Vietnam veteran who gets flashbacks about the war and throws knives for the show. He accidentally kills himself during his knife throwing performance. He could possibly be a parody of Kermit the Frog, and also the Reverend Jim character portrayed by Christopher Lloyd from the TV series Taxi.
  • Samantha (cat) - A showgirl and Bletch's mistress.
  • Harry (rabbit) - Satyristic MC who contracts "the big one", a fatal STD. It is apparently myxomatosis but Harry later finds out it's just "bunny pox."
  • Fly-in-the-sky (fly) - Stereotypical paparazzo bent on breaking Harry's story. After he publishes it, Bletch and Trevor track him down, rip his wings off and flush him down a toilet.
  • Sidney (Sid) (elephant) - Animal trainer who thinks that he has terrible luck. Though he initially denies being Seymour's father, when Seymour is threatened with death in the slaughter which closes the film, Sid acknowledges him and runs to his rescue.
  • Sandy (chicken) - Has Sid's child out of wedlock. He denies it is his and for this, she is bringing a paternity suit against him.
  • Seymour (hybrid) - The baby of Sidney and Sandy. He is a half elephant and half chicken hybrid.
  • Barry (bulldog) - Bletch's driver and enforcer. After raiding the docks with Bletch and Trevor to gain drugs, a large spider bites his head off.
  • Dennis (either an anteater or aardvark) - After "The Masked Masochist" dies, he is convinced by Trevor to take a part in the porn movie. It looks like semen drips from his nose and he has a penchant for sniffing panties. He dies after sniffing up borax.
  • Abi (human) - The only human character, an Indian snake-charmer and contortionist who physically appears to be a parody of Gandhi. Gets his head stuck in his rectum and when he pulls it out, a bed of nails crushes him.
  • Cedric (wild boar) - A Scottish boar who is part of a large gang, a golfer and tries to double cross Bletch in a drug deal. He is killed when Barry stabs him with a knife.
  • Louie (dog) - Cedric's side-kick who is a stereotypical "mangy mutt". He is killed by being force fed borax by Bletch after finding out the drug trade was a scam.
  • Mr. Big (whale) - Cedric and Louie's boss. Bletch orders Trevor to drive his car through Mr. Big's mouth and they exit out of his anus.
  • Madam Bovine (cow) - Heavily pierced and large-uddered cow who stars in Trevor's porn. She is never seen again after the filming of the porn with Dennis.
  • "The Masked Masochist" (cockroach) - Actor in Trevor's porn. Dies after Madam Bovine unknowingly sits on his face and suffocates him. Trevor feeds his body to a monstruous whale-like creature.
  • Dorothy (dog) - One of the few minor characters of the theater troupe that is given a name. Her name is mentioned by Heidi before the show's debut.
  • Dr. Quack (duck) - Harry's doctor who told Harry about his illness but later told him the truth when he found out what it really was.

The ending sees Heidi go on a shooting spree with an M60 machine gun and killing Samantha, Harry, Sandy, Dorothy, Trevor and Bletch, among other surviving (nameless) members of the troupe. There is a brief epilogue sequence in which the fates of the notable survivors are shown. Sydney underwent surgery on his kneecap injuries and lives as a horticulturist with his son Seymour. Arthur received an OBE for lifelong service to the theatre and retired to the country. Sebastian wrote a book about the film's events which, it is indicated, may be less than accurate, and is currently negotiating the film rights. Robert and Lucile got married, started a family and Robert became a professional photographer for a women's magazine. Heidi spent a decade in a female penitentiary, was rehabilitated into the community and now works under a new identity at a large supermarket.

Sub-plot summaries

The plot follows several interconnected side stories.

The Love Triangle

The movie opens with a distraught Heidi who runs to Bletch after being insulted by Trevor. Bletch is having sex with Samantha, but hides the tryst. Although Bletch is physically disgusted with Heidi, he insincerely comforts her since he needs her talent on the show.

Later outside, Samantha insults Heidi, claiming Bletch really wants Samantha. Distraught, Heidi drowns her sorrows in an entire chocolate cake, as she reminisces about her past romance with Bletch in a black-and-white flashback to her days as a lounge singer. The flatulence from the cake causes Heidi to lay waste to the set during the rehearsal of a feature number. Sebastian lambastes her for overeating and thus destroying the set.

Heidi again rushes to Bletch for emotional affirmation, but he is unable to spare her the sight of Samantha performing oral sex on him. Heidi locks herself in her room and refuses to perform, but relents after Bletch has make-up sex with her.

Heidi's performance secures the Feebles a syndicated series. Shortly afterwards, Heidi attempts to seduce Bletch in his office, but Bletch completely disowns her since Samantha can now be the star of the show. Unfortunately, Bletch is unaware of Heidi's extremely fragile mental state.

Robert and Lucile

Robert shows up for his first day as a cast member, and is accosted by the Fly, who tries to corrupt Robert into informing on the cast.

Arthur rescues Robert and shows him around, where Robert sees Lucile for the first time. Although he is romantically terrified of her at first, he later summons up enough courage to ask her out and they fall in love. Later in the movie, Trevor drugs Lucile (to manipulate her into performing in his pornography films). Robert walks in on the drugging, but misinterprets it as Lucile's decision, and disowns her for being a drunk. They make up later after Robert saves her from Heidi's crazed gun rampage, and eventually get married.

The Big One

Dennis is shown peeping on Harry in a threesome with two female rabbits. Harry feels physically ill after this episode and is accosted by the Fly, who assumes he has an STD and wants to publish the scandal. Dr. Quack diagnoses Harry with "The Big One". After vomiting all over the stage in the live performance, he finally learns that he only has 'bunny pox'. Unfortunately, while rejoicing in the news that "The Big One" won't cause his death, Harry's head is blown apart by Heidi's gunshot rampage. The Fly publishes the scandal in a local tabloid - to the dismay of Bletch, who presumably wants to avoid negative press on the cast. Trevor lures the Fly into the washroom, where Bletch tears his wings off and flushes the Fly down the toilet.

Sexcapades

Trevor is shooting a porn movie in the basement with the Masked Masochist and Madam Bovine. They are interrupted by Robert, who mistakes the scene for torture and tries to save the cow, who in turn accidentally crushes the Masked Masochist. Trevor later replaces him with Dennis (who has a snout resembling male genitalia) to perform 'nasal sex' on Madam Bovine.

Drug Running

Trevor is approached by a sniveling Wynyard looking for his fix, but the drugs haven't been delivered yet. Bletch is later shown on a golf course consummating a deal with Cedric. However, after testing on Dennis, the drugs provided by Cedric turn out to be household borax, infuriating Bletch. Louie (Cedric's agent) is literally liquidated after being force-fed some of the borax by Bletch's henchmen.

Bletch and his cronies venture to the docklands to fight Cedric and his crab-crewmen. Bletch's side prevails after killing Cedric and the crabs, maneuvering past a huge spider, and driving through the insides of Cedric's boss Mr. Big. However, Barry's head is eaten by the spider.

When the drugs finally arrive at the theatre, Wynyard is finally able to get his fix, which puts him into a stupor.

The Show

While the cast performs an opera number, Sebastian lambastes Wobert for not acting his part as an extra on the stage. As punishment, he assigns Robert the task of being Wynyard's assistant, who was just killed by Wynyard's drug-withdrawal knife throwing. He later reluctantly approaches Wynyard, who is still in the throes of withdrawal. Wynyard guilt-trips Robert into giving him money after telling him a horror story about his time in Vietnam (shown as a flashback parody of the movie The Deer Hunter). He eventually gets his fix from Trevor and injects himself into a deep slumber.

The show's acts gradually disintegrate - Heidi nearly destroys the set by botching a swing, the Indian mystic incapacitates himself by contorting his head into his rectum, and Sid's tribble-like pets are crushed by a barrel. Seeing his show in shambles, Sebastian tries to convince Bletch to feature his personal performance, the sexually explicit number 'Sodomy'. This is summarily rejected by Bletch, who physically throws Sebastian out of his office. Sebastian decides to use the number anyway and performs it in front of the live audience, to Bletch's horror.

The Elephant and the Chicken

Sandy accuses Sid of being the father of their chicken-elephant baby, to his dismay and denial. During the live show, Sandy again accosts Sid on stage with the paternity suit. During a later tragic crossfire scene, Sid braves the crazed Heidi's automatic fire to save his baby. His heroism costs the elephant two bloody knee wounds, and he accidentally crushes Sandy's shot-off head after it squawks out one final invective.

The Climax

While the live show is proceeding elsewhere, Heidi attempts suicide by hanging, but her weight breaks the chandelier from the ceiling and she falls through the floor. She makes her way to Bletch's semi-automatic gun and tries to kill herself, but at the last moment, Samantha shows up and taunts her. She responds by pumping Samantha full of lead, then rampages over the entire set. She finally finds Bletch and pumps many rounds into him as well - although she feels terribly guilty doing so. Realizing that she killed her love, she gives up her gun and sadly sings "Garden of Love", leading into the epilogue and credits.

Cultural impact

The movie has become a cult classic, and has enjoyed great popularity since Jackson's success with The Lord of the Rings. During his acceptance speech at the 2004 Academy Awards, Peter Jackson mentioned the movie, noting that it had been "wisely overlooked by the Academy."

Cast (voice only)

Trivia

  • Money ran out during production, so the flashback to Vietnam was quietly filmed separately (with a different budget) as The Frogs of War. This scene includes a game of Russian roulette as a parody of The Deer Hunter.
  • The Jesus Christ in the Feebles universe appears to be a Kermit the Frog-like frog. This is shown in the form of a crucifix held by Harry when he is praying to God to recover from his sickness.
  • The dialogue was recorded before shooting began.
  • It is often mistakenly stated that there are no human characters in the film; the character Abi is a human. However, there are no real-life human characters in the film.
  • Tech metal band Meshuggah cited Meet The Feebles as one of their sources of inspiration for their Destroy Erase Improve album in the booklet.
  • Peter Jackson has a cameo as an audience member dressed as an alien from "Bad Taste".
  • Brisbane 90's band Feebles Junky was made up of a collective of friends (including Andrew G of Australian idol fame) who were massive fans of this film.
  • The film was originally conceived for Japanese television and only belatedly became a feature; as such, the script was hastily re-written to be longer.
  • According to the Internet Movie Database trivia for the film, the production team could not get hold of blank rounds for the M60 machine gun used in the movie and therefore the gun was firing live ammunition.

See also

External links

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