It’s time for another round of Muppet Casting, where we take a famous movie and ask, if Jim Henson’s Muppets made their own version of it (in the vein of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island), which Muppets would you cast in the lead roles?
Y’know, often with these Muppet Castings, we’re talking about movies like The Usual Suspects or King Lear, whose tone and subject matter are so far removed from the Muppets’ comfort zone, you know the people behind the Muppets would never let them make such a movie. But then along comes a movie where not just the tone and subject matter, but also the sense of humor, visual style, and overall sensibilities are such a good fit for the Muppets, it’s easy to imagine an alternate reality where the Muppets did make this movie, squeezing it in sometime between The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan.
I’m referring, of course, to this week’s film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!
Robin as Charlie Bucket – You need an innocent, fresh-faced kid to play Charlie. Some of the other child characters will be played by adult Muppets, but Charlie really needs that ingénue quality.
Kermit the Frog as Charlie’s Mother – With Robin as Charlie, this is a no-brainer.
Fozzie Bear as Grandpa Joe – May seem like kind of an odd pick, but I think Fozzie is just right for Grandpa Joe’s mix of being very loving and supportive, but rarely ever helpful.
Statler & Waldorf (and, let’s say, Pops) as Charlie’s Other Grandparents – You just need some old folks to fill out the four grandparents in a bed thing. Statler & Waldorf could probably add some zingers during the first half of the movie, too. “We’ve been stuck in this bed for the last twenty years.” “Worse, we’ve been stuck in this movie for the last twenty minutes!” “Do ho ho ho ho ho!”
Animal & the Swedish Chef as Mr. & Mrs. Gloop – The Swedish Chef is the Germanic accented mother always talking about what Augustus eats (and “Gloop” definitely sounds like a piece of Swedlish). Animal is the father who bites the head off a microphone once it’s put in his face. I shudder to think what the custom made Muppet needed to represent their child would look like.
Miss Piggy as Veruca Salt(pork) – You’d have to use Miss Piggy at her absolute worst and most diva-ish, but she could pull off Veruca’s spoiled brattiness better than anyone else could.
Janice as Violet Beauregarde – I can definitely picture Janice chewing on a piece of gum through the entire movie, though she’d do it in more of an absent minded way than a competitive chewing sort of way.
Rizzo the Rat as Mike Teavee – Rizzo’s got just the right crass, uncouth, and very American persona to play Mike.
Dr. Phil van Neuter as Charlie’s Teacher – I normally wouldn’t cast such a minor role, but the teacher’s irritated I’m-smarter-than-you shtick would just sound so great coming out of van Neuter.
The Muppet Newscaster as Himself – Use him for all the news reports on the search for the Golden Tickets. “We must remember there are many more important things. Many more important things. Off-hand, I can’t think of what they are, but I’m sure there must be something.”
Gonzo the Great as . . . do I really have to say it? – As soon as you saw the title “Muppet Casting: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, was there really any doubt which Muppet should get the title role? There are so many moments that make Gonzo absolutely perfect for Wonka, but if I had to choose just one . . . “The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last.”
Those are my picks for a Muppet rendition of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What are yours?