Meet the Feebles (New Zealand, 1989)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

And now for something completely different...

Originally released in New Zealand during 1989, Peter Jackson's cult hit Meet the Feebles is only now receiving its official United States "tour", opening for short runs in select art houses across the country over a six month period. Those not specifically on the lookout for this film will probably miss meeting the Feebles, which may be a good thing, considering the potentially- horrified reaction of someone who unwittingly walks into a theater showing this feature.

The Feebles -- the creatures which populate this movie -- are a cross between the Muppets and the monsters from Return of the Jedi. But the denizens of Peter Jackson's dark, puppet demesne are not cute and cuddly. To the outside world, the stars of "The Fabulous Feebles Variety Hour" television special are celebrities worthy of adoration, but those who spend time behind-the- scenes know the real story. The Feebles are engaged in every kind of depravity imaginable, from pornography to homicidal shooting sprees. In brief, there's Harry the hare, who thinks he's infected with a terminal sexually-transmitted disease; Bletch the walrus, who runs a XXX video business on the side; Sebastian the fox, who writes and sings a song called "Sodomy"; Trevor the rat, who deals drugs and sounds like Peter Lorre; Heidi the hippo, the aging, overweight star attraction; and Wynyard the frog, a Vietnam Vet with a heroin habit.

The stories of these and a few other characters are told in a disgustingly graphic, obscenely offbeat, and caustically funny manner. Meet the Feebles is for those with a strong stomach and a seriously warped sense of humor. The film is so off the beaten track that it makes Monty Python seem mainstream. Anyone attracted by the promise of an earlier effort from the director of Meet the Feebles should avoid precipitously rushing out to see this; the only link between the two films is the undeniable creative genius of Peter Jackson.

The mood of the viewer goes a long way to determining how much enjoyment is culled from Meet the Feebles. It probably helps to watch this film with a group of like-minded individuals, perhaps after imbibing a little too much alcohol. Calling this film "bizarre" is far too tame -- it's sick, ribald, and willing to try just about anything. That makes for a nearly- unprecedented monument to bad taste. Sounds a little like something by John Waters, doesn't it?

It should be noted that grossing people out isn't the only objective of Meet the Feebles. Despite being buried beneath copious quantities of body fluids and other revolting material, Jackson's film contains a satirical message about not objectifying media stars. This movie was created some seven years ago, yet it doesn't take much stretch of the imagination to relate it to certain current high-profile news stories. How different is the Feebles' three ring circus from that of the O.J. Simpson trial?

Meet the Feebles is the sort of movie you either love or hate. Personally, while I found parts of it diabolically clever and funny, I thought the setup was overlong and certain aspects of the production either didn't work or were needlessly overdone. But that's the kind of style that turns something like this into a cult favorite, so take the numerical rating with a significant grain of salt. Regardless of your opinion of Meet the Feebles, however, it's unlikely that, after seeing this film, you'll ever look at Kermit or Miss Piggy in quite the same way.

Meet the Feebles (New Zealand, 1989)

Run Time: 1:37
U.S. Release Date: -
MPAA Rating: "NR" (Profanity, Sexual Situations, Violence, Nudity, Drugs)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1