Frank Oz: A Look Back.

Note: This post is for the LAMBs in the Director's Chair.


Mostly known for his voice work on Sesame Street, as Muppets, and--of course--as Yoda, Frank Oz has been in the business for quite a while. But today I wanted to focus on his directorial efforts. I've seen half of his films, but I don't remember much of one (Indian in the Cupboard). At a surface glance, his films seem drastically different. But when you poke just a little bit deeper, you'll see a bit of twistedness and dark humor imbued in most. Let's start from the beginning.

Title: The Dark Crystal
Starring: Jim Henson, Kathryn Mullen, Frank Oz, and Dave Goelz
Synopsis: Fantasy story about a creature named Jen who must find a crystal shard in order to restore peace and order to his dying world.
Thoughts: This is apparently some masterpiece of puppetry and fantasy, but I don't see it. I've always stayed away from this film because just the look of it on posters and cases bothered me. That didn't go away when I just recently watched it. The voice acting is ungodly annoying--particularly Jen and Chamberlain (which is done by both Henson and Oz, respectively). The voice over in the first 10 or so minutes gets really old really fast. The puppets themselves are ugly and too fake. I love fantasy films, but this one is nearly unbearable to me. I know it's a children's classic, but I couldn't handle it.

Title: The Muppets Take Manhattan
Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Dave Goelz
Synopsis and Thoughts: For more information on both the synopsis and thoughts, check out episode 13 of The Demented Podcast in which Jess and I discuss this film.

Title: Little Shop of Horrors
Starring: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and Levi Stubbs
Synopsis: A young man named Seymour working in a rundown flower shop showcases a "strange and interesting new plant" he's discovered... that just so happens to eat blood. In order to continue his success and keep the attention from Audrey, Seymour must continue to feed it blood until the only way left to feed it is kill people.
Thoughts: This was my favorite film growing up and is still a personal favorite today. I know the whole film by heart. Excellent puppetry for the Audrey II. Amazing songs. Really fun comedy and good romance. Of course, this is my favorite Frank Oz film hands down.

Title: The Score
Starring: Edward Norton, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, and Angela Bassett
Synopsis: Old thief wants to retire. One last heist. Young up-and-comer. You know the drill.
Thoughts: It was alright. I don't remember much about it, despite having just seen it last year. A decent heist movie, but apparently not very memorable. The dynamic between Norton and De Niro trying to outdo each other was fun, though.

Title: Stepford Wives
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Glenn Close, and Christopher Walken
Synopsis: The women in the town are replaced with androids... or something.
Thoughts: It's crap.

Title: Death at a Funeral
Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, Ewen Bremner, Rupert Graves, Alan Tudyk, and Peter Dinklage
Synopsis: Chaos ensues at the funeral of a man's father.
Thoughts: I thought this movie was hilarious. Apparently most just think it's an OK film, but I loved it. Unfortunately, they remade the movie with Chris Rock 3 years later, which I still have yet to see... though I know it can't be good (or as good).

Final Thoughts: Just like his varied career, Frank Oz has made some questionable films. Some are excellent (at least in my opinion), while some are pretty dang awful. I have yet to see some of his more appreciated works, but I will get to them eventually. I seem to enjoy every other Frank Oz film I see, and after the abysmally annoying Dark Crystal, I'm sure to enjoy at least the next few.

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