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Edgy Fraggles?

06/15/2010 Comments (30)

Fraggle fans: Did you ever find yourselves singing along to the “Fraggle Rock” theme song and thinking, “You know, this is a great show, but it could be edgier”?

If so, help is on the way, courtesy of the Weinstein Company. Slashfilm noted this morning that writer-director Cory Edwards (Hoodwinked!), who has been developing a Fraggle Rock feature film for the Weinstein Company, posted an ominous note on his blog warning of “some dark days ahead.”

Apparently the Weinstein Company, unsatisfied with Edwards’ screenplay, has begun searching for a new screenwriter to rewrite it, perhaps from scratch. By itself, that doesn’t tell us much, but according to Edwards the studio’s complaint is that his script is “not edgy enough.”

Hoo boy. I have to admit that I find it possible that Edwards’ script leaves something to be desired. I didn’t think Hoodwinked! was any great shakes, though it was successful, and I thought it showed some promise. (I never saw the sequel, Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil.) (Side note: Edwards is a Christian.)

Buuut the idea of a gaggle of head-shaking suits at Weinstein reading Edwards’ screenplay and saying “Not edgy enough” fills me with trepidation—and I was never even a Fraggle Rock fan. (Not that I had anything against it. It came along during my high school years, when, as recently disclosed, I was busy watching Knight Rider and The A-Team.)

“Edgy” is a good word for a Batman movie or a Daniel Craig James Bond movie. Coraline was “edgy,” and so was Where the Wild Things Are, maybe. Maybe even “The Muppet Show” was a little bit edgy, although the longer this paragraph goes on the less clear I am about what that word actually means in the first place.

At any rate, when I think of Fraggles, I do not think “edgy.” Fraggles are round, soft and fuzzy, with fuzzy Hobbity names like Gobo, Mokey and Wembley. There’s a talking trash heap and little critters called Doozers who look like pint-sized versions of Bob the Builder. The Fraggle Rock theme song, which Wikipedia reports reached #33 on the British pop charts during the show’s height, goes like this:

Dance your cares away
Worry’s for another day
Let the music play
Down at Fraggle Rock.

That’s about as un-edgy as it gets, folks. I sympathize with Cory’s lament (and I had to include his links, which are hilarious):

“EDGY.” That’s the note. That’s what they are trying to do to the Fraggle Rock movie. EDGE it up! Let me say right now that “edgy” is one of my least favorite words. Since my earliest days in the client video business, “edgy” has been a sign of someone who doesn’t know what they want. Not only is “edgy” a nebulous, abstract word that means something different to everyone, but it chases the immediate whims of pop culture. WHAT is edgy?? Faster edits? Rock music for the score? Boober wearing some gangsta bling? I have no idea. What I DO know is that the word “edgy” should not be anywhere near this movie.

What if “Toy Story” was edgy? “Toy Story” can be relevant, sharply written, and fast paced, but it has a genuine heart and sincere characters. Like “Toy Story,” Fraggle Rock’s success is not only due to it’s anti-edginess, but in its absolute DEFIANCE of all that is edgy and trendy and pop in this world.

It’s easy to concur with the Slashfilm writer Peter Sciretta when he concludes, “It seems clear to me that The Weinstein Co doesn’t even understand the property they are developing into a feature film.” And, really, this is an ongoing problem in one Hollywood adaptation after another, from the Narnia films to the likes of Robin Hood and King Arthur.

But Sciretta also has problems with the whole concept for the Fraggle film, which takes the characters “outside of their home in Fraggle Rock, where they interact with humans, which they think are aliens.” Sciretta writes:

My problem with the Fraggle Rock movie is that it removes the characters from Fraggle Rock. The Traveling Matt segments were some of the least interesting moments from the series, and the doozer-filler cave homes of the singing puppets was the most interesting aspect of the series. For me, you loose [sic] the magic of the world that Henson created by taking them out of the ‘Rock and putting them in the real world.

At this point, as a non-Fraggle fan I’m out of my depth. Like any feature adaptation of a TV show, a Fraggle movie would have to do something larger and more ambitious than a TV show episode, or it won’t sustain the film. Taking the Fraggles out of the Rock might be one way to do this, but Sciretta may have a point, especially if the world of the Rock is an integral part of the show’s appeal.

Fraggle fans: What do you think?

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About Steven D. Greydanus

SDG
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Steven D. Greydanus is film critic for the National Catholic Register and Decent Films, the online home for his film writing. He writes regularly for Christianity Today, Catholic World Report and other venues, and is a regular guest on several radio shows. Steven has contributed several entries to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, including “The Church and Film” and a number of filmmaker biographies. He has also written about film for the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy. He has a BFA in Media Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and an MA in Religious Studies from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, PA. He is pursuing diaconal studies in the Archdiocese of Newark. Steven and Suzanne have seven children.