Features Live Action Movies

Meet the Feebles

Director – Peter Jackson – 1989 – New Zealand – Cert. 18 – 97m


Offbeat special effects puppet movie proves a let-down despite inventive filmmaking – review originally published in What’s On in London, March 1992.

Walrus producer Bletch (voice: Peter Vere Jones) wants to take his crummy stage show Meet the Feebles onto syndicated television. Unfortunately, he’s switched amorous attentions from leading lady Heidi the Hippo (Danny Mulheron; voice: Mark Hadlow) to Samantha the Siamese Cat (voice: Donna Akersten) – only Heidi hasn’t got the message yet.

Robert the Hedgehog (voice: Mark Hadlow) arrives from method acting school eager to sample this glamorous backstage world; through rose-tinted vision, he falls in love with chorus girl Lucille the dog (voice: Mark Wright). Bletch’s P.A. Trevor the Rat (voice: Brian Sergent) shoots porno movies in the basement and has other plans for her. [His leading lady Daisy the Cow (voice: Stuart Devenie) is on her last udders.]

By now, you’re probably starting to get the idea. The effect is not dissimilar to watching The Muppets reconceived in terms of excessive sex and violence.

The brains (if that’s the right word) behind this dubious enterprise is New Zealand’s amazingly talented Peter Jackson, whose Bad Taste deservedly achieved cult status. While Meet the Feebles is equally offbeat and highly inventive both in terms of filmmaking and special effects of the puppet variety, its generally vacuous subject matter is a let-down.

Tastelessness is the order of the day here – we’re talking Siamese Cat / Walrus sex, paparazzi journalist fly covered in human excrement and Harry the promiscuous Hare going under with a lethal sex disease. Such, it seems, is the world of Showbiz. Several subplots too many include a crazed drugs war involving Mr. Big the Whale (voice: Ross Jolly) at a downtown wharf; the most memorable flashes back through the mind of knife thrower Wynyard (voice: Brian Sergent again), a drug-addicted Vietnam vet frog with the shakes, to rework The Deerhunter (Michael Cimino, 1978) with the frog playing Russian Roulette as toothy, Vietnamese beavers look on.

Review originally published in What’s On in London, March 1992.


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