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Kermit's Swamp Years is a 2002 Direct to DVD movie that is a prequel of sorts to The Muppet Movie, following Kermit's years of living in the swamp in Mississippi before he decided to travel to Hollywood. It opens in the present day with Kermit moving right along on his motor-scooter to visit his old family in the swamp, and then he starts to narrate his tale to the audience of one particular adventure he got involved in when he was only a boy. He had two playmates, Goggles, a nervous, cowardly toad with glasses, and Croaker, a smooth, confident frog. Said adventure involved a confrontation with two human frog hunters, Goggles getting frog-napped, a dog named Pilgrim, and an ordeal through a pet shop, through downtown, and climaxing in a high school classroom where they dissect frogs!
It is produced by Lions Gate Home Entertainment and Muppet Studios. Even though it is not as popular as most of the other Muppet films, it contains various mythology gags and nods to Jim Henson's legacy.
This movie contains the following tropes:
- Accidental Aesop: Don't dissect frogs because.... they can talk?! ...In-universe, maybe.
- Alter Kocker: The two turtles in the pet shop.
- Audience Shift: Unlike most of the Muppet films, shows, and TV specials, this film is more obviously aimed at children, with very little for adults to appreciate.
- Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Horace D'Fly flying around and singing.
- Animal is seen as a key chain ornament in the red truck that carries Goggles to the pet shop.
- Statler and Waldorf are seen in the movie theater as younger versions of themselves, and note how generous it was for the director to allow them a cameo in the movie!
- Chekhov's Skill: Kermit wallops Dr. Kraussman using tips he observed from a film. "What is this?! A movie?!"
- Continuity Nod:
- Ernie the Alligator, who in The Muppet Movie appeared as an animatronic, non-speaking, naturalistic-looking robot in the opening scene, here appears as a more traditional Muppet who can speak! He was on good terms with Kermit back then too.
- Kermit is inspired by an action film while in a movie theater. This is clearly a nod to him remarking how "there's a matinee downtown every Sunday" in the original film.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Kraussman's assistant won't go through dissecting the frogs.
- Freudian Excuse: Kraussman wants to kill frogs because he had to dissect one when he was in high school, but was laughed at by everyone for not going through with it, and for being called crazy for claiming frogs can talk.
- The Faceless: Kermit's mother.
- Hilarious Outtakes
- Large Ham: Dr. Kraussman.
- Medium Blending: Horace D'Fly, like Waldo S. Graphic, is a remote-controlled, virtual CG puppet.
- Mythology Gag:
- A young human boy helps Kermit up from the road so he can continue on his way. The boy watches Kermit walk off-screen, ponders for a moment, and then checks the mailbox. The mailbox reads Henson!
- A postcard in the background of the pet shop reads "Salmon Friends", a take on Sam and Friends, Jim Henson's first show.
- Obviously Evil: Kraussman.
- Prequel: To The Muppet Movie.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Frogs have an unwritten rule never to talk to humans. Kermit has no choice but to break it so he and his friends can escape from the classroom and go home. This implies that Kermit is also a liberator among his species- no frog has ever been revealed to be able to talk to any human before this, save for maybe Kraussman as a boy, who tried to convince his other classmates and failed. In The Muppet Movie, talking frogs are seen as completely ordinary.
- Suddenly Voiced: Ernie the Alligator.