I'm very thankful that The Muppet Movie is not my first exposure to these characters. I've seen many of their movies before, as well as their TV show, so I know that these characters are capable of being funny. Had I seen The Muppet Movie first, however, I likely would've avoided the muppets like the plague. A truly terrible film in just about every respect, The Muppet Movie is a disaster, and I find it strange that other people don't see that.
In a nutshell, The Muppet Movie is about Kermit the Frog, who is convinced he may have a career in film, and goes on a crazy road trip to Hollywood, picking up new friends to come along. Things are further complicated, however, by a villainous man named Doc Hopper, who's intent on using Kermit to promote his fried-frog-leg business.
This is not a complicated story. And yet, The Muppet Movie seems to have found the most convoluted way possible to tell it. The story is completely unfocused, and the whole production lacks any kind of cohesiveness. At times, I began wondering if this was really the entire film, as it seems that major scenes or necessary dialogue were missing somehow. Perhaps there was initially a longer cut of the film, but it was condensed in editing. Research may prove beneficial, but I'm not sure how much more time I want to waste on this film.
The Muppet Movie also suffers from fairly poor comedy. I'll admit, the first 20 minutes has some pretty memorable scenes, and the many cameos (while a bit excessive) were fairly amusing. Yet, after the first 20 minutes, the whole film is a complete and utter drag. Paced absurdly slow, with almost no successful humor, The Muppet Movie is mind-numbingly boring.
At the same time, many of the jokes are painfully terrible. Most of the time, it's hard to tell apart clever parody, or awful joke. I'm sure a lot of the humor was hilarious 30 years ago, but today, none of it really works.
At least the songs are good, right? Well, no. Yes, "Rainbow Connection" is a classic, and "Movin' Right Along" is pretty catchy, but the rest of the songs are weak. "Never Before, Never Again," is completely forgettable, and immensely dull. "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" sounds like the lyrics were written by an eight year old, and "I'm Going to Back There Someday" just sounds like a bad rip-off of "Rainbow Connection." Still, none of these songs are even close to as awful as "Can You Picture That?" I very nearly skipped this song because I despised it so, and in retrospect, that might not have been such a bad idea.
The acting is all right, though hardly revolutionary. The human cast is basically just there to either move the story along, or interact with the muppets. Still, Charles Durning is pretty funny as Doc Hopper. And the many, many cameos are at least worth a smile. Still, Steve Martin's cameo may be one of the strangest I've seen. It wasn't so much funny as it was odd.
The score, by Paul Williams, is fun. The uses of the Rainbow Connection theme are great, but there's not much here to note.
The Muppet Movie is simply terrible. Slow, unfunny, poorly written, and with terrible songs, this is a disaster, and I can't believe how highly it's often regarded. Even the first 20 minutes, which I mentioned earlier as the funniest part of the film, never made me laugh. A handful of smiles and some clever cameos are all The Muppet Movie has to offer. In my opinion, it could only please the nostalgic, or the desperate.