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The Muppet Movie, the big-screen debut of Jim Henson's plush creations, is smart, lighthearted, and fun for all ages.
The Muppet Movie, the big-screen debut of Jim Henson's plush creations, is smart, lighthearted, and fun for all ages.
All Critics (48)
| Top Critics (5)
| Fresh (42)
| Rotten (6)
| DVD (8)
Jolson sang, Barrymore spoke, Garbo laughed, and now Kermit the Frog rides a bicycle... If you can figure out how they were able to show Kermit pedaling across the screen, then you are less a romantic than I am: I prefer to believe he did it himself.
The transition from the yank-'em-off-if-they-bomb lunacy of the TV show to the coherent narration of the film is not a complete success.
Jim Henson, Muppet originator, and Frank Oz, creative consultant, have abandoned the successful format of their vidshow, and inserted their creations into a well-crafted combo of musical comedy and fantasy adventure.
Slapstick chases and weak movie references look tired, while the attitude towards Miss Piggy and Camilla the Chicken is, well, less than progressive.
There's always room in movies for unbridled amiability when it's governed by intelligence and wit.
Comedy director James Frawley imposes pleasing order on the charming proceedings while Henson and his long-time associate Frank Oz delightfully dominate.
With charm for the kids and in-jokes for their parents (when Kermit's bicycle gets mangled, he quips, "I thought I was gone with the Schwinn"), Muppet creator Jim Henson tries to give everybody a little something.
The cast are all here, along with the technical wizardry, but the dialogue staggers from one leaden gag to another and there is an unmistakeable note of desperation throughout.
As expected, Fozzie the Bear and the old geezers Statler and Waldorf receive the lion's share of the choice lines.
while The Muppet Movie is certainly entertaining, the shift to a coherent, linear, feature-length narrative deprives the film the show's brilliantly structured inanity
With his Muppets, Henson found a balance between fuzzy post-hippie positivism and self-deprecating wit, and he added in the same quality that made many of the era's cultural phenomena so charming: simple problem-solving.
'The Muppet Movie' is one big road trip, and like 'The Blues Brothers' there's a payoff not just at the end, but around nearly every corner. Music only sweetens the deal.
I am currently 40 years old as I write this (born in 1978). Like a few other franchises ([i]Star Wars[/i], [i]Star Trek[/i], [i]Ghostbusters[/i], [i]Superman[/i] etc...) I was introduced to the Muppets at a very young age and ended up growing up with them. In fact, I do believe this was one of the first movies I recall seeing in the early stages of my life (along with some Disney animations). Yes back in the days of big square television sets encased in a plastic wood effect surround; along with a big chunky VHS recorder that had a remote control attached by a cable. Those were the days when watching a movie like 'The Muppet Movie' on TV was a big deal and had to be recorded for repeat viewings.
This being my first Muppet experience as a kid it obviously holds the greatest amount of nostalgia for me. As I watched this recently it was incredible just how many memories of my childhood came flooding back simply by seeing certain scenes. It's a strange...emotion really, I found myself near tears as the camera slowly panned down on Kermit whilst atop of his swampy log singing [i]The Rainbow Connection[/i]. It's weird how you recall little moments out of the blue, little bits of dialog, despite not seeing the movie for many many years.
But I think one of the funniest things that spring to mind is simply how much of this movie I didn't understand when I was a kid. I remember not getting some of the jokes, not understanding certain scenes, certain gestures, and even certain individual words. It's funny how you watch an old childhood movie like this and think to yourself 'oh so that's what that meant'. 'Oh that's what that character means'. 'Oh I get that now, I see the nod and wink gag'. I think the Muppets is certainly a franchise that serves both adults and kids perfectly. As a kid you love them because they are just silly, colourful, funny, and look wacky. As an adult you get the sly humour, the winks, and of course you know who the cameos are (something else I totally missed as a kid). They are very much like the old Warner Bros. cartoons in that sense.
As for the movie itself, it's actually more of a mixed bag for me now looking back. Firstly the Muppet effects are of course, for the time, very good. An early scene in a bar showcases a full-body sequence of Kermit and Fozzie dancing on stage. This was done by utilising the same techniques they would eventually use in 'Labyrinth' which had both Jim Henson and Frank Oz manipulating the puppets in front of a bluescreen. That footage was then composited onto pre-shot live action footage of the bar. Considering how old this movie is and it being the first Muppet movie this sequence looks great (helped by the dark setting of the bar).
The opening sequence of Kermit sitting on his log in his swamp is also one of the movies great highlights (if not [b]the[/b] highlight). In this case, Henson had to be submerged under the water inside the log and performed Kermit through an above opening whilst watching on a monitor. This not only sounded very tricky but also very dangerous in my opinion. Needless to say the entire shot looks flawless. The same can be said for the shots of Muppets riding bikes which was simply a Muppet stuck to the bike's pedals and handlebars with the bike being guided along by an overhead crane. And then you have the odd full-body shot of Muppets standing in the open which I'm guessing was again utilising an overhead crane, but you'd never guess because it looks terrific.
Of course the big finale sequence of every single Muppet (including [i]Sesame Street[/i] I think) all together singing in one huge overhead shot was the coup de grâce. This was achieved simply by having around 250 puppet performers all side by side in large long trenches or pits (so all the Muppets would be at the same height). It was merely the same technique they used all the time but on a huge scale to incorporate all the Muppets. Simple but effective and immensely memorable.
The movie itself is of course a light-hearted kids comedy bordering on spoof at times. There are tonnes of silly slapstick and songs for the kids to enjoy, but at the same time the movie is crammed with dry wit, pop culture references, meta-references, and big-name cameos for the adults. The gags tend to vary in quality though it has to be said. Whilst some are still quite clever, some are horribly childish and now horribly dated. When the Muppets come to a fork in the road...there is literally a large fork in the road. At times the Muppets will actually reference the movies script, people behind the camera, and will break the fourth wall.
The cameos are another large part of the Muppet movies that would continue going forward over the years. This being the first movie it has some epic cameos from actors of legendary status and other actors you'd be surprised to see. Brief cameos from the likes of Dom DeLuise, Telly Savalas, James Coburn, Elliot Gould, Bob Hope, Orson Welles (looking epically awesome), Steve Martin (yes Steve Martin!), and Richard Pryor to name a few. And then you had Mel Brooks (who always looked middle-aged) as a mad German scientist hired to brainwash Kermit. To say that Brooks was overacting would be an understatement, he goes for it.
The one problem with this movie that I just can't get around is the plot, its crap. Basically Kermit and his friends are trying to get to Hollywood to become big stars (somewhat shallow in itself). This seems to be something the Muppets try to do a lot. On the way Kermit is pursued by Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), a restaurateur who wants to open a chain of fast food frogs legs restaurants (but why????). But for some reason he [b]needs[/b] Kermit to act in some commercials for his chain to get the gig off the ground. His idea simply being a dancing frog mascot will help sell frogs legs. What's more to the question, would [b]anything[/b] help sell frogs legs??
So he offers Kermit some great monetary deals to simply star in some adverts and basically be a mascot. Naturally, Kermit being the sickening goody-two-shoes that he is, he turns these offers down despite the other Muppets telling him to take them. So Doc Hopper chases Kermit and co across the US trying to force him into the deal. This involves threats, kidnapping, attempted brainwashing, attempted Muppet murder etc...In short it all feels somewhat extreme.
But this is the problem, the plot is just awful. The Muppets just wanna go to Hollywood to become stars...just because. And Doc Hopper (notice the pun in his name) wants to sell frogs legs to Americans via a fast food chain and wants Kermit to do some adverts. But towards the end the Muppets reach Hollywood and do their thing whilst Doc Hopper and his gang simply disappear, I guess they give up (?). I should also point out that the Muppets are given the 'Hollywood rich and famous contract' by Orson Welles straight away without any hesitation. They just burst in and get taken on. Yes, I know its just a kids Muppet movie but I have to point out that the plot literally makes no sense and grinds to a nonsensical stop at the end. Its almost as if Henson didn't know how to finish it so they just...ended it with a song.
I should also point out that the story we watch unfold is actually a movie within a movie. The story is actually a movie the Muppets have apparently made themselves and are screening it for themselves (this bookends the movie). My question has always been, is this movie the Muppets have made a bio of themselves coming to Hollywood? Is it supposed to be their story of how they cracked Hollywood? Or is it supposed to be a fictional tale they have created for monetary purposes?
It's certainly a historic movie with all the classic cameos, classic cars, classic songs, and classic set pieces throughout. As you might expect the movie is also pretty corny and dated these days, but that's not a bad thing. After all this is a Muppet movie and Muppets can get away with just about anything because they are so damned iconic and adored worldwide. But yeah the plot is very fast and loose, strung together by set pieces and songs which luckily are very good. All your favourite Muppets are present and correct with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, Rowlf the Dog, Beaker, Lew Zealand etc...And even Big Bird on his way to Sesame Street (was Big Bird a new character at this time?). The movie does seem to end in an abrupt and odd kinda way but its so fecking sweet you just can't help but smile (or wipe away a nostalgic tear...damn it).
Is it just me or was anyone else kinda terrified of Sweetums when they were a kid? Like who the hell thought that was a good design for a Muppet?? He's a huge, monstrous, evil-looking, humanoid beast that can run and eat things whole!!
"Ever since the recent Muppet movie came out my 8 yr old nephew has been obsessed with them. So when he saw this streaming on Netflix, he begged me to watch it with him. I had never seen it before, but I really enjoyed it. I think I enjoyed watching my nephew watch it more then the actual movie. He gets very excited and jumps and screams at the t.v. and laughs very loud. OK so to put short, he's loud. I either get amused looks or dirty looks from fellow movie goer's when we go to the theater.
Back to he movie. I loved that it was a road-trip. I have made it known that I love a good road-trip flick. I adore Kermit. I think he's a great character for kids. It was funny. I laughed out loud a few times. I guess the only thing that really got on my nerves was all the singing. It is a known fact that with these movies there will be singing. I don't think it would have bothered me if the songs didn't last for almost ten minutes. My nephew said he could have done without them too, so I'm not alone in thinking it. But overall it was a fun movie that kids and adults can both watch and have a fun time with."
The Muppet Movie is a film that really touched my funny bone and my heart seeing as I am a huge Muppet fan. The plot shows how they got together and it really worked for me and was fun ride, other than the boring parts with the evil frog legs tycoon. The cast was funny and did good, escpially the Muppet cast, they are always likeable. The comedy was just as perfect as comedy gets, it was seriously a hilarious ride and I loved it. The movie is for true fans of puppets, and if you are you are sure to love the best of them all, the Muppets.
Waka waka waka! Let the good times roll! Before I die of impatience for the new Muppet movie to arrive to Sweden, I thought I'd go back to the humble beginnings of these wonderfully timeless entertainers. More specifically, 1979.
Bubbling with life and great musical numbers, this tells the backstory of how all the muppets came to befriend each other. Featuring cameo performances from some of the biggest stars of the 70's (Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Mel Brooks and countless others), it has a lot to boast about in the "human half" of the cast.
Some of the special effects are actually pretty flabbergasting. Like how they made Kermit ride a bike in full visible view. I'm genuinely at a loss for how they did that, even if I have a fair idea. Either way, it's a good example of the dying art that the muppets have come to represent. You don't need a bunch of computer effects to make great entertainment. All you need is a little imagination and a team of passionate, hard-working people to help you realize your dream.
Jim Henson made a stroke of genius when he created this colorful gang of fun-loving characters. And the fact they're still around, more than 30 years later, goes to show how timeless they truly are.
So whether you're an old fan or new, I can highly recommend a visit to this first and original muppet movie. Many of its human stars may have faded out of relevance, but it's not really for them that we watch this film in the first place. It's for the green little frog and his wackadoodle friends.
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