#275 The Muppet Movie

(1979, James Frawley)

“Kermit, does this film have socially redeeming value?”

Hello everyone. It’s my birthday today. And so, to prevent me from being enraged by an overhyped Hollywood epic or baffled by European arthouse cinema on my day, I picked a film I knew I would enjoy. Today I am reviewing The Muppet Movie.

I love the Muppets. In fact, everyone loves The Muppets. If you don’t like The Muppets, you’re weird. The Muppets are a lovable bunch of silly puppets and the world would be a much worse place without them in it. They’ve made a few movies in their time too, from adapting literary classics with A Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island to the recent release of Muppets Most Wanted. Today, we’re looking at where their cinematic career began, the simply-titled Muppet Movie.

Essentially an origin story for the gang of entertainers, it starts with Kermit The Frog (performed by Jim Henson) playing his banjo in the swamps when a Hollywood agent rows up to him in a boat saying that Hollywood is looking for entertaining frogs. And so, Kermit sets off on an adventure to Hollywood to gain super-stardom, where he meets new friends along the way such as Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo and the strangely alluring (to Kermit) Miss Piggy. Shenanigans ensue.

Like I said, today is my birthday, and I picked this because I knew I would like it. Oddly, I’d never seen this before, but I’ve enjoyed other Muppet movies so it seemed pretty clear I’d like this one too. And I did. There we go. Review over. Can I have some cake now? No? Oh, fine. Let’s do this properly.

The Muppet Movie is not the strongest movie in the world when it comes to plot. Hollywood seeking out talented frogs isn’t exactly a regular occurrence, and the people in this universe eat frogs’ legs way more often than anyone in the real world, making the villain’s motives a little bizarre. The plot isn’t that coherent, leaping from event to event, coming across as little more than an extended episode of The Muppet Show with a slightly bigger budget, right down to appearances from celebrity guests such as Steve Martin, Dom DeLuise, Mel Brooks and Orson Welles.

But do you know what? None of that matters in the slightest. This movie is entirely meant to be a vehicle for felt puppets to crack jokes and drag the viewer along in a fun-packed adventure that makes no sense, removes the fourth wall and says “screw the rules, I’m having a great time!” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I cannot fault this movie too much.

I’ll admit that perhaps I’m a little biased. The Muppets were part of my childhood, as much as they were part of many others people’s, and it’s hard to get past that. But even trying to look at things objectively, I realised that the reason these silly puppets have endured for so long is because they’re just so well-written and so well-performed that it’s impossible not to like them.

From Kermit’s squishy face to Miss Piggy’s aggressive slapstick to Fozzie Bear’s terrible puns, The Muppet Movie, much like the show it spawned from, isn’t trying to achieve anything more than being a bit of light entertainment. It wants to amuse kids of all ages, including twenty-something kids like me. And my god, does it achieve that.

So yes, the plot is silly. Yes, the celebrity cameos are silly. Yes, the entire movie is just two hours of vaguely linked sketches. But it also knows full well that it’s silly, and even makes fun of itself for being silly.

So I made a perfect choice for a movie for my birthday review. A movie that fills me with joy and makes me feel like a child in the best way. I don’t see any point in sitting here and telling you why The Muppet Movie is so much fun. If you have any contact with your inner child, you absolutely need to watch it immediately.

Starring The Muppets, performed by Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt & Dave Goelz, and co-starring Charles Durning & Austin Pendleton
Written by Jack Burns & Jerry Juhl
Produced by Jim Henson, David Lazer, Lord Grade & Martin Starger
Music by Paul Williams & Kenny Ascher
Cinematography by Isidore Mankofsky
Edited by Christopher Greenbury

Favourite Scene: The introduction of Miss Piggy at a beauty contest.
Scene That Bugged Me: NOPE NOT TODAY

Watch it if: You like silly felt puppets making jokes
Avoid it if: You’re some weirdo who doesn’t like silly felt puppets making jokes

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Posted on April 15, 2014, in 1970s, Comedy, Family and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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