The Muppet Movie

  • Directed by James Frawley
  • May 31, 1979 (UK) / June 22, 1979 (US)

Muppet Cast

  • Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth, Waldorf, The Swedish Chef-Jim Henson
  • Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Marvin Suggs-Frank Oz
  • Floyd Pepper, Crazy Harry, Robin the Frog, Lew Zealand, Camilla the Chicken-Jerry Nelson
  • Scooter, Statler, Janice, Sweetums, Beaker-Richard Hunt
  • Gonzo the Great, Zoot, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Doglion-Dave Goelz
  • Big Bird-Caroll Spinney

After meeting a Hollywood agent, Kermit sets off on a cross-country trip to Hollywood and meets the other Muppets along the way.

The Muppet Movie is a classic family friendly comedy that is not only an extension of The Muppet Show or Sesame Street but something whose corny humor has largely withstood the test of time. Despite being a story filled with fuzzy puppets this film tells a narrative about the worthiness of following your dreams and the responsibility you have to others when they begin to believe in you. It touches on deeper and bigger things and wraps it all up in something silly making it go down easy.

It cannot be said enough of how the song “Rainbow Connection” perfectly sets the tone for the film. Not only that little bit of music but that opening scene perfectly embodies the spirit and tone of this movie. It implies power in wishes and dreams. It is dreamy and wistful and speaks of Kermit’s desire to be something more. Kermit is following his heart and chasing his dream and his quest pulls others in along the way.

There are more catchy songs in this movie than you would find in just about any Disney film. While “Rainbow Connection” is the best, there are plenty that you will find yourself humming or tapping your feet along with. Paul Williams and Kenneth Asher crafted a grossly underrated soundtrack. Have you ever heard “Movin’ Right Along”? Try NOT to sing along with that when it comes on!

One of the big draws in my opinion are the numerous celebrity cameos present in this film. Dom DeLuise plays the Hollywood agent who inspires Kermit to go to Hollywood. James Coburn as the owner of the El Sleezo Café. Madeline Kahn is all but Lili von Shtupp from Blazing Saddles. Telly Savalas is a tough at the El Sleezo. Carol Kane shows up when summoned by her character’s name of “Myth.” Paul Williams is a pianist in the El Sleezo. Milton Berle is used car salesman Mad Man Mooney. Elliott Gould is the announcer at the Bogen County Beauty Pageant. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy play judges at the Bogen County Beauty Pageant. Bob Hope is an ice cream vendor at the Bogen County Fair. Richard Pryor is a balloon vendor at the Bogen County Fair. Steve Martin is a jerky waiter working at a restaurant. Mel Brooks is mad scientist Professor Max Krassman who is hired by the story’s villain. Cloris Leachman is studio secretary Miss Tracy. And the great Orson Welles is Hollywood producer and studio executive Lew Lord.

They may not all be known to the general audience today, but this was some great talent of the era showing up for a brief joke. I admit when I first saw this I didn’t know who all of them were as I was either too young or just not aware of their work. James Coburn was probably the biggest surprise to me as an adult. I remember the scene he shows up in very well but until I watched it again having been exposed to some of his work, I did not know who he was. He executes his moment perhaps as good as any of the professional comedians.

But we’re not limited to human celebrities showing up here. Oh no! I do believe just about every member of the cast of The Muppet Show makes an appearance-small or large. While the narrative does focus on the core members of the cast it gives a little bit of a shout out to everyone they can easily fit in without making the appearance feel forced. They even manage a cameo by Big Bird who in a bit of a metajoke is on his way to break into public television.

The genius of this film is that it’s not only great comedy for adults but great comedy for kids as well. It’s something you can watch and enjoy as a group or by yourself. There’s nothing horribly inappropriate or generally offensive. It’s safe comedy that’s actually funny. And it is family friendly stuff that doesn’t treat any potential viewers as emotionally fragile or stupid.

The Muppet Movie is alternately moving and silly fun filled with humor that you might feel a little guilty laughing over. Entertainment was clearly the goal as everyone was just have fun up on screen. That joy translates to the audience. And mixed in with all that is a message of friendship, following your dreams, and the responsibility that comes from others believing in you.

The villain of this all is businessman, entrepreneur, and fried frog leg restaurateur Doc Hopper (Charles Durning) who is a genuine threat to Kermit the Frog. Doc Hopper runs a chain of fried frog leg restaurants and wants to use Kermit as a singing and dancing spokesman. As a kid you will think this was just mean. As an adult you realize just how messed up that is.

And as I said this movie packs some real filling in the whole film. There is an important scene in the desert where the group’s car has broken down and it looks like they will not make it to the auditions to get the standard rich and famous contract. Kermit is feeling the weight of the responsibilities he has inadvertently taken on to not only himself, but others and he has an internal dialogue that’s not only moving but offers a great moral lesson. All this in a movie with fuzzy puppets.

And another impressive thing is that The Muppet Movie has some truly great cinematography at points. The best being the opening sequence with the helicopter shot over the swamp. I’m not talking it’s epic but for what this is I would not expect it. And that’s probably why this movie is so good and just generally enduring. They treated the material seriously. While it does contain puppets and a lot of silliness, they treated it as if it was any significant project that was filled with human actors.

The Muppet Movie is just a fantastic film. It has a great plot and a smoothly moving script and it’s something you can watch by yourself or with your family. The jokes mostly work as good now as they did then and you will be left feeling good when the credits roll. All with a character driven humorous story that touches on deeper things. This is a must see!

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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