MOVIE REVIEWS: Muppets Most Wanted (James Bobin, 2014)

Muppets Most Wanted

Alright, here is what I believe to be my last film review for a while. After the release of The Muppets the entire world became mad for the Muppets! Because of this, the Muppets continued doing more things. They were featured in a number of productions, appearing in online videos and music videos. One of those videos includes the incredible CeeLo Green Christmas video, All I Need is Love (Marc Klasfeld, 2012). IT WAS AWESOME! The Fraggles even appeared in a Ben Folds music video, Do It Anyway (Phil Hodges, 2012). IT WAS AWESOME! The Muppets also made a Christmas TV special with Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga and the Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular (Gregg Gelfand, 2013). It…was not anything spectacular (although, I do love the scene where Piggy sings “Santa Baby”). The Muppets also appeared in commercials advertising Lipton Tea, Subway, and Toyota. (Watch the commercial they made with Terry Crews – it is too wonderful!) With all of this success, it made sense not only to have the Muppets appear in mainstream media more, but to also make more productions focused on them. What does that mean? MORE MOVIES!!! Enter Muppets Most Wanted (James Bobin, 2014)!!! Made by almost all the people who made the last movie (director, writers, producers, composer, song writer, etc.) and released almost 35 years after The Muppet Movie, this is a direct sequel to the last Muppet movie. This is a very unique kind of Muppet movie for that exact reason. Muppet movies have never been connected to one another, which was one of the fun things about them. They could do whatever they wanted. Here, there is a connection to the last movie they made. That’s not a bad thing, though. In fact, there aren’t that many connections to the last movie. The filmmakers could have reworked this and made it another stand alone Muppet movie. But the connections are clever enough that they actually do work for the movie. But let’s stop wasting time and just get into the review.

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: As a lot of people have already stated, the story of this film is very clever and funny. A Russian Kermit look-alike named Constantine is the world’s number criminal, most dangerous frog, and an expert with explosives. He escapes a Russian gulag in order to pull off the greatest criminal stunt in the world: stealing the Crown Jewels of England. In order to do this, his right-hand man, Dominic Badguy (played by Ricky Gervais), convinces the Muppets to go on a world tour (which isn’t really much of a WORLD tour, seeing as how the only continent they travel is Europe). Dominic and Constantine sets Kermit up to be taken away to the gulag in Constantine’s place, and the two criminals are now controlling the tour. They perform in the cities that will get them closer to Crown Jewels. However, they’re being followed by Sam the Eagle and French investigator Jean Pierre Napoleon (played by Ty Burrell) because they believe the Muppets have something to do with the robberies all over the country. While this is happening, Kermit is being held in prison against his will by Russian prison guard Nadya (played by Tina Fey).
This is a really clever idea! I love that there are, in a sense, 2 Kermits who are absolutely nothing like each other! We’ll address that more when we talk about the comedy, but watching Constantine trying to convince everyone around him that he’s Kermit is more than entertaining. It’s much more believable then Kermit and Fozzie being twins for no reason!
I do agree that maybe there’s a little too much focus on the villains’ plan. On one hand, I do like Constantine! I love it anytime he’s on the screen, and I’ll take as much as I can get! However, if we are supposed to be rooting for our main heroes then we should have more time with them. I think that all the time we spent with Constantine and Dominic could have been given to the others. Let’s see more of Piggy’s feelings about what’s going on. How conflicted is Walter? How distressed is Kermit? It’s hard to say what exactly will do the trick to fix this because I do know all of these characters, I know what their intentions are, and I know how they feel. All I’m saying is that we don’t spend as much time with our heroes as we do with our antagonists, thus it makes it tricky to entirely feel the weight of what they’re going through and truly sympathize and root for them.
I hear that there’s a lot of stereotyping in this film. I don’t know a lot about European stereotypes, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see that in some places. Why the crud are there leprechauns in the theater in Ireland? How come Napoleon takes frequent long breaks and vacations? How come all of his possessions are so small? I am strongly against stereotyping, but…this didn’t bother me at all…Well, the leprechauns kind of bothered me, but I was fine with everything else. Nothing else was really offensive to me. Most of the time, I see stereotypes in films as offensive because the jokes were too mean-spirited. Maybe those filmmakers actually thought people in a certain demographic behave a certain way or talk a certain way. Perhaps the filmmakers are probably just exploiting the mess out of those stereotypes to cause audiences to have a specific perspective on different people and cultures. It could be that filmmakers are just trying to make a lazy and easy joke so that they don’t have to try and work as hard. But I didn’t get any of that here. I felt these jokes were lighthearted and innocent enough that everyone could laugh at them, even people in Europe. It’s like a person who teases everyone, including him or herself, but in good spirits. The jokes never become too mean, and thus everyone is able to have a good laugh. That being said, I’m not going to say that you shouldn’t be offended by any of these stereotypes. If something offended you in this film, you have every right to be offended – no one can stop you from feeling a certain way. Just know that there are much harsher ways to make these kinds of jokes; especially coming from Disney, this could have been a lot worse!
The major theme in this movie is sort of one of the themes from the last Muppet movie. Remember when Kermit told Piggy, “I need you?” Well, in this film, the rest of the Muppets realize that they need Kermit. They want Kermit in their lives. That may seem like a simple message, especially for adults, but I really like it. I like the idea that we need interaction and a close bond with other people. One of the most important things in life isn’t that we can do whatever we want – it’s the people that help make living worth wild. After the Muppets got everything they wanted but were beginning to lose some of the most important people around them – Fozzie, Animal, Walter, and Kermit – they realized they didn’t need those wild and crazy luxuries anymore. They wanted their friends, the special people in their lives. I think that’s an important message for people, especially in this day in age. I know folks have gone on and on about it, but some many people are closed off from reality and from people thanks to the increase in popularity of technology and the internet. Rather than investing in a relationship with other human beings, a lot of people spend much more time investing in internet videos, blog pages, cell phones, iPads, and the works. I think this is an important message for them, and a good reminder for the rest of us.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED

HUMAN STARS, NEW MUPPETS, & CAMEOS: I must say that I think this film probably has the best cast of live-action human stars out of all the other Muppet movies! None of these people are dull, forgettable, or boring! Let’s talk about them!
1) Dominic Badguy – What really makes Dominic work in this movie is Ricky Gervais’ ability to interact with all of the Muppets like they’re actual people! He never treats them like they’re just puppets. He’s never winking to the camera. He’s not like an adult talking down to a child. He is a well-functioning being talking to another well-functioning being. It’s so genuine and honest, you almost forget that the Muppets are puppets yourself. Gervais also dedicates so much passion and energy into this film. He totally gets sucked into the story and into his character. I don’t see Ricky Gervais, I see an intelligent criminal who works under a frog. He’s funny, he’s honest, he’s the bad guy, Dominic Badguy!
Muppets Most Wanted - Dominic Badguy
2) Jean Pierre Napoleon – This guy is hilarious! A lot of that is, obviously, due to the fact that it’s Ty Burrell in the role! Another reason he works so well is because he’s sized up so perfectly with Same the Eagle! Sam is so stereotypically American while Jean is so stereotypically French! It’s so funny! His accent is funny, his dialogue is funny, his actions are funny. He’s so close to being a live-action Muppet himself, in fact! That’s really the best way I can describe this character, he is almost a live-action Muppet! If you mix Ty Burrell’s Jean Pierre Napoleon with Tim Curry’s Long John Silver from Muppet Treasure Island, you’d either have the perfect or too much of a live-action Muppet on your hands! I love Jean!
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
3) Nadya – Nadya is also a lot of fun! She’s more reserved than the other two live-action human stars. For the most part, she’s calm, rational, and sane. What I like about this character is that she’s not always over-the-top. She definitely has moments when she is, but she’s very reserved throughout much of the film. However, when she does go over-the-top, she is really funny. I love her trying to sing along with the inmates during the auditions for the review show. I love her affection for Kermit. I love her throwing up her arms in the air as she looks straight up and shouts “Kermit!” All of that is so funny and so good! It shows the different sides of her character, and it’s more than entertaining. Of course, Tina Fey is a great comedic actress already, so what did you expect?
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
4) Prison King, Danny Trejo, and Big Papa – Jemaine Clement, Danny Trejo, and Ray Liotta star in this movie as Gulag 38B inmates! I know a lot of people consider these actors cameo stars in the film, but they’re in the film so much that I have to consider them cast members. Their characters are very funny, but what makes them even funnier is if you know the actors themselves. Danny Trejo, Machete! – is singing and dancing in this number! Ray Liotta was trying to take out Denzel Washington in John Q (Nick Cassavetes, 2002), and now he’s auditioning for Kermit the Frog! Jemaine Clement…OK, I don’t know who he is; but that’s OK because his character is still funny. Anything with these guys and the other Gulag 38B inmates is fantastic! I love them all so much!
Muppets Most Wanted - Prison King, Danny Trejo, Big Papa

Alright, let’s get to the new Muppet introduced in this film, Constantine! I FRICKIN’ LOVE CONSTANTINE!!! He is amazing! He is one of the funniest Muppets created since Jim Henson’s days! Most of my favorite moments in the film include him! I love how diabolical and smart he is! I love it when he sings! I love all of the funny things he says and does! I know I said one of the problems with the story is that it doesn’t focus on the heroes as much as the villain, but Constantine is so likeable and entertaining that I don’t regret spending all of that time with him! He’s wonderful! Since the Muppets are making more productions and they’re releasing a new TV show next month, I hope that means I get to see a lot more of this guy!
Muppets Most Wanted - Constantine

Like the last film, there are a slew of cameo guest stars in this movie; it’s a “who’s who” game with the audience! Zach Galifianakis is back to reprise his role as Hobo Joe. We’ve also got Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Hugh Bonneville and Tom Hollander, Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Rob Corddry, Salma Hayek, Tom Hiddleston, Frank Langella, Bridgit Mendler, Debby Ryan, Ross Lynch, James McAvoy, Chloe Grace Moretz, Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl, Usher Raymond, Miranda Richardson, Saoirse Ronan, Til Schweiger, Russell Tovey, and Christoph Waltz. In deleted scenes, or the extended version on the Blu-ray, you can see Tyrel Jackson Williams, Debby Ryan, Peter Serafinowicz, Dexter Flecther, and Jake Short. Again, I don’t know much about any of these stars, so my favorite will depend solely on their role in the film. I love Josh Groban’s reveal at the end of the movie – I love how he spent the entire film locked in a sweatbox! I love Celine Dion’s appearance as Piggy’s fairy godmother! The two of them singing this silly song together is amazing! must say, though, I think my favorite cameo is Stanley Tucci as Ivan. I ADORE that joke centered around his appearance! It is so hilarious, and I always look forward to that moment whenever I watch this movie!
Muppets Most Wanted - Stanley Tucci

SONGS/MUSIC: Christophe Beck and Bret McKenzie are back to bring us some more great music! The score can be whimsical, dramatic, and soothing. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Beck’s score, though! McKenzie goes all out to bring us some more amazing songs that add to the hilarity of the film! I need to say now that these songs will be judged solely on how entertaining they are. With a movie like this, it’s hard and pointless to say whether or not they continue the story or give us character development. They can, but these songs are here merely to entertain us. With that said, let’s take a look at these songs!
1) We’re Doing a Sequel: This is a great opening to a Muppet movie! It reminds me a lot of “Hey A Movie!” from The Great Muppet Caper. The song basically allows us to sit back and have a great time. The melody is so fun and memorable; I can’t help but dance every time I hear it! I love all of the jokes and references in this number. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew even mentions that “this is the seventh sequel to [their] original motion picture” – that is both true and funny! It’s enjoyable, it’s memorable, it’s funny, and it’s a grand opening! I love this song

(This is the best version I could get.)
2) I’m Number One: This is another enjoyable number. Again, the tune is fun, memorable, and danceable. As I mentioned already, I love Constantine, so the thought of him singing is incredible to me! He shows that he’s not just diabolical, but he is also a talented entertainer. He can dance, he can sing; maybe if he wasn’t being a criminal master mind, he could have created his own touring concert. I actually do feel sorry for Dominic during this number. He has to answer to a frog! Man, what is his life anymore? I must thank this song, though, for giving me the awesome phrase, “Dance, monkey, dance!” That is so hilarious! Just walk up to your friends and family and say, “Dance, monkey, dance!” It’s hilarious!

3) The Big House: This song isn’t as memorable as most of the others, but it’s still entertaining enough. We have a singing Russian Tina Fey – how cool is that? This is an interesting choice of style for the song. Why did McKenzie choose to go this route? I don’t know, but it makes it fun. This song does remind me a little but of the “Happiness Hotel” number from the Great Caper film…Huh. I knew the filmmakers were inspired by that film, but I didn’t know they’d try to redo EVERYTHING. Well, anyway, this song is pretty enjoyable. It’s a toe-tapper, it’s funny, and it makes me want to be sent to a Russian gulag as well. So long as Tina Fey is the warden and Clement, Trejo, and Liotta are my backup singers and dancers, I’m good!

(This is the best version I could get.)
4) I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu): This song is…strange. Don’t get me wrong – it’s funny, entertaining, and memorable like the other songs, too. But…it’s so weird. In this scene, Constantine, posing as Kermit, goes to talk Piggy and tells her that he can give her whatever she wants. He then spins around, is wearing a 1970’s disco suit, and…starts this song. It just comes the butt out of nowhere and has almost nothing to do with anything. But it’s so funny! A fan is blowing on Constantine, he wipes vasoline on the camera lens, he gives Piggy a thingy-thing…OK…It’s so odd…but so funny! It’s not my favorite song in the film, but it’s still an entertaining number!

5) Interrogation Song: When I first heard this number, I immediately fell in love with it! This is one of the best songs in the film! True, there’s no real melody for the characters to sing, but we don’t need one here. Ty Burrell and the Muppets do a great job speaking rhymes in rhythm. It’s hard to say what exactly makes this song work. Maybe it’s seeing how each Muppet respond to the accusations in character. Maybe it’s Sam the Eagle and Burrell’s character accusing the Muppets. Perhaps it’s just watching the two of them acting off of each other. It could be seeing Burrell in a musical number. Possibly it’s the music that accompanies the song. Maybe it’s all of those elements. I don’t know, but this song is great! I look forward to hearing it anytime the movie is on!

6) Something So Right: YEEEESSSSSSS!!!!! I LOVE this song! THIS is my favorite song in the movie! It sounds so sweet and soulful! This does sound like an R&B duet, and it’s so fantastic! I love the incredible lead vocals of Piggy and Celine Dion! I love it when the other Muppets join in and sing as well! Their voices – particularly Dr. Teeth, Floyd, and Rowlf – really contribute to the style of the song. I love that this musical number is shot like a music video; it’s so much fun! Why wasn’t this song nominated for an Oscar? If “Man or Muppet” was nominated and won, why couldn’t this song? I don’t know, but it ticks me off! This song is wonderful, and it always makes me smile!

7) Together Again: I wanted to address this song because it is an original Muppet song. You may remember that this song, written by the late and the great Jeff Moss, was first played in The Muppets Take Manhattan in 1984. It’s always nice to hear a classic Muppet song in a new Muppet film. It’s done really well here. We hear all the Muppets singing this number, and we see all the cameo stars singing it as well. I guess it makes sense to have this song in the film, seeing as how Kermit was apart from the Muppets for much of the movie and now they’re all together again. But do you remember when it Bobo and Uncle Deadly sung this song a bit and Walter played it on the piano in the last film? Hmm…Disney is really trying to get this song that Sony owns, aren’t they…Sony does own the rights to the song, right, seeing as how they own the rights to the film? I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a joy to hear it at the end of this film. It’s great and nostalgic!

PUPPETRY: In this section, I’ll be addressing all of the special effects. Let’s start with the traditional art of puppetry. These films keep trying to improve what they can do with these characters more and more. We constantly see a lot of head to toe on these characters. This film might contain the most number of full-bodied Muppet scenes out of all the other movies…Maybe. We even see a full Kermit walking on a table during the “Big House” number! It looked so real and natural, like he was walking effortlessly! Whenever we get any head to toe on a character, it looks natural! It doesn’t look like a radio controlled Muppet or anything like that. The characters just move naturally, like they are really alive! That’s no easy feat, and I think it’s pretty awesome! One of the main feats that impressed me was Constantine’s thumb. Throughout the film he’s always pressing a detonator, and his thumb really moves on it! Even during the scene where he’s watching a tape of Kermit, his thumb is pressing down on the remote! How did they do that?!? That is so cool! I’ll also say that Matt Vogel did a great job making Constantine look different than Kermit. Of course Constantine was built to look angrier and a bit different from Kermit, but Vogel added a lot of weight to his walk and movements as well. Whereas Kermit’s walk is much lighter and smoother, Constantine is heavier, almost as if he’s stomping to get to where he has to go. I also love his facial expressions. Constantine sort of has a permanent frown on his face. Even when he’s smiling, laughing, or just talking to someone, you can still see that frown that never leaves. It’s kind of funny!
The blue screen effect does not work to the film’s advantage. I’m always aware when the characters are standing in front of it because nothing in the background looks natural. The main place this becomes obvious is near the end of the film when all of the action takes place on the roof of the Tower of London. Nothing in the background looks real. On one hand, I guess it made sense to shoot that scene in front of blue screen since the Muppets had to stand on top of each other. But…couldn’t they have just worn blue suits? A scene that long shouldn’t be shot in blue screen because we not only recognize the effect, but it’s also distracting from everything else going on.
Finally, I’m not a fan of the CG used in this film. Maybe I’d feel better about it if it looked better, but it doesn’t look great. It’s pretty bad. I can tell whenever someone is being transposed into CG, and, again, it’s really distracting. I remember Constantine fighting off the guards as he escaped the gulag, Constantine hoping around during “I’m Number One,” and all the Muppets and cameos stuck on the wall singing “Together Again.” It looks unnatural, and it takes me out of the moment. I will say this, though: I respect the fact that they combined the techniques of puppetry and CG instead of just using CG. I can still tell that Constantine is always being performed by a puppeteer, not computer animated. The reason for this is because James Bobin said that one of the great things about the Muppets is that they are really there. They’re real – you can touch them. Too many films today use CGI to animate the main characters, and that’s always distracting because we all know they aren’t there. But Bobin insisted on having the Muppet performers controlling the characters so that we could still feel our characters are there. On the one hand…those CG moments are distracting because I can obviously tell that the characters are composited to CG. On the other hand, though, I’m glad that he’s preserving the relationship we have with the Muppets by keeping them in the film and not replacing them with CG. And who’s to say why they used CG in the spots that they did? Perhaps it was absolutely necessary – I don’t know. I can say, though, that I think Bobin has a great respect and understanding of Jim Henson’s Muppets. Whenever they make their next film, I hope he gets called to direct it again!
Muppets Most Wanted - Puppetry

COMEDY: When I heard a lot of people comparing this film to The Great Muppet Caper, I got really excited! As you may know from my other reviews and my Top 10 Favorite Muppet Productions list, that film is not only my favorite Muppet movie, but one of my favorite comedies ever! You can imagine that I was expecting a lot of great jokes and constant breaking of the fourth wall. And…I sort of got that. The film doesn’t break the fourth wall nearly as much here as the Great Caper did, and that’s where a lot of the comedy was. A lot of the comedy in the last film came from breaking the fourth wall as well! Whenever the Muppets do break the fourth wall, in this movie it’s really funny! In fact, my favorite joke in the film takes place when they address Walter joining the Muppets in their last movie! I wish they could have done it more, but that’s just what I wanted to see. Let’s dive deeper into the comedy that’s actually here.
A lot of the jokes come from references to other films. They parody movies like The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994), The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991), The Spy Who Loved Me (Lewis Gilbert, 1977), Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962), and others. These are some great classics and old capers for the film to satirize. The problem with that is these moments won’t be funny to people who haven’t seen these films. I haven’t seen any of these movies, so I couldn’t supply a laugh for these jokes. The Great Muppet Caper satirized some films as well, from what I’m told. But the comedy didn’t come from whether or not you understood any of those references. I don’t know a single movie that film parodied, and it’s still funny! That’s because the comedy came from the situations and the characters. If you took away the references, the film can still stand up on its own! Here, a lot of the jokes come from movie references, so they can be hit-and-miss with the audience.
That being said, however, the other jokes are really funny! A lot of that comes from the characters and the songs. As I said before, the human cast for this movie is unbelievable! I love them all, none of them are dull, and they invest so much into this film! All of the songs are funny and more than entertaining! The Muppets deliver, as they always do! I love every scene with Constantine! They make me laugh, and they make me laugh hard! At the end of his first scene, he emerges out of a swampy lake and says “It’s time to light the lights.” THAT IS SO AMAZING!!! The way he says it, the fact that he’s referencing The Muppet Show theme song, his accent – IT’S TOO GREAT! I also love what he says to Fozzie once he and Walter figured out his plan; he says “You have wockaed your last wocka, bear.” I CAN’T EVEN SPEAK ON HOW FUNNY THAT IS!!!…Huh. That’s the second “Wocka” joke a Muppet movie gave us…I can’t think of a joke that doesn’t work in this film. I know I haven’t seen the films they’re satirizing, but other people have. In fact, now that I know they were satirizing something, I can give a bit more of a laugh than I gave before. In my opinion, their best jokes are the fourth wall jokes, Constantine trying to impersonate Kermit, and any references to other Muppet productions.
I’ll end with this: if you haven’t seen the Extended Version of the film on Blu-Ray, get it! Not only does it answer some questions, but it also provides a lot more hilarious jokes! One involves the Muppets literally breaking the fourth wall. It’s so corny…but so funny! I love my DVD copy, but after picking up the Blu-Ray version from the library, I can definitely recommend that!
Muppets Most Wanted - Comedy

CONCLUSION: I really love this movie! Sure I could have used some more comedy, and I’m not crazy about the special effects they used. But I love everything else about it! The comedy we did get was really funny! The puppetry doesn’t disappoint at all! The songs are overwhelmingly fun (and should have been nominated for an Oscar)! The characters – Muppets and live-action humans – are absolutely entertaining and enjoyable! The story is engaging and creative! I wish this had been a bigger commercial success than it was, but let’s not act like it was a failure or a disappointment. Critics still enjoyed this film. Audiences enjoyed this film. It did make some money in the box office. It may not have lived up to the greatness of The Muppets, but I don’t think it was supposed to. For as great and wonderful as that film was, let’s not forget that it was the Muppets’ comeback, their revival. You can’t have a grand comeback twice within three years! This film just wanted to be a fun and loving Muppet film, and that’s exactly what it is! I love this film, and it now fits somewhere on my Top 10 Favorite Muppet Productions list…I don’t know, maybe it’s Number 7 or 8 (just don’t tell Constantine I said that). If you haven’t seen it yet, go to the store and buy it! If you’re a fan of the Muppets, you won’t regret it!

Let me end on this final note: I’m really glad I was able to review these film during the 60th anniversary of the Muppets! Yes, the Muppets have been around for 60 years now! Since 1955, they have been entertaining us, and I’m so glad that they are still e You all know about their new show coming out this month, don’t you? On Tuesday, September 22, The Muppets (Bob Kushell and Bill Prady, 2015) will air at 8:00 pm on ABC!!! It’s going to be great! Tune in and watch it – we’re in for a great show!…I’m doing a lot of free advertisement today…It’s the Muppets – I owe them! Thank you all for keeping up with these reviews! I’m sure I’ll post more later, but it’ll be a while. More poems will come out later. God bless you all, I love you, and HAPPY 60TH BIRTHDAY, MUPPETS!!!!!

Muppets Most Wanted - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Muppets (James Bobin, 2011)

The Muppets (2011)

If you read my Top 10 Favorite Muppet Productions list, you know that I was not the least bit excited for this movie when it came out? Why? Because not only were the Muppets breaking up and being sold to different companies, but they also hadn’t been releasing good productions since the end of the ’90s. After The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, the Sesame Street Muppets sold to Sesame Workshop in 2000. Later we had the straight-to-video film Kermit Swamp Years (David Grumpel, 2002). Later that year, we got a TV movie, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (Kirk R. Thatcher, 2002). In 2004, the Jim Henson Company sold the rights to the Muppets (Kermit, Piggy, and friends – not Fraggle Rock) over to the Walt Disney Company. (I will always rue the Muppets being owned by Disney!) In 2005, the Muppets released another TV movie, The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (Kirk R. Thatcher, 2005). THIS IS THE WORST THING THE MUPPETS HAVE EVER DONE!!!!! Then there was Elmo’s Christmas Countdown Gary Halvorson, 2007), Studio DC: Almost Live (Kirk R. Thatcher, 2008), and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (Kirk R. Thatcher, 2008). All of these productions were mediocre at best. They had nice moments, but as a whole they did not work at all. They were pretty bad. In 2009, the Muppets began producing YouTube videos to reintroduce the Muppets to the younger generation. Their most famous video is their rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It was great, but I still wasn’t looking forward to this new film – I knew it would suck. It seemed as though I was the only one who felt that way, because everyone else was really hyped for this film! Everybody talked about it, all the critics praised it, and the Muppets were welcomed back to the forefront of mainstream. After I finally saw the movie over 7 months after its release, I must say…I fell in love with it as well. This film is AMAZING!!! I LOVE IT!!! This is one of my favorite films EVER!!! It is amazing how incredible and wonderful this movie is! Why do I love it so much? What makes this film so great? Let’s find out!

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is very engaging. One of the Muppets’ biggest fan, a young man named Walter, gets the opportunity to go to California with his brother, Gary, and Gary’s girlfriend Mary to see the Muppets Studio. However, he learns that an evil oil magnate, Tex Richman, is planning on tearing down the studio and drill for oil. Walter, Gary, and Mary find Kermit and tell him that the only way to save the studio is to raise $10,000,000. That means Kermit has to round up the gang, who has been broken up for a long time, and put on an old fashion telethon, Muppety style.
The story is good, but it’s very busy and full. There is so much going on in this story. (1) Walter wants to meet the Muppets. (2) Tex Richman has to make sure nothing comes in the way of his oil. (3) Mary wants to spend time with Gary, who is always looking over his brother. (4) Kermit has to round up all of the Muppets, that takes some time; especially when he has to convince Piggy to come back. (5) The Muppets have to convince a network to air their telethon, that’s a big deal. (5) The Muppets have to plan and rehearse their show, which is somewhat of a disaster. (6) Kermit can’t find a celebrity host. (7) The Muppets have to get the money they need to buy the studio back. It’s a lot! There’s is always something going on! It’s not necessarily bad seeing as how everything is so entertaining and they all have closure. However, it is a lot to take in. The earlier Muppet films were simple in their plots, and thus they had a lot of room to breathe. Here, the story is constantly moving.
That being said, however, the story isn’t bad at all. It gives us a lot of insight to our favorite characters. I like seeing what they’re doing when they’re not together. Gonzo owns a plumbing factory, that sounds about right. Piggy is the editor of plus-sized fashion in Paris, that’s perfect for her! Rowlf is relaxing and taking it easy in his home, duh! It all stays true to who these people are.
The entire movie stays true to who the Muppets are. I love that this film belongs to the Muppets. We see Gary and Mary in the beginning to sort of introduce the story, but we are ultimately looking at the Muppets. Unlike The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island, the Muppets don’t share the spotlight here. We are looking at Kermit. We want to see Kermit achieve his goals and learn something. I like watching Gary and Mary too, but the focus is not on them.
I think a lot of people were surprised by the number of emotional scenes in this film. There are a lot of tear-jerking moments in this movie! We’ll get to “Pictures in My Head” later. The nostalgia lies heavy when the Muppets sing “Rainbow Connection.” I read a comment when a lady said all the women and half the men were crying in the theater during this song. The other half of the men broke down when Animal began playing the drums. I always get emotional at the end, when the Muppets walk outside the theater to all of their fans cheering them on. It’s just wonderful to see people love and care for these wonderful characters! They’re so great to me, and I’m glad to see other people declare them as great too. As great as this moment is, though, my favorite moment is when they recreate the opening of The Muppet Show! From the time Scooter knocked on Jack Black’s door to the end of the theme song, I thought I was going to cry. It was so reminiscent of The Muppet Show, and it makes me smile wide! I love it!
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few things I didn’t like concerning this story. They’re not big, but they are things I want to address. First of all, some of my favorite Muppets don’t get too much screen time in this picture. Gonzo’s on screen for about 20-25% of the film, and I wanted to see more of him! He’s got a lot more time in front of the camera than Rizzo, however! Rizzo didn’t have any lines in the film! He was in 2 frames of the entire film: he was in the crowd when Kermit gave his speech to the Muppets, and he appeared with one of the groups of Muppets during the finale. ANGER! Unfortunately for me, Pepé does show up in this film. Thankfully he only has 3 lines, but that’s 3 more lines I’d like him to have. But my more serious problem occurs at the end of the movie. After Kermit’s speech, the Muppets are greeted by their fans, and the finale number, the movie says “The End.” But then, what happens? Tex Richman gets hit in the head and gives the Muppets their name and theater back! I’m not necessarily angry that he gave that stuff back to them. They definitely needed their name back if they were going to do more Muppet productions; they refer to their productions all the time. If the “Muppet” name was taken away from them, what would they had been called? I’m just disappointed with how they got their name and theater back. It’s rushed in 10 seconds as the credits are rolling. It’s funny, yes, but it still feels rushed and somewhat lazy, like it was a last minute thing. I just think the filmmakers could have been more clever in making that ending work better.
Since there’s a lot going on in the movie, you can imagine there are a lot of themes and messages too. I love Kermit’s speech toward the end about endurance and being strong is a great message. I love how Gary and Kermit learn not to let the love of their lives slip away from them. I LOVE the scene where Veronica shows the Muppets the type of TV shows that were currently popular, to show how crappy entertainment was. (I hated television in 2011.) My favorite lesson from the movie, though, is the one Walter learns. Gary tells him, “You always believe in other people, but that’s easy. Sooner or later, you’ve got to start believing in yourself; because that’s what growing up is, becoming who you want to be.” This was handled and conveyed with such care and delicacy. I was going through a little situation of my own when I first saw this movie, and that was the thing I needed to hear. I love that line, I love that moral, and I love how it was taught! Well done, movie! Well done!
The Muppets (2011). - Story

HUMAN CHARACTERS, NEW MUPPETS, & CAMEOS: I love this cast! These characters, these actors – they’re all so wonderful! This movie is also unique because it introduces a new Muppet to the franchise! Let’s get into it!
1) Gary – He’s a fun guy. There’s not a whole lot to say about Gary. Like most live-action human stars in Muppet movies, Gary is not the most engaging character. He’s alright, but he’s not that entertaining. I italicize “that” because Gary is funny. He’s not as entertaining as the Muppets, but that’s because it’s not his movie. However, he does have a lot of likeability to him! I love the humor that comes from him. I love his heartfelt moments with Mary and Walter. I like how relatable he is. He’s a good guy!
The Muppets (2011). - Gary
2) Mary – I feel almost the same way about Mary that I feel about Gary. I do find her more entertaining, though. She’s funnier to me. I think that’s because of how Amy Adams is playing her. Mary is kind of a wide-eyed bland woman, but Adams puts a lot of the energy into the comedic moments. I love watching her sing. I love all of the jokes that involves her. They are all too wonderful!
The Muppets (2011). - Mary
3) Tex Richman – This guy is amazing! I love Richman! There isn’t much development to him, and you wouldn’t really understand why he hates the Muppets so much unless you’ve heard the soundtrack. But that’s part of the joke. Richman is an over-the-top bad guy. What is so ironic about this, though, is that Chris Cooper plays him pretty reserved for the most part. It’s not until toward the end of the film that he becomes bigger in terms of physicality and volume. But I love how deadpan he can be! I just love him!
The Muppets (2011). - Tex Richman
4) Veronica – I don’t like this lady at all! Veronica is a rude, mean, cruel douche! I don’t like how she talks to Kermit! I don’t like how she disrespects the Muppets! I don’t like the show she airs on her network! And I don’t like the way she talked about Benson! She refers to it as if there’s a problem with it. What the crud is wrong with Benson? Crud you, Veronica! Crud you!
The Muppets (2011). - Veronica
5) Jack Black – Jack Black’s role in this movie is incredible! I really want to find an interview where he talks about his involvement and enjoyment in this film. I love his first appearance in the film, and I love the surprise of having him come back during the telethon! He’s the celebrity that always second guessed being with the Muppets on The Muppet Show! I love how “Tuesday” is one of his trigger words! Why is “Tuesday” a trigger word? That’s a whole day of the week you can’t say! It’s great! This guy is wonderful, and it was wonderful seeing him in the film!
The Muppets (2011). - Jack Black
It was wonderful seeing a new character to the Muppets. Walter is a great addition to the group! I was surprised when a lot of people were confused how Walter, a Muppet, could be the brother of Gary, a live-action human. I wasn’t so surprised. Not only have the Muppets done a joke like this before (Kermit and Fozzie being twins), but in the Muppet universe we’re supposed to accept these creatures as real. Kermit is a frog. Fozzie is a bear. Miss Piggy is a pig. And now, Walter is a human. He’s a human in the likeness of a Muppet, but he’s a human nonetheless. Why can’t we believe he and Gary are brothers?
Walter has an innocence to him that is very refreshing. He’s very sweet and optimistic. He’s very much like a child in an adult’s body. From having stickers on his headboard to his belief that everything will be OK in the end, Walter is the child we all know and love. It’d be easy to have a strong annoyance or dislike for a character like this, a sort of man-child. I don’t know if it was Jason Segel and Nicolas Stoller’s writing, if it was Peter Linz’s performance, James Bobin’s direction, or some sort of combination, but Walter is a very loveable and endearing character! It’ll be interesting to see how the studio continues to use him in the future, but I’m excited to see him appear again! It’ll be fun! Walter is a great guy!
The Muppets (2011). - Walter
There are a slew of cameos in this film! You really have to be careful not to blink, otherwise you’ll miss someone. I like that these cameos sort of serve the same purpose they did in the first Muppet film – it’s a “who’s who” game with the audience. Who’s going to appear next? As always, it’s just great to see current stars interact with the Muppets! I will say that I don’t get as excited over all of these celebrities because I don’t know all of them. I don’t know all the cameo stars from the earlier films, but I’m familiar with more of them than I am with the celebrities in this film; I just don’t keep up with modern pop culture. But of those who appear, we’ve got Bill Cobbs, Alan Arkin, Kristen Schaal, Eddie Pepiton, Sarah Silverman, Aria Noelle Curzon, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo, James Carville, Rico Rodriguez, Selena Gomez, John Krasinski, Neil Patrick Harris, Leslie Feist, Emily Blunt, Dave Grohl, Judd Hirsch, Jim Parsons, Zach Galifianakis, Mickey Rooney, and Whoopi Goldberg! Goodnents gracious, this may be the most number of celebrities to ever have a cameo in a Muppet movie! But that’s not all – some of the celebrities’ cameo scenes were cut. Those celebrities are Wanda Sykes, Kathy Griffin, Sterling Knight, Billy Crystal, Sarah Hyland, Danny Trejo, Ricky Gervais, and Rob Corddry. In fact, the latter three would go on to star in Muppets Most Wanted (James Bobin, 2014). I must say, though, that I read that Elmo was supposed to have a cameo in this film. He didn’t because Sesame Workshop and Walt Disney representatives could not come on good terms. CRUDDED WHAT?!? I NEED to see a Sesame Street Muppet have a crossover/cameo in a Muppet movie! That would have been so perfect! And it would have been great to see Elmo featured seeing as how his fame has grown so much since The Muppets Take Manhattan and A Muppet Family Christmas! SHAME ON YOU, DISNEY AND SESAME WORKSHOP! SHAME ON YOU!!! All of that aside, my favorite cameo in the film is Jerry Nelson! In his last Muppet role, he is the announcer in the Muppet Theater! He’s the one who says, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host: Kermit the Frog,” and “The Muppet Telethon will be back after this break!” This is the last role he had before he passed away in 2012. This is the man who performed many of our favorite Muppets like Robin the Frog, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Camilla the Chicken, Dr. Julius Strangepork, Pops, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Uncle Deadly, J.P. Grosse, Count von Count, the Two-Headed Monster, The Amazing Mumford, Sherlock Hemlock, Herry Monster, Gobo Fraggle, Pa Gorg, and many, many, MANY more. Rest in peace, Mr. Jerry Nelson!
The Muppets (2011). - Jerry Nelson
One more thing I have to say is it was great to see classic Muppets from The Muppet Show appear in the background AND foreground in this film! I’m talking about characters like Nigel, Lips, Wayne and Wanda, and Uncle Deadly! I was as familiar with that show as I am now when I first saw this movie. Imagine my surprise when I go back and watch The Muppet Show and I see many of the characters that fill the screen in this film! It is all too wonderful!
The Muppets (2011). - Muppets

SONGS/MUSIC: Oh boy, here we go! The music in this film is fantastic! The score is composed by Christophe Beck, who we’ve talked about before. His music is outstanding here, it adds to the tone greatly. He really feels the emotions our characters onscreen are feeling. Most of the songs are composed by New Zealand performer, Bret McKenzie. His songs are absolutely fantastic! These wonderful songs, written with such hilarity and heart, makes McKenzie’s songs as memorable and great as Paul Williams’ songs! Let’s talk about them.
1) Life’s a Happy Song: What’s funny about this song – the whole opening of the film – is that it should be something that people hate. Listen to the words! The characters are singing about how great and perfect they’re lives are. Doesn’t that annoy you? Doesn’t that make you angry? Doesn’t that tick you off? Depending on how someone tells you about their perfect life that has no problems, you’d be upset. But that’s thing: it’s the way they do it. Here, this life seems pleasant. It’s actually quite encouraging. This song doesn’t make me wish I was in Gary’s and Walter’s world; it makes me look at my world and say, “it’s a happy song!” It’s so welcoming and warm, you can’t help but smile when you hear this number! I love it!

2) Pictures in My Head: This song was written by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis, and Chen Neeman. I said in my review of The Muppets Take Manhattan that I was surprised when I heard that the “Saying Goodbye” number made people cry since I never cried when I heard it. THIS song, on the other hand, is a totally different story. Here’s the difference for me: in “Saying Goodbye,” I knew the Muppets would get back together in the end. My present was fine because I knew what was in the future. That movie also came out during a time when the world still went crazy over the Muppets. Here, Kermit’s singing about something that happened – something that really happened – very recently! It really felt as though no one cared about the Muppets, these characters we all knew and loved and wanted to see more of. My present was now gray and depressing because the recent past was sad. I felt the weight of emotion in Kermit’s voice and lyrics. I wanted to be one of those pictures on the wall so I could reach out and give him a hug! My goodness, this song is so sad! And didn’t you gasp and smile when you saw the pictures come to life and sing to him? And didn’t the smile quickly go away when you saw the portrait of Miss Piggy? MOST DEPRESSING MUPPET SONG EVER!!!!!

3) Me Party: I frickin’ love this song! This is the anthem for any person whenever they find themselves alone. I can’t help but sing and dance anytime I hear it! I know it doesn’t really have much purpose in the film, but that’s OK. It’s short, sweet, and entertaining! Again, it’s like the songs in The Muppet Movie! Let the disco music play, and enjoy your you party!

4) Let’s Talk About Me: I’m not going to lie, I really hated this song when I first saw this film. “Really,” I thought. “A rap number? There’s a stupid rap song in a Muppet movie – a stupid rap song that has nothing to do with anything?!” After time passed, I realized how wrong I was. First of all, much like “Me Party,” this song is short, sweet, and entertaining. Secondly, the Muppets have always been great at satirizing, and this song satirizes modern raps. Third, CHRIS COOPER IS RAPPING!!! That’s all I need! This song is hilarious, it’s wonderful, and it’s enjoyable!

5) Man or Muppet: Oh boy, here we are! I don’t know a person who saw this film that doesn’t like this number! This song was so great, it won McKenzie an Oscar!…Which was always confusing to me. This won an Oscar, but “Rainbow Connection” didn’t?…Oh well. This song is funny, genius, and catchy. It takes a hilarious spin on the traditional message of accepting who you are. The scale and the size of the production on this song is what makes it funny. I love this song so much!

6) The Muppet Show Theme Song: This song was, of course, written by Jim Henson and Sam Pottle. There’s not much to say about it except I love how they recreated this theme almost perfectly! Of course there are some differences between this and the original theme of the show, but look how close they were! And it’s wonderful to hear the voices of the original Muppet performers in this track! Listen carefully, and you can hear Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, and Richard Hunt! It’s wonderful!

7) It Smells Like Teen Spirit: What’s great about this film is that the Muppets are putting on sketches like they would on the original show. Here, they take a famous song and put a barbershop quartet spin on it! It’s funny!

8) Forget You: Chickens sing a CeeLo Green song? Golden!

9) Rainbow Connection: Oh, this will make you cry! Get the tissues ready!

10) The Whistling Caruso: This song was written and performed by Andrew Bird. It’s a very beautiful song. I can imagine hearing this in a classical opera. It just sounds so sweet and charming. It’s very lovely!

11) Life’s a Happy Song Reprise: For as much as I love the first rendition of this song, I love this version even more! It’s much more satisfying to hear all of the Muppets singing this song at the end after their happy ending! It’s endearing, it’s fulfilling, and it brings the story full circle. It’s just wonderful!

12) Mahna Mahna: Not only is it a great Muppet classic, but it’s still Jim Henson’s and Frank Oz’s voices on this track! The soundtrack to this film is awesome!

PUPPETRY: The puppetry in this film is really impressive! These characters look so alive and humanistic! Aside from the rats skating and scrubbing the stage in a montage in the middle of the film, there aren’t any scenes or moments that feature the Muppets pushing the envelope of puppetry like they did in their earlier films. However, just look at the way these guys move! The Muppets are doing things here that I’ve never seen them do before. To actually see the Muppets push a door open, pull a case open, or grab something is remarkable! Again, you have to remember these characters have rods on their wrists in order to really understand the significance of the work here. My favorite pieces of puppetry actually involve Walter. He doesn’t just part his lips to whistle – he actually puckers his lips! I loved watching him climb on the furniture and walk during the opening number. What really blew me away was him pulling the trigger on his water gun at the beginning of the film! Watch it – he’s pulling the trigger, and his hands aren’t built to do that! How was that accomplished?!? I don’t know, but it looks fantastic! I believe all of these characters are real!
The Muppets (2011). - Puppetry

COMEDY: There is no way I can talk abut the comedy of this film in its entirety. It is way too good! The comedy is so strong and so amazing! We’ve got a lot of great fourth wall jokes which, you may remember, the Muppets were always great at doing! When ’80s Robot suggested picking up the Muppets using a montage, Fozzie proposed driving by map, Gary referenced to the song and dance numbers he performed, or Mary made the comment that this would be a short movie – all of those were great and fantastic moments! They were appropriate! They were funny! They were always wonderful! I love the jokes that the characters said to give themselves a distinction. One of the best moments in the film (which is saying a lot) takes place whenever Tex Richman delivers a “maniacal laugh!” That is hilarious! How did Segel and Stoller come up with that?! It is so perfect! There’s no real reason for it, but gosh darn it if it’s not one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard in a movie! I also love the jokes that reference the other Muppet productions! When I saw Sweetums leaving Mad Mad Mooney’s to chase the Muppets in a car down the road, that was outstanding! I could not believe they put that in the film, but it worked so well! The only joke I don’t really get is the ’80s Robot. What’s the joke? Why exactly is that funny? I can tell that something is supposed to be funny about that, but I don’t get it. The things he does and says are funny, but the concept of ’80s Robot is confusing…Oh well, whatever! The comedic moments in this film are way too funny! The filmmakers clearly worked hard to make ALL of these jokes funny! There’s thought, there’s effort, and there’s talent! The filmmakers all knew that in order to make the heartfelt moments very emotional and powerful, they had to balance it all out with the lighthearted comedy that only a Muppet movie can bring! What can I say, folks? The comedy in this movie is top notch! It will have you laughing from beginning to end!
The Muppets (2011). - Comedy

CONCLUSION: I am so glad I was wrong about this movie! I do not believe I have ever been more wrong about a film than I was when this picture came out. Sure, I have a few problems with it, but they’re all very, very, very minor. This film brought audiences all over the world back to the characters we love! It reminded us why we love them so much! Their personalities and their spirits are so endearing. These characters made out of foam and fabric can so wonderfully and perfectly convey human emotions unlike anything else I’ve ever seen! This film totally embodies the spirit of the Muppets – the spirit of Jim Henson! This does feel like one of the earlier Muppet films! It’s great! It’s obvious that there was a lot of great care in making this film. Segel, Stoller, Bobin, McKenzie, and the rest of the crew worked as hard as they could to make a wonderful Muppet film, and they more than achieved their goals! This film is funny, memorable, impactful, emotional, and relatable! I love it, and I can’t wait to watch it again later! Thank you so very much, filmmakers, for this most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational movie! God bless you all!

P.S. Here are some of the amazing parody teasers that came out for the movie:

Jason Segel, James Bobin, Nick Stoller Bret McKenzie MUPPET MOVIE image

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (Gary Halvorson, 1999)

The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland

Oh boy, here we go. I know a lot of you were expecting to see my review of The Muppets (James Bobin, 2011) next, but I consider this a Muppet movie. It has Muppets in it, and it was even produced by the Jim Henson Company. I know I haven’t seen The Dark Crystal, Follow That Bird, or Labyrinth yet; and I know that a lot of people consider Muppets from Space as the worst theatrical Muppet movie, but…I give that distinction to this movie. Almost 15 years after the first Sesame Street movie, the Children’s Television Workshop (now known as the Sesame Workshop) decided to make a new one, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Yes, this film focuses on Elmo. Unlike a lot of people throughout the nation, I love Elmo! He is my second favorite Muppet of all time! He’s funny, he’s energetic, he yearns to help, and he loves learning. He’s not the reason I think this is a bad movie. What is the reason, then? Let’s find out.

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: Alright, here we are. The story is so stupid! Elmo’s best friend is his blanket (Elmo needs some friends), and he doesn’t want to share it with anybody; not even the person we thought he was best friends with, Zoe. It winds up falling in Oscar’s trashcan. When Elmo jumps in there to rescue it, both he and the blanket get sucked in a portal to Grouchland. Elmo finds out that his blanket, which was separated from him in the portal, was stolen by a mean man named Huxley who doesn’t like to share. He thinks he can take whatever he wants and make it his. Elmo eventually gets help from a young grouch named Grizzy, his Sesame Street family comes to Grouchland to try and save him, and the race for Elmo is on to save his blanket from Huxley.
OK, here’s what I don’t like about the story: IT’S STUPID!!! Both the story and the set-up is stupid! There’s a portal in Oscar’s trashcan that leads to a place called Grouchland?! WHAT?!?!? First of all, look at Oscar’s can. Does it look like it’s that big on the inside? How many times have people taken the can off that corner in the show? Second, there’s a portal that leads to a place called Grouchland? Is this where Oscar’s from? This is where he grew up? Does he have family here? Are there portals from Grouchland to other places around the country – around the world? This should be an Oscar-focused movie! You can’t give us a set-up like this and have it focused on the wrong character! We’re going to Grouchland for the first time, but we’re focusing on Elmo!?? We’re not learning anything about Oscar?!? What sense does that make?!!
The reason I dislike the story and the set-up is because they’re not realistic at all! There is nothing real about having a portal in a trashcan that leads to a whole different land. Yes, I know the show contains an 8’2″ tall bird, a grouch, and a bunch of monsters, a frog, and a vampire running all over the place. The thing, however, is that these characters, who are real to us, have encountered real situations. They’ve gone through marriages, childbirths, adoptions, deaths, and many other realistic events. They were displayed in a realistic way. Big Bird never had to travel to Monstropolis to learn about patience. We’ve kept it simple and real before; why can’t we do that now?
I don’t get the stakes in this film. I know that Elmo’s 3-and-a-half, but someone explain to me why it’s so important for him to get his blanket! Sure, he’ll be sad, but so what? Is there a more important reason for Elmo getting his blanket? And what about Huxley? Why does he need it so badly? What will he lose if he gives up the blanket? Why is it so important to him? What are the stakes?
Elmo is supposed to be the hero in film, obviously. However, the story caused him to do 2 things that kind of backfire against him. First of all, he committed the crime of breaking and entering. Yeah, he broke into Oscar’s trashcan! What’s up with that, movie? Why is Elmo turning to crime? Second of all, are we just going to look over the fact that Elmo ran away from home? Elmo ran away to fight an adult male for a blanket by himself…I CAN’T BE THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS A PROBLEM WITH THIS!!! (1) Elmo ran away from home (2) to fight and adult male (3) for a blanket (4) by himself. This is not the Elmo I know.
Let’s talk about the message. Obviously, the movie wants to teach kids about sharing our things with people. I have no problem with that message, but let’s look at how the movie conveys that. Zoe does pick up Elmo’s blanket without permission. He tells her to give it back to him, but she doesn’t. Elmo may not have been very nice to her, but she could have been more respectful. I’d like to see a children’s movie teach kids to respect the word “no.” Yes, it’s important to teach about sharing, but every kid isn’t going to share. Some kids are going to say, “This is mine. You can’t have it.” We have to teach kids to respect that and walk away.
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland - Story

CHARACTERS: I’m only going to focus on the main stars of the film. I’ll mention the other characters toward the end.
1) Elmo – As I said earlier, I love Elmo! Elmo is amazing! I love watching him on Sesame Street, and I really love watching him in interviews! Go to YouTube and look up any interviews with Elmo – they are hilarious! However, that charm doesn’t always come across in this movie. I actually do find myself being annoyed with Elmo here. Again, he ran away from home to go on some epic quest for a blanket. FAIL!!! What confuses me is that he went from being mean to Zoe and breaking into Oscar’s home to suddenly being nice to Grizzy. I don’t know – that just didn’t flow too well. I like the idea behind the things Elmo does: he figures out there’s more to him than he thought there was, he learns to be kinder to others, he goes on an epic journey, etc. I just don’t like the actions he does. They’re lame, and they don’t accurately represent Elmo.

With his cherished blue blanket at his side, 'Sesame Street's' lovable red monster, Elmo, makes his feature film debut in the Columbia Pictures/Jim Henson Pictures/Children's Television Workshop presentation, "The Adventures Of Elmo In Grouchland." Photo by James Bridges/handout (Scanned 9/30/99)

With his cherished blue blanket at his side, ‘Sesame Street’s’ lovable red monster, Elmo, makes his feature film debut in the Columbia Pictures/Jim Henson Pictures/Children’s Television Workshop presentation, “The Adventures Of Elmo In Grouchland.” Photo by James Bridges/handout (Scanned 9/30/99)


2) Huxley – Huxley is your basic over-the-top villain. He doesn’t really have a reason for his actions – there’s no stake to what he’s doing. Think about it, villains are villains for a reason; they are evil because they have something important they want. In The Lion King, Scar didn’t kill Mufasa because he felt like it. He did it because he wanted to be King, and getting rid of Mufasa would make him King. Huxley takes everyone’s possessions because…he wants it. OK…why the crud does he want it all? He has no motivation to his actions. He’s just that awkward man-child you’d never let your children come near. That being said, I will say that I do enjoy this character. He’s the most entertaining person in the film! Mandy Patinkin’s performance is absolutely enjoyable. He’s funny! He’s clearly enjoying this moment, and I can’t blame him. He may be in a crappy Sesame Street movie, but he’s still interacting with the Sesame Street characters! I’d enjoy it too. Plus, the eyebrows are insane! I don’t know who came up with that, but treat them to dinner or something!
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland - Huxley
3) The Queen of Trash – What in the crud? Why is this character here? No, really, she’s not that big of a deal, despite the fact that the movie talks her up as one of the main characters. I guess her scene is important because Elmo learns he was a jerk to Zoe, but that’s it! Did we need the song, the trash Muppets, and the Queen of Trash? If you take her away from this film, what do we lose? I’ll tell you what we lose: a sexy Vanessa Williams! Yeah, how come no one ever talks about how sexualized this character is? Look at how she’s dressed! Listen to how she talks! How did Katy Perry’s appearance on Sesame Street get so much controversy and this never did?! And what was up with her raspberry?! The raspberry scene was already weird, but what was up with her raspberry?!? It was so sexy! Who the crud raised their hand and said “I want a sexy raspberry?!?” Who would think of a sexy raspberry?!? Who the crud warranted or green lit the sexy raspberry?!? Did Williams get in the mirror and practice the sexy raspberry?!? Why would Sesame Street want to be associated with a sexy raspberry?!? STUPID SEXY RASPBERRY!!!!!
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland - The Queen of Trash
I’m excited when I see the great Sesame Street characters in the film, both Muppets and live-action humans. I love seeing Gordon, Maria, Bob, Susan, Luis, Ruthie, Gina, Count von Count, Baby Bear, Ernie, Bert, Oscar, Grover/Super Grover, Cookie Monster, Prairie Dawn, Zoe, Rosita, Telly, Bert, Ernie, and Big Bird! I love seeing these great and wonderful people I’ve grown up with; which is why I hate it so much that they’ve been given a backseat to the story and characters I care nothing about! I don’t care about Bug or the Pesties! If I’m not seeing Oscar’s interaction with the other grouches, why am I looking at them? Give me more of the Count! Give me more of Rosita! Let me see Bob and Gina more! I love them, and I want to see them! Step on Bug and make way for the real stars of Sesame Street!
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland - Characters

SONGS/MUSIC: The score was composed by John Debney, and the songs were written by…a lot of people. These songs don’t really leave an impact to the Muppet or Sesame Street franchise. When you think of legendary Muppet songs, you’ll more than often think of “Rainbow Connection,” “Movin’ Right Along,” and “It Feels Like Christmas,” just to name a few. These are great songs from the movies. The songs in this film…they’ll leave you humming for a little while, but they are not going to be the songs you think of when you try to name Sesame Street songs. They’re not as memorable, timeless, or charming. Let’s talk about them.
1) Together Forever: On the one hand, this is a nice and cute song. It describes a charming friendship between two people. It’s innocent. It’s almost even adorable. On the other hand, Elmo’s singing about a blanket. I’m sorry, I can’t get over that! Elmo, you have plenty of friends on the street – other monsters, a vampire, birds, humans, frogs, chickens, pigs, cows, snuffleupegases (I think that’s the plural form of that word), grouches! You’ve got so many friends to choose from, people who love you, and you hang out with your blanket?!? How does Dorothy feel about that? Whatever. If you can look beyond that, I guess the song is OK.

2) Welcome to Grouchland: This song confuses me. I understand we probably need a song about grouchland to help explain to us quickly what kind of place it is. I understand it’s an entire world where everyone’s an Oscar. What I don’t get is if these people hate singing, why the crud are they singing. They’re not even happy when the song begins, but they keep going. It’s as if this number is their national anthem. Why have a song for your anthem if you hate singing? Wouldn’t it have made more sense in this world if their anthem was just a chant telling people to get lost? The song, I guess, is alright. It tells us about this world we’re in now, but I don’t know why the grouches would sing about it if they hate singing.

3) Take the First Step: My feelings for this song are almost the same as my feelings for the last song, but I do like this song a lot more. On one hand, this is grouchland. Grouchland is entirely different from Sesame Street. Back on Sesame Street, everything and everyone sings and they’re almost always positive. In this world, then, everything and everyone should hate singing and almost always be negative. So, then, why is this plant and these animals so happy? Why are they singing? Shouldn’t they be saying “scram” or “stop sitting on me?” On the other hand…this song is a lot of fun! It’s actually my favorite song in the movie! When I was a kid, I loved this song. I remember it the most, almost every lyric. I like the message of the song, I like the style of the music, and I do like the singers. My like for this song is probably strongly tied to the nostalgic feel of it, and I can admit that. Regardless, this is probably the best song in the movie.

4) Make It Mine: Eh…it’s just another weird song. We don’t really learn why Huxley’s a jerk. He just sing about what a jerk he is. “Then I take it and I make it mine.” Why does he think he deserves everything in the world? Why is he a bully? Why does he steal? Who knows? Who cares? He’s just the antagonist. But, of course, Patinkin is entertaining. I don’t know if he saves this number, but it is worth watching and listening to because of him…if that makes any sense.

5) I See a Kingdom: As I said earlier, the entire scene this song takes place in does not make sense. It feel like a different movie. And this song introduces the scene. It’s a nice song, it’s actually pretty good! But why is it in this movie? This mystical, other worldly song about one’s perspective of the world doesn’t belong in a movie with a three-and-a-half year old chasing a grown man who’s holding his blanket hostage. It doesn’t work! The song itself is fine, and Vanessa Williams performs it wonderfully, but it does not belong in this movie. It has literally nothing to do with anything!

6) Precious Wings: Crud, I don’t even remember this song…It has Tatyana Ali…Yay…

PUPPETRY: It’s…alright, I guess. There aren’t too many moments in this movie that makes me say, “Wow, this puppetry is amazing!” Nothing surprises me. Nothing impresses me. In fact, it’s almost like watching an episode of Sesame Street. We see Super Grover flying, that’s cool. We see a full-figured Elmo walking and dancing during “Take the First Step,” that was fine. Nothing else really stands out. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the hard work the Muppet performers are putting into this, I do! But there’s not really anything here that I couldn’t see in another Muppet production.
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland - Puppetry

COMEDY: There’s not a lot to say about the comedy either. I didn’t find myself laughing that much. Ernie and Bert made me laugh in every other scene they were in. Huxley was so over-the-top that I couldn’t help but laugh at him. I like Big Bird trying to fit into Oscar’s can. The “When they take our goo, we gotta do” chant is awkwardly hilarious. Those are the main things I can think of that make me laugh. Everything else is just too confusing and weird for me to get into. The strange set-up is too strange for me to find most of these jokes funny.
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland - Comedy

CONCLUSION: I must admit, on one hand I do feel bad being so harsh to this movie. It’s clearly a film for children, and I did enjoy this movie as a kid…Then again, I also enjoyed Kermit’s Swamp Years (David Grumpel, 2002) as a kid. The movie means well, and a number of children do enjoy it. I guess I’m bitter with it for two reasons. Number one, Sesame Street is a lot smarter than this. This is the type of bad children’s film you’d see a lesser studio release. This wonderful franchise has given us fantastic, timeless characters who have taught us important lessons. Think of all of the wonderful, entertaining, and incredible moments Sesame Street has given us over the years. Do you think the same people who gave us those moments and that show would give us this movie? Secondly, I don’t think we should excuse the stupidity here simply because this is a children’s movie. Don’t children deserve good, smart, excellent entertainment? Shouldn’t we challenge a child’s mind and give them something that is lasting, something they’ll want to keep coming back to even when they’re older? That’s why I love Sesame Street so much! The show is made to entertain people of all ages; children can continue watching the show as adults because it has a lot to offer. This movie does not. If you or your children like this movie, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. However, I would strongly urge you to look into getting a film more challenging and engaging.
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: Muppets from Space (Tim Hill, 1999)

Muppets from Space

One month after Muppet Treasure Island, the Muppets brought a new show to television, Muppets Tonight (Jim Henson Productions, 1996-1998). It was a sort of updated version of The Muppet Show, but…it was bad. Very bad. It didn’t feel like a Muppet show, and the main Muppets we all know and love (Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Piggy) took a backseat to new Muppets who we can’t even name today…with the exception of a few. This introduced a dark time for the Muppets when their productions were…not very good. Mostly everything ranged from OK to HELP ME JESUS, HOW WAS THIS GREENLIT?!? I say most things because some of them were good. I hear Big Bag (Nina Elias-Bamberger, 1996-1998) was alright; I loved watching The Wubbulous World of Dr. Suess (1996-1997) as a kid; and Bear in the Big Blue House (Mitchell Kriegman, 1997-2007) was pretty popular among fans. But we also got Elmo Saves Christmas (Emily Squires, 1996) and Elmopalooza! (1998). But in the summer of 1999, it seemed as though the Muppets were due for another feature-length film. Enter Muppets from Space. This film came out during a time when a lot of sci-fi films were taking place. This was supposed to be the Muppets’ parody of that genre. By the sounds of that, this movie should be awesome, right?…Well, you’d think so. As a lot of you know, this movie is famous for being the worst Muppet movie ever made. Does it really deserve that title? Is it true? Well…let’s find out.

STORY: The story and the set-up are the most problematic elements of the movie. It just begs so many questions. First of all, who the crud wanted to know Gonzo’s species? Who was dying to know that? By the time this movie came out, Gonzo existed for over 30 years. That’s more than 30 years of us accepting him as a whatever. That’s his identity! That’s his character! We were all comfortable with that! We didn’t need to know his origins or his species! Second of all, this does, in all honesty, open the door for a mature set-up. Perhaps this could create some adult dialogue and situations with the Muppets. Gonzo wants to feel like he belong in a world where there’s only one of him – the conversations almost write themselves! So, what do we get here?…Gonzo is an alien…WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!? You choose to give us something a third grader could have thought of?!…I don’t even know what to say to that! Gonzo’s an alien. HUH?!?
As I said, this movie was supposed to be a parody to sci-fi movies. The problem with that is there doesn’t seem to be enough parody; and by enough, I mean none at all. This film seems to take itself way too seriously. We’re supposed to accept that Gonzo’s an alien. We’re supposed to believe there’s a government agency searching for Muppet extra terrestrials. Nothing in the film says that this is a parody or a joke. We’re just supposed to accept this story and that it exists within the Muppet universe.
It’s ironic that we’re supposed to take the story seriously because the script is a joke. The dialogue the characters speak is so strange. Listen to some of Edgar’s conversations with Rentro (Bobo the Bear). It’s too mature for children to understand, but it clashes with the story that is too juvenile for adults to take seriously. When Gonzo tells Kermit how he feels about being an alien, it sounds like a coming out speech. I can hear a closeted homosexual giving that same speech word for word.
I think the biggest problem is that this doesn’t feel like a Muppet movie. It feels like the Muppets attempting to make another kind of movie, a sci-fi/action-type of movie. There’s nothing wrong with those kinds of films, but it doesn’t feel very Muppety. If you’re going to make a movie for the Muppets, make a legitimate Muppet movie! Even though I have problems with Muppet Treasure Island, it still feels like a Muppet movie. This does not. The story takes itself too seriously – it is too absorbed in the genre it was supposed to parody – to feel like a classic Muppet movie.
Muppets from Space - Story

CHARACTERS AND CAMEOS: This should be interesting. In addition to talking about the main human stars and cameo guest stars, I’ll briefly address the new Muppets that appear in this film.
1) K. Edgar Singer – Edgar, like the story, is nothing new or interesting. He’s pretty dry. On paper, he’s as bland, boring, and dull as damp paper. However, Jeffrey Tambor’s portrayal of him makes this character so entertaining to watch! I love him! That is what a great actor or actress does: they take a person’s character out of the pages and breaths life into them! Tambor is not just a great comic, but he’s a wonderful actor as well. I love watching the choices he makes – the expressions he makes, both subtle and unsubtle. Tambor really does make this character and this movie a lot of fun!
Muppets from Space - K. Edgar Singer
2) General Luft – This character frustrates me. Not only is he boring, but he’s ignorant. Why wouldn’t he believe Singer’s reasonings that aliens are coming to earth? Even if he need more evidence, the proof he provided would have made me suspicious. I certainly would have thought, “Hmm. I should look into this more!” How in the world could the same message, “R U There,” show up all over the world as a practical joke? At least look into it more! Crud you, Luft! Crud you!
Muppets from Space - General Luft
This film does continue the Muppet film tradition of having celebrity cameo guest stars…As a whole, they don’t work well. In a traditional Muppet movie, you can have random celebrities show up for no reason. It’s a joke. It’s a funny joke. You can do that! Here, the story is too serious to have a joke like that work. Hollywood Hulk Hogan appearing out of nowhere doesn’t make sense! Kathy Griffin shows up just to be Animal’s new girl toy for the day. We’ve also got Ray Liotta, Josh Charles, Gary Owens (who lends a voice cameo), F. Murray Abraham, David Arquette, Andie MacDowell, Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes from Dawson’s Creek, and Rob Schneider. You might call me crazy for this, but Schneider’s actually my favorite cameo in this movie. This is one of the few restrained and non-offensive roles he’s played. It’s actually rather nice to see him do something like this.
Muppets from Space - Rob Schneider
Some of the newer Muppets from Muppets Tonight appear in this film. We’ve got Johnny Fiama and Sal Minella, Dr. Phil Van Neuter, Bobo the Bear (as Rentro), and Pepé the King Prawn. All of these characters are played by Brian Henson and Bill Barretta. I won’t lie, I didn’t like any of the new characters on Muppets Tonight. They weren’t funny, they weren’t relatable, they weren’t interesting, they weren’t charming. For the most part they yelled and screamed all the time, and that was their character. The only new character on the show that had a full personality was Bobo – and even then, I didn’t like him on the show. I like him in everything else he’s in, including this movie, but that was not the show for him. The character I’m surprised by how big he became was Pepé. He had literally no personality on the show! How did he get such a big role in this movie?! How did people find him so likeable and fun?! I would have loved if people went that crazy over Clifford! Clifford was miscast as the host of Muppets Tonight, but I still love his character! He’s so cool! And Clifford originated on The Jim Henson Hour in 1989 – he existed while Jim Henson was alive! I wish we got more of Clifford today! He brings a different feel to the Muppets that they didn’t have before, a more urban coolness to him. I love it! I love him!…But I digress.
Muppets from Space - PepeMuppets from Space - Clifford

SONGS/MUSIC: The score composer of the film is Jamshied Sharifi. The song composer…is an unfulfilled role in this film. Yeah, there are no songs in this movie. Ain’t that strange! This Muppet movie does not have any songs in it! Why would the filmmakers produce and create a new Muppet film without including great Muppet songs! This goes back to what I said earlier: this film feels like the Muppets trying to make another kind of film, a sci-fi and adventure-type film. It doesn’t feel like a legitimate Muppet movie! What was the last Muppet production you saw that didn’t have any songs? Every straight-to-video production, television show, TV special, and movie the Muppets ever made all included songs. Muppet Babies had songs, and that was animated!
There are songs in this movie, but they’re not new and the Muppets don’t sing them. They’re neo-soul/funk/R&B songs from the 1970s. I don’t know how or why this genre of music fits with the sci-fi genre of film, but…I’m not going to lie, I like these songs! Your appreciation for the music in this movie is based on whether or not you like funk. Even though it doesn’t make sense to have this music in this Muppet sci-fi movie, I still love these songs! I love this tone and style the music is in. In fact, when I was a kid this film introduced me to great classics as “Flashlight,” “Brick House,” “Shining Star,” and the other songs that appear. I have a lot of fun listening to them. I actually can’t imagine a lot of the scenes in this movie without these songs.
I know there’s not much else to talk about and I can’t go through all of the songs in this movie, but here are notes on some of the musical moments.
1) Brick House: A lot of people have said that this is the best scene in the movie…Yeah, it is! If the Muppets were to live in the same house, this is pretty much how I’d imagine their mornings. This scene as a whole is the closest thing in this film to capturing the Muppet/Jim Henson spirit.

2) Celebration: This is the only time the Muppets sing in this film…unless you count Rizzo singing the Oscar Meyer Weiner song.

3) Shining Star: The Muppets have a music video! Not just a montage – a legit music video! That’s neat! I think the only other times we had ever seen a Muppet music video before this was on Sesame Street. That’s pretty cool.

PUPPETRY: The puppetry in this movie is really good if you pay close enough attention to it. In my opinion, it’s better than the puppetry in Muppet Treasure Island. The characters do simple human things that puppets cannot do on their own. Gonzo opens a drawer. Do you know how to get a puppet to do that while making it look simple and ordinary? Rizzo turns a key in the lawnmower. The Muppets open doors. There are penguins – full scaled penguins – diving into a bathtub. It looks so simple, but when you think about it you realize that the filmmakers and performers had to work very hard to make these actions look as realistic as possible. In the last Muppet movie, it sometimes looks like they’re trying to do something; the Muppets were trying to fight during the battle scene towards the end. Here, they’re just doing the actions as simple as anybody else can do it. I love that!
Muppets from Space - Puppetry

COMEDY: The comedy is OK. Often times, the jokes do not work. There are only 2 fourth wall jokes, and they’re not funny. You have to pay attention to them, or else you’ll miss them. However, when a joke does work it is very funny. Anytime the Muppets do or say anything that matches their unique spirit, the jokes are hilarious! Statler and Waldorf partake in their usual wise cracks, and they’re great! I like the silly and naive comments Fozzie makes (with the exception of him not knowing what scotch tape is). Sam’s short speech to the people on his front lawn is fantastic! And, of course, Bobo the Bear gives the funniest line in the movie!

It’s so odd and strange, but it’s so funny!
I can’t talk too much about the bad jokes because they don’t stand out as well as the good jokes. There are plenty of bad jokes, but the good ones are more memorable. As a whole, the comedy is OK. When something is done or said that matches the spirit of the Muppets, the jokes work well and they are absolutely funny!
Muppets from Space - Comedy

CONCLUSION: OK, so you see that this movie has a lot of problems. The story is crap, the writing is weird, there are no original songs in this film, and the comedy is hit and miss. But there are good things about the movie as well. The puppetry is impressive, some of the jokes are really funny, and the Muppets still act like the Muppets. As a whole, this movie is OK. It’s not their best work, but it’s far from their worst. Believe me, the Muppets would go on to do much worse than this film. At least in this film, our characters still seem like themselves despite a faulty script. So long as Kermit is still himself and the rest of the Muppets are still themselves, I’m in a good place. Despite the problems this movie has, I still like it! I enjoy it a lot! The good stuff is more than likeable, and the bad stuff is fun to make fun of. If you don’t like this movie, I can understand why; the story and script are just too strange for the Muppets. However, it’s also understandable why you may like this movie. The Muppets are still the Muppets. They’re still entertaining, they’re still loveable, and they’re still relatable. Take it for what it is.
Muppets from Space - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: Muppet Treasure Island (Brian Henson, 1996)

Muppet Treasure Island

It’s hard to talk about this film without comparing it to the last Muppet movie. I know they’re two different stories, but if you focus on the productions you’ll discover they’re almost the same movie. Both films were made by Walt Disney Pictures and Jim Henson Productions. They’re both based on novels written by English authors from the nineteenth century. The Muppets share the spotlight with a famous English actor. They both open the exact same way, with camera trucking backwards and zooming out of the sky as the credits role. Even the credits are the same – almost everyone from the last movie is back to reprise their role on this film. This movie has the same producers, director, production designer, director of photography, editor, writer – they’re all here! There’s certainly a lot to consider regarding this film, especially since it reminds me a lot of The Muppet Christmas Carol. If I can be honest now, I think the Christmas film is far better. I remember loving the mess out of this movie when I was in high school, but now I just see it as a good movie. It’s good, but not great or amazing. Even having that being said, I’d say this film is on the lesser side of good. It’s an enjoyable movie, but there are some elements that get in the way of the film being great.

STORY: The story is the Muppet’s version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale Treasure Island. Like the last film, the plot is based on one that had already existed for over 100 years. Unlike the last movie, this film isn’t as serious or dramatic. It does have a lot of darker themes and moments, but it doesn’t shy away from some lighthearted comedy. We’ll get to that later, of course. I’m not familiar with Stevenson’s story, but I understand this movie follows the book pretty closely.
There are 2 moments in the story that I do have to address, however. The first takes place after Blind Pew gives Billy Bones the black spot and leaves his tavern. I heard someone ask how come he didn’t come with his band of pirates the first time…Yeah, that’s a good question! Why didn’t Blind Pew have his gang with him the first time he went into the tavern instead of coming and leaving and coming again? Did he realize that by doing that, he gave Billy Bones a chance to run away? Unless he had a plan regarding that, I don’t know if he thought that all the way through. The second moment I wonder about is after Polly, Clueless Morgan, and Mad Monty broke out of the ship’s jail. Did anyone ever question how they got out? I’m pretty sure Captain Smollett did not intend to keep them in time-out for what they did. They didn’t break an expensive vase – they tortured 2 shipmates! I’m positive Smollett meant to keep them in jail for the rest of the voyage…And yet they’re walking and roaming as freely as they please after they get Mr. Arrow’s keys. No one questioned that? No one wondered why or how they got out? No one wondered if their release from jail had anything to do with Mr. Arrow’s disappearance?…No?…OK…
I think one of the biggest themes of this story is knowing what to value. Jim Hawkins valued honesty, purity, friends, family, and adventure. Because of that, he not only got what he wanted but he also gained more. He got the adventure he was longing for, and he got a much larger family. He and his new family also gained riches. They were able to row back home with a ship full of gold. Long John Silver, on the other hand, longed for the gold and riches. He was willing to kidnap a boy, take over the Hispaniola, and hang a frog and a pig over their death to get gold. Where did it get him? Jail. And when he broke out of that place, he nearly drowned and found himself on an island with no riches. If we value the purest and best things of life, the rewards will come to us. If we become selfish and greedy, however, we’ll be trapped and worse than we were before.
Muppet Treasure Island - Story

CHARACTERS: I know I won’t get to everybody. I’m only writing about those who played integral characters in the story.
1) Tim Curry as Long John Silver – A lot of people consider Curry to be the best live-action human star to perform in a Muppet movie…Yeah, that sounds about right! He’s over the top, he’s enjoyable, he’s entertaining, he sings, he has a soft spot that makes him loveable – he’s perfect for this movie! He basically is a live-action Muppet! What makes his character loveable is his connection with Jim. Yes, he uses him as a ploy to get the treasure, but he still genuinely likes Jim. He does care for him. He doesn’t want anything bad to happen to him. He protects him from harm. He respects him. He has fun with him. The two are friends, but Silver’s greed for treasure puts conflict between them. Curry conveys that so greatly. Throw in his always enjoyable over-the-top performance, and we are set!…By the way, did you ever notice he often rolls his eyes or looks up when he laughs? That’s hilarious!
Muppet Treasure Island - Long John Silver
2) Kermit the Frog as Captain Abraham Smollett – There’s not a lot I can say here. It’s Kermit acting like Kermit, but in a sea captain’s uniform. It’s not as charming as his performance as Bob Cratchit, but it works alright here. I think my favorite moment with Kermit comes toward the end of the movie when he fights Tim Curry. He has a tattoo on his chest – how is that not hilariously cool?!? I love it!
Muppet Treasure Island - Captain Abraham Smollett
3) Fozzie Bear as Squire Trelawney – Since I didn’t talk about Fozzie in the last review, I thought I should mention him here. He’s…OK. Fozzie’s here to not only give our main characters a boat to set sail on, but mostly to deliver comic relief. I do find the things Fozzie says and does funny. However, I do have to admit that there’s not much logic to his humor. If his company deals with boats, why doesn’t he know what the ocean is? He refers to it as “the big blue wet thing.” And…how in the world did the filmmakers come up with “Mr. Bimbo?!” Fozzie has a tiny man that lives in his finger named Mr. Bimbo. WHAT?!? What the crud sense does that make? The obvious joke here is that Fozzie is funny because he’s stupid. While Fozzie wasn’t always the “quickest” Muppet, he wasn’t stupid. That’s a lesser form of comedy geared toward children…So, is it wrong that I find some of this stuff funny?…I don’t know, but I laugh anyway. Fozzie’s character does get me to smile, even though there is not much sense to his humor.
Muppet Treasure Island - Squire Trelawney
4) Sam the Eagle as Mr. Samuel Arrow – This may be one of my favorite Muppet castings ever! It’s so perfect! Sam the Eagle is already a tight, pompous stick-in-the-mud who demands order and dignity, and that is exactly what he does in this role. His attention to detail and making sure that everything is done right is spot on! I love the humor we get from him! His early dialogue with Smollett is fantastic, but we’ll get to that later. It’s great to see Sam the Eagle in a bigger role in a movie. We didn’t get that in the other Muppet films, so it’s really good to see him take up more screen time here! I love it, and I love him!
Muppet Treasure Island - Samuel Arrow
5) Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins – Bishop actually makes a good Jim Hawkins in this film. We see how honest and virtuous he is. We sympathize with his yearning for adventure. We understand his character. I also like how natural Bishop is when connecting with the Muppets. He makes it look so realistic, like they are all normal, everyday people. He never winks to the camera or gives the impression that this isn’t real. It’s as if Bishop has always known these characters – these people, and the chemistry he has with them is genuine. I love that!
Muppet Treasure Island - Jim Hawkins

SONGS/MUSIC: The music in this movie is memorable, but it doesn’t stand out in comparison to other Muppet songs. First of all, the score is composed by Hans Zimmer. You heard me praise his talents and contributions to The Lion King, and he does a good job here. This score isn’t as impressive or grand as it was in the other movie, but it’s good. The songs are brought to us by pop songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil…Oh boy. I’m not upset because of Mann or Weil, I’ve never heard any of their songs outside of this movie. It’s just that…They’re pop songwriters. Modern pop music is hit and miss for me…More so of a miss. Every now and then I hear a good pop song, but more than often I hear pop songs that remind me why I’m not a fan of that particular genre. But this isn’t modern pop music – this is ’90s pop music! So that means these songs will be better!…Right?
1) Shiver My Timbers: This is the best song in the movie, in my opinion! It opens the movie perfectly! It begins the story epically! It sets the tone! I love how dark it is. This is clearly different from your typical Muppet song. We’re not in the Rainbow Connection anymore, folks. We are in Dead Man’s Chest burying and killing for doubloons! Yes, we still see snakes and crabs tell the story, but at one point we see skulls! There are singing skulls in this number! YES!!! I love it!

2) Something Better: Ah, yes. The Disney song of Jim Henson/Muppet movies. Here we have our lead character singing about how he wants more out of life…Yeah, Disney did that for the Muppets before they even bought them. Really, this song is OK. It sounds grand and we learn what Jim wants. If it didn’t sound like every other Disney “I Want” song, I think I’d like this number a lot more.

3) Sailing for Adventure: This is a fun, campy number. It’s enjoyable and funny. My only problem with it is that it can be too kiddy friendly. The lyrics serve as entertainment to the kids. They’re lighthearted, they’re silly, they’re simple, and they’re silly. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but the Muppets are not just kids’ entertainment. The Muppets are for everybody! When I hear this obviously kiddy song, I get annoyed. If you’re looking for a kiddy Muppet song, this number is for you.

4) Cabin Fever: …What in the world? I don’t know what to say…What does this number have to do with anything?! It comes out of nowhere and has nothing to do with anything! If you took this song out of the movie, what do you lose? The story still goes on, and we still understand and relate to these characters. It doesn’t match with the tone the film was originally going for. In fact, would you believe that this song and “Shiver My Timbers” were in the same movie? I don’t know that I do. As a stand alone song, it’s fun and silly – it’s OK. As a song in a musical version of Treasure Island…WHAT?!?

5) Professional Pirate: I feel the same way about this number that I feel about “Sailing for Adventure.” I do like this number more, though, because (1) it has a darker tone and (2) it features Tim Curry! Yeah, the other number did too, but for only one stanza. Here, Curry has an entire song, and he hams it up big time! I can deal!

6) Boom Shakalaka: I really like this number! I love how it builds and builds in production. Not only does the sound get bigger and bigger, but the visual grows more as well. It becomes quite the production number, and it’s kind of impressive how big it is! I enjoy it!

7) Love Led Us Here: I don’t like this song. At all. I can’t stand it. First of all, Kermit and Piggy are singing a pretty ballad about how love led them back to each other…as they are literally hanging over their deaths…HUH?!? That doesn’t work! It doesn’t match! What about the sequence of events prior to this moment said that this number was warranted? We don’t always need to force a love song in our movies if they don’t belong! Second of all, how come we keep cutting back from Kermit and Piggy hanging over a cliff to Long John Silver and the pirates burying themselves in treasure? What do those moments have to do with each other? Did love lead them to the gold? I DON’T GET IT!! Nope! I refuse to accept this song! I don’t like it!

PUPPETRY: The puppetry in this film is good. Unfortunately, there’s nothing groundbreaking or impressive like there was in the other Muppet films. We’re not seeing anything here that we haven’t seen before, and there’s nothing here to challenge our suspense of disbelief. This is something the other Muppet movies were so good at doing! Even The Muppet Christmas Carol gave us those incredible looking ghosts. This film doesn’t offer that much. Some of the Muppets made for this film can blink, but that’s about it…OK, Floyd could already do that, and so could a lot of the other Muppets. What’s the big deal. Along with that, I think I see a lot more rod in this movie than I’ve seen in any other Muppet movie. I can often spot the rods controlling the Muppets’ arms, and that keeps me from feeling as though these characters are alive and living. As a whole, I guess it’s not bad. I just wanted something that would continue to challenge us – something grand and amazing.

MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND, 1996, © Buena Vista Pictures /

MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND, 1996, © Buena Vista Pictures /

COMEDY: I’ve been hinting at the comedy, but let’s finally talk about it. The comedy is…OK. When a joke is legitimately funny, it’s great. I hinted at some of the early dialogue Mr. Arrow had with Smollett:
MR. ARROW: …Any man caught dawdling will be shot on sight.
SMOLLETT: Uh, I didn’t say that.
MR. ARROW: I was just paraphrasing.
I LOVE that stuff! It’s dark, it’s ironic, and it’s funny! I also think the roll call scene that takes place after “Sailing for Adventure” is hilarious! When will you ever hear a name like “Big Fat Ugly Bug Face Baby Eating O’Brien?” That is so awesome!
Where the comedy dies is when it gets juvenile. When the Muppets are just being themselves and/or serving the story, the humor is fine. But when they do something especially for the little ones in the audience, it gets annoying. A great example of that is whenever the Muppets refer to pop culture. Gonzo makes reference to the NBA. Polly Lobster mentions Disney Land…or World. Piggy talks about the shopping channel – it doesn’t make sense. A lot of kids’ movies were doing this in the ’90s, making reference to modern pop culture if the story took place hundreds of years ago. It was clever in Aladdin (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1992) because it was unique and different. But when EVERYBODY started doing this in their children’s movies, it got old.
I’m torn here. The comedy isn’t bad. Even some of the juvenile jokes can get a laugh, like the stuff with Fozzie. But the Muppets should not focus on being merely for kids. When they do, their humor is awkward and bad. When they make a joke that supports the story or is consistent with the Muppet spirit, it’s great! It’s a treat to watch and listen to. So, yeah, the humor is OK overall.
Muppet Treasure Island - Comedy

CONCLUSION: I do like this film. It’s a nice movie. I do like the darker elements and themes that are explored in this film, and I love the Muppets. I love it when they do something that is consistent to the Jim Henson/Muppet spirit. Tim Curry is a perfect collaborator for the Muppets, and Kevin Bishop helps suspend our disbelief. But the songs can be too childish, the puppetry isn’t as sophisticated or adult as it has been in the past Muppet movies, and the comedy is lacking. If this film hadn’t relied on childish antics, it’d be a better film. As it is, it’s still entertaining. It’s fun, and it’s enjoyable. I just like other Muppet movies more. And, yes, The Muppet Christmas Carol is a much better movie. If you like this film better than the Christmas Carol, that’s fine. However, the Christmas film is better than this film. That film knew when to provide comedy and when to let a moment be dark. The songs supported the film and the story, and there was advanced puppetry along with the characters we all know and love. It was a more focused movie. This one kind of felt cluttered. As a whole, though, it’s nice. It’s a nice movie. I just have my own reservations about it.
Muppet Treasure Island - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Muppets Take Manhattan (Frank Oz, 1984)

The Muppets Take Manhattan

Hello family! Please forgive me everyone; I know I’ve been on a long hiatus, for which I apologize. But I am back and ready to continue reviewing movies! Where were we?…Oh, yes! Muppet movies! Well, the Muppets continued producing great productions after The Great Muppet Caper. From their TV shows like Fraggle Rock (Jim Henson, 1983-1987) to TV specials like The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show (Jim Henson, 1982) to movies like The Dark Crystal (Jim Henson and Frank Oz, 1982), Henson and this team kept the Muppets busy. I do consider The Dark Crystal a Muppet movie, but since I haven’t seen it before I can’t review. However, it seemed as though Kermit, Piggy, and the gang were due for another movie when 1984 rolled around. The Muppets Take Manhattan was definitely a different tone a Muppet film. This is because this film was under the direction of Frank Oz. Even though Oz was Henson’s closest collaborator, there are distinct differences in how they create comedy. You’ll see more of that throughout this review.

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story, in my opinion, is fine. I don’t really have a problem with it. It’s kind of like the story of The Muppet Movie, only more realistic and fuller. The Muppets are trying to make it big on Broadway with a musical called “Manhattan Melodies.” They realize, however, that breaking into Broadway is no easy feat (which is interesting – it’s much easier to get a Hollywood contract than getting on Broadway…Hmm…). Kermit feels the stress and pressure of trying to make a dream come true as well as taking care of his friends. The other Muppets notice this, and agree to leave and ease Kermit’s stress. Kermit remains in New York to try to get “Manhattan Melodies” produced. Eventually, it is picked up by a producer, and the gang is able to come back and put on the show!…Oh, and Kermit gets hit by a car and winds up with amnesia…OK.
The story isn’t what I have a problem with. The set up, on the other hand, doesn’t rub me the right way. Why the crud are the Muppets recent college grads? At the top of the film, they’re all in their senior year of college. HUH?!? Kermit’s been around since 1955; Rowlf has existed since the early 1960s, and the other characters came into existence in the 1970s. Are we really supposed to believe these characters who were so adult and mature and lived for a long time were really young enough to have graduated from college in 1984?! No? Then why give us that scenario in this film? That’s just so odd! I can’t believe these characters are all in their early 20s! That’s so bizarre!
On top of that, do Kermit and Jenny have sort of a love connection here? There are two reasons this is so weird. One, of course, Kermit and Piggy are already in a relationship with each other. Two, Jenny supposedly just got out of high school! True, she doesn’t look 18 (a product of 1980s and early 1990s films), but she says she’s applying to college which implies she’s out of high school. If Kermit just graduated college and Jenny graduated from high school, doesn’t that make their love interest…disturbing? I don’t feel good about it!
What really baffles me, however, is the message! There are a number of themes in the film. One is the importantance of being true to yourself. All of the steps we saw of Kermit’s 3-part plan made him change his personality. When he had to pretend to be something he wasn’t, things did not work out for him. When he was himself, his situation got better. This message works well enough, but I want to address the big one mentioned toward the end of the film. Right before the Muppets go onstage, Fozzie asks Kermit if their new friends can watch the show from backstage. Kermit responds by having them perform in the show instead, saying, “That’s what’s been missing from the show! That’s what we need! MORE frogs and dogs and chickens and bears and WHATEVER!” Of course, it’s cliché and ridiculous to have people perform in a show they’ve never seen or rehearsed, but let’s look at something else. Is that the message we’re supposed to get from the film, that we need to include more people (especially a diverse group of people) in our work? It’s a nice message, but how did the movie support it? Why did Kermit need MORE people? And he said there was something wrong with the script; this issue is just a production or a company problem. I don’t get it.
The Muppets Take Manhattan - Story

HUMAN CHARACTERS AND CAMEOS: This should be quick.
1) Jenny – There’s not much to say about her. Jenny is not an interesting character. She’s nice and kind, but there’s not much character to her. Aside from being a fashion designer and having a possible love connection with Kermit, I hardly remember anything about. She does help the plot and moves the story along, but she bores me.
The Muppets Take Manhattan - Jenny
2) Ronnie – Ronny is kind of like Max from the first movie, but without the comedy. He’s weak and puny, and he always has to answer to someone. He does get more power than Max had, though; he actually gets to have his way. He does have more of a character than Jenny had. He’s not entertaining or that memorable, but there’s more to him then there was to Jenny.
The Muppets Take Manhattan - Ronnie
3) Pete – THIS guy is hilarious! I love Pete! He’s just so entertaining to watch and be with! I don’t know if that’s because of how Pete was written or because of how the actor portrayed him, but Pete is great! What I love most about him is his speeches that have nothing to do with anything! They are so funny, and everyone’s reaction to them are funny as well! Go Pete!
The Muppets Take Manhattan - Pete

The cameos are sort of a blend between the cameos in the first Muppet film and the second film. Some of the cameo stars have a purpose, and some of them don’t. Dabney Coleman, for example, is the con artist who tries to rip off the Muppets. Art Carney is Bernard Crawford, a Broadway producer and the father of Ronnie. The rest of the cameos include Brook Shields, Frances Bergen, John Landis, Joan Rivers, Liza Minnelli, Linda Lavin, Elliott Gould, James Coco, Mayor Edward I. Koch, Vincent Sardi, Jr., and Gregory Hines. Hines is probably my favorite cameo star in the film. His scene with Kermit and Piggy is funny – his lack of knowledge in this situation is amusing; plus, he’s a great performer working with my favorite characters. I do love that we see most of the Muppets from Sesame Street! Big Bird’s there, Ernie and Bert and there, Cookie Monster’s there, Oscar and the Count are hiding in the background – most of those characters are there! Even Travelling Max from Fraggle Rock is sitting in one of the pews!…Though, why are they all sitting on the bride’s side? Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock support Miss Piggy? Hmm. OK.
The Muppets Take Manhattan - Gregory HinesThe Muppets Take Manhattan - Sesame Street

SONGS/MUSIC: The music is one of the best elements in this film! The score was composed by Ralph Burns, but let’s discuss the musical numbers. I love these songs! They are so fun, so catchy, so witty, and so whimsical! They were also nominated for an Oscar! The songs in this film were written by another Sesame Street songwriter, Jeff Moss! Moss contributed other songs from your childhood playlist, like “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood,” “I Love Trash,” and, of course, “Rubber Duckie!” Let’s go through these songs.
1) Together Again: It’s hard to talk about this song in the context of the story. We don’t know why it’s the finale of “Manhattan Melodies,” and it opens up the movie. What I can say, however, is that this is a very nice song! This is the type of song you’d want to sing or hear when you’re reuniting with old friends. It also sounds like a song from an old and classic type of Broadway musical. I love how the song begins. It starts out very simply with just a piano and Kermit’s vocals over the opening title sequence, followed by a moderate tempo and a mezzo pianissimo volume when Kermit appears on camera. I like the sound of this song.

2) You Can’t Take No for an Answer: I love the style this song is performed in. I love hearing Dr. Teeth’s gruffy voice singing throughout this number. I even love the background vocalists – who the crud even are they? This song does match the spirit of the montage we’re seeing in this scene. This is another song about endurance. The idea is to always pursue your dream despite the obstacles and nay-sayers. Kermit and the gang continue auditioning and trying to sell their musical on Broadway despite all the producers who tell them no and the fact that they’re broke and hungry. It works.

3) Saying Goodbye: I like this song a lot, as it shows the emotional side and heart of the Muppets. I didn’t know, however, that this song made a lot of people sad when they first heard it! Some people even cried! I didn’t cry or get sad when I first heard it, but I can understand why other people did. Folks didn’t want to see their beloved Muppets depart from one another! And the music and lyrics never lighten up, either! This entire song is just a depressing drag. It sounds as sad as it wants you to be! The song achieved exactly what it was aiming for.

4) Rat Scat: Let’s be real, this musical moment has no purpose to the story. There aren’t even any lyrics to this piece! The only reason it’s here is to show off some amazing puppetry (which we’ll get to later). I will say, however, that the music is great! It’s a lot of fun to listen! The jazz music here is more than catchy and memorable. I love the scat that Rizzo does. I don’t care if it doesn’t serve the story; it sounds great and I enjoy it.

5) I’m Gonna Always Love You: Much like “Rat Scat,” this song does not serve the plot. It shows off some outstanding puppetry, and it paves the way for the upcoming television series, Muppet Babies (Jim Henson, 1984-1991). But this song is, again, so great! It is entertaining! I like that a baby Piggy sings about doing adult things from the innocence of an infant. She says she’s “gonna climb the Matterhorn, but only after all [her] children are born, ’cause [she’s] going to be a good mommy too…” She also wants to practice neurosurgery on your brain! The lyrics are clever, the music is great at mimicking 1950s music, and this is just an all around enjoyable piece!

6) Right Where I Belong: Much like “Together Again,” I love how this piece begins. Kermit sings this number with such gentleness and innocence. Kermit not only recognizes his friends again, but he values them and has so much love for each of them. It is very loveable. After the tempo picks up, it continues to be another enjoyable toe-tapper like the rest of the songs in this flick. It’s good.

7) Somebody’s Getting Married: I think of this song as the anthem of engagement songs – whenever someone gets engaged, this song should play! I consider this song a celebration of weddings! The characters are all excited about this important ceremony taking place. Everyone is the town is talking about this wedding. It’s actually quite beautiful to see how much everyone supports weddings. Yeah, this is a great piece!

8) He’ll Make Me Happy: This is such a beautiful piece! If the last song celebrates weddings, this one praises marriage. The message is pure and sweet: there’s no telling what’s to come in the days and years ahead, but so long as these two have each other they’ll be happy. That’s all they need to know. It brings a smile to my face and my spirit. It’s such a lovely song, and I’ll be singing it myself when I get married!

PUPPETRY: I have mixed feelings about the puppetry in this film. It’s not bad, but there are some instances where either the puppeteers, the camera operators, or maybe even the editor become…lazy. I often spot some sign of the puppeteers in this film. After the tempo picks up in “Together Again,” you can see the top of Frank Oz’s head under Miss Piggy. When Fozzie hugs Rowlf and Scooter during “Saying Goodbye,” you see his third arm. When the Muppets first walk into Murray’s office, you see Kermit below his waist and notice he has a sleeve and not legs. When Gonzo gives Camilla CPR, you can see Dave Goelz’s hands operating the arm wires. The other movies were so good at hiding all of that as best they could, and I see these little mistakes throughout the film. Now, that being said, let’s talk about the amazing puppetry that does take place in this film. I already gave them away, but they are worth talking about in more detail. The first is the “Rat Scat” scene. Seeing the rats cooking all over the kitchen is incredible! I know they’re controlled by radio, but it still looks amazing. One rat is skating on a grill with butter, another is pouring pancake mix on the stove, and watching all of them work without any rods or performer under them is an impressive feat. The only other scene to top it is the “I’m Gonna Always Love You” number, featuring the Muppet Babies! This is absolutely mind blowing! I have no idea how the performers pulled this off! This film was released over 30 years ago, and it still blows me away! Sure, Kermit was radio controlled when he rode his tricycle, but I have no idea how they did everything else! They don’t look like they’re being radio controlled when they’re in the crib, when Fozzie’s sitting on the window sill, or when Rowlf is playing with his Big Bird toy. How in the world did they do all of this? This is what I love about these earlier Muppet films – they challenged us with their limitless creativity. I love that! It is outstanding!
The Muppets Take Manhattan - Puppetry 01The Muppets Take Manhattan - Puppetry 02

COMEDY: The comedy in this movie is good. It’s not as good as the jokes from the first 2 films, but it’s still entertaining. This is obviously due to the fact that Frank Oz was in charge of this project. His humor is more subdued and reserved than Jim Henson’s. I’m more used to Henson’s sense of humor and style of comedy when it comes to the Muppets, so I prefer the humor of the first two movies. That being said, I know that Oz’s comedy style influenced the Muppets early on, but the humor under his direction is different than humor under Henson’s direction.
There aren’t any fourth wall jokes in this film, which I find distracting. I know it seems like a small thing to harp on, but think about it. When the Muppets reminded us we were watching them in a movie, the Muppets became apart of our world. It was as if they were in the theater or the living room with us. Here, we’re creepily watching their story and their lives through a screen or a fourth wall. For a Muppet movie, that’s so odd to me.
The movie does have a lot of jokes in it, but the emphasis isn’t put on the comedy here. In The Great Muppet Caper, the whole film was about making the audience laugh. Here, the emphasis is put on the story, and the jokes support the story. The jokes, like I said, are more reserved than the jokes from the last Muppet film. It’s like the difference between shouting and whispering. One of the jokes in this film, for example, takes place at the beginning of the film after the Muppets tell Kermit that “Manhattan Melodies” should be on Broadway. Gonzo replies, “Broadway of what city?” He says it quick, the other respond quickly, and they move on. Rather than cutting to a close up of Gonzo, this scene is done in a wide shot and in one take. In the last film, a lot of the jokes took their time more. They received more attention, and, again, the emphasis was on those jokes. That’s not to say we don’t have some lengthy jokes with attention in this movie or that we didn’t have quick jokes in the last movie. It’s just that we have more quick jokes here and lengthy jokes in the other film.
I will share some of my favorite jokes in the film, though: (1) Pete’s speeches. Anytime he tells someone “Peoples is peoples,” I can’t help but laugh and smile! (2) “3-D” Fish. When Lew Zealand goes to the 3-D movie, he throws his fish to have the audience think they’re jumping out the screen and into the theater. It looks like a horror scene, but it’s so funny! (3) Janice’s second nude joke. Janice made a reference to being naked in the last movie, and she does it again in this flick. After the gang returns to New York, everyone stops talking only to hear Janice tell Gonzo, “I said to him, ‘Look, I don’t take off my clothes for anyone – even if it is artistic…'” I love that joke so much! (4) Kermit’s rant toward Piggy. Right before “Manhattan Melodies” begins, the Muppets are still trying to get Kermit’s memory back. Piggy tells him he wants to marry and have children with her. Kermit’s reaction to this is outstanding! I love it! You will NEVER hear Kermit say anything like this to Piggy or anyone again, which is part of the reason it’s so funny. The other reason is just because of the words coming out of his mouth. I just can’t help but admire the puns and sarcasm they contain! It is too wonderful!
The Muppets Take Manhattan - Comedy

CONCLUSION: I like this movie. It’s sort of a different tone for the Muppets, but it’s not bad. I’m just too used to the tones set in the first two films. This is a good movie. The story is interesting, the songs are delightful, the puppetry really shines at moments, the comedy is good, and Kermit even has an arc in this film; I like that he has more depth here. I do enjoy watching this movie; it’s just not as good as the some of the other films. But my favorite characters are here to make me laugh, sing great songs, and convey human emotions. So long as I get to see that, I’m in a good place. This is a good movie!
The Muppets Take Manhattan - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Great Muppet Caper (Jim Henson, 1981)

The Great Muppet Caper

The Muppet Movie was amazingly popular. It was the tenth highest grossing movie in 1979, making over $65 million, which would be nearly $217 million today. But the Muppets didn’t stop there. The Muppet Show continued another 2 years on television, Sesame Street was still going strong, they kept producing albums and television specials, and the Muppets continued making special appearances on talk shows. Two years later, it seemed as though the Muppets wanted to make another movie. This picture, directed by Muppets creator Jim Henson, is known as The Great Muppet Caper. I know I said that The Muppet Movie is the best Muppet movie, but this film is my favorite Muppet movie! Not only that, but this is also one of my favorite comedies ever! This film is hilarious! It’s mind blowingly (yes I just made that up) incredible how funny this is! Whereas the first movie had heart and even an artistic edge to accompany the comedy, this film focuses mostly on the comedy. That isn’t to say this film isn’t artistic either, but anyone who watches this will bet the filmmakers wanted to make all of the jokes they could in this film. Let’s get into it.

STORY: The story’s OK. Much like The Muppet Movie, this film has a simple plot. There’s more going on here, but it’s relatively simple. Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo, reporters for a newspaper, fly to England to cover a story surrounding the robbery of fashion designer Lady Holiday. Upon their investigation, they discover that the person behind these robberies is Holiday’s brother Nicky. I don’t think I’m ruining anything when I say that because the movie gives that away pretty early…Actually, that’s kind of my problem with the story. I understand it’s a caper and the story focuses on the heroes figuring out the mystery the audience already knows the answer to. But it takes a while for the heroes to figure out the mystery, and the story drags. Fortunately, the movie is filled with other great and entertaining things to keep the audience interested, but the story does drag and isn’t that captivating.
One of the interesting things about Muppet movies, beginning with this one, is they aren’t connected. They don’t follow a consistent story line; they don’t even really follow the lives of the Muppets. These movies have set a tone where literally anything can happen. If you’re expecting this to be a sequel to the last Muppet film, think again! Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo are reporters for a newspaper, as I said earlier, and they fly to England where they meet the other Muppets at the Happiness Hotel. Piggy meets Kermit in London, where she flew to model for Lady Holiday…What part of that reminds you of the plot of the first movie? The Muppets are meeting for the first time in this film, with the exception of Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo. If you find yourself thinking this is a sequel and demand to know how the Muppets continue to meet over and over again, you’ll be confused and aggravated. However, if you accept the fact the sky is the limit for their films, you’ll have a good time. Really, that’s what these films promise us anyway: a good time. The stories don’t have to be consistent; they focus more so on being entertaining and fun for the audience. That what this story is, and so it’s fine.
The Great Muppet Caper - Story

HUMAN CHARACTERS AND CAMEOS: There’s not a whole lot to say about the live action human stars in this film, so let’s just hurry up and dive in.
1) Lady Holiday – Lady Holiday is OK. She’s not the most interesting character. There’s not really that much to her character; she’s snoody and pompous because of her riches and title. That’s about it. She’s just not that exciting to be around. With that being said, though, I honestly do like her. I know that sounds odd, but let me explain. First of all, the human characters in a Muppet movie are never supposed to be more compelling or entertaining than the Muppets. We’re not here to see Lady Holiday – who the crud even is she? Bring on the frog! Second of all, there are some moments Lady Holiday stands out a little. She often throws out a very funny line. I laugh at her early in the film when she reviews the outfits for the fashion show. Why in the world did she pour ink on someone’s clothes?! I do like how snoody and pompous she can be. She’s never too mean to the point that you want something bad to happen to her. She’s quite reserved in her pompousness, but it’s played up enough so the audience can enjoy her. Actress Diana Rigg portrayed her well. I like her.
The Great Muppet Caper - Lady Holiday
2) Nicky – I actually find Nicky interesting. I love how unsubtle this guy is! Of course we learn within the first 5 minutes that he’s the villain, what with his attire and the music. But when you spend more time with him, you find yourself loving how over the top he is. I enjoy Charles Grodin’s portrayal of him! I love the way he said “And me” at the beginning. I love the way he speaks to his sister in the supper club – mainly when he says, “Thieves aren’t breathing down your neck!” I ADORE how he goes nuts over Miss Piggy! But my favorite part of his performance comes when he frames Piggy after her dream sequence! Listen to his response when Piggy figures out what he’s doing! It’s a riot! I can’t help but love this guy! I can’t really say this is a bad performance necessarily. In fact, you could argue that this is the way the character is supposed to be played. Like I said before, Muppet movies are very aware of themselves, and Nicky comes out and says, “I’m a villain” in the film. He eats up his villainy like candy! We enjoy it because he does!
The Great Muppet Caper - Nicky

There aren’t as many cameo guest stars in this film, but they serve more of a purpose here than they did in the last movie. Jack Warden, for example, is Mike Tarkenian, the editor of the newspaper Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo work for. Robert Morley is the British gentlemen by the pond; he’s the one who tells Kermit about the Happiness Hotel. John Cleese refers Piggy and Kermit to the supper club for dinner. Peter Ustinov drives the truck Piggy uses to help get her to the Mallory Gallery. Peter Falk…is just a man who strikes up conversation with Kermit; he’s pretty worthless to the plot. Although, I do like him trying to figure out the story behind the glass slipper Kermit’s holding. Also, Oscar the Grouch makes a quick cameo here! He has 2 lines with Ustinov after he’s thrown in a pile of trashcans. My favorite is either Falk or Oscar – their dialogue is hilarious!
The Great Muppet Caper - Cameo 1The Great Muppet Caper - Cameo 2

While you may or may not recognize those celebrity guest stars, have you ever noticed any of the other cameos in this film from the Muppet performers? Yes, some of the Muppet performers make quick appearances in the movie without a character on their hand. Richard Hunt can be seen driving Kathryn Mullen in a taxi during the opening number. Frank Oz makes an appearance somewhere behind Gonzo in the office of the Daily Chronicle. Jerry Nelson was the one walking with his daughter in the park when they passed Kermit holding Piggy’s slipper on the bench. And, of course, Jim Henson is in the supper club when Gonzo approaches him and asks to take his picture for $10.
The Great Muppet Caper - Cameo 3

SONGS/MUSIC: The songs in this movie are really good! They serve more of a purpose to the situations here than they did in The Muppet Movie. It’s important to mention that the writer and composer of the songs and score is the late and the great Joe Raposo (1937-1989). In addition to writing music for shows like Three’s Company and The Electric Company, Raposo may be most famous for his musical contributions to Sesame Street. In addition to writing the show’s theme song, he also wrote “ABC-DEF-GHI,” “Bein’ Green,” “C is for Cookie,” “Sing,” and many, many more. Oh, yeah! This guy wrote part of your childhood playlist! Let’s go over his songs for this film.
1) Hey A Movie!/(Reprise): I think Gonzo described this song best at the beginning of the film, “What a fantastic beginning!” This song lets us know we’re in for a good time. We can just focus on being entertained. We all know what kind of film we’re watching. The sole purpose here is to laugh and be entertained. I love it. I love this song!

2) Happiness Hotel: This song is hilarious! Who in their right crudded mind would ever agree to stay at a hotel so awful? The guests stay there like it’s their home? There’s no kitchen or food? The elevator doesn’t work? The building doesn’t even have the right address?! This is the worst place to lodge, and no one is hiding that fact. Yet their blunt honesty and friendly personalities somehow makes this the best place to stay. How in the world this becomes the worst and the best place to stay simultaneously, I don’t know. I love the irony in that, but I mainly love the humor that comes from the lyrics. The song itself is simply funny as crud. It’s a great number!

3) Steppin’ Out With a Star: There’s not a whole lot to say about this number. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s catchy. Is it wrong I think of this number as the Muppets’ equivalent to “Movin’ On Up to the East Side?” Maybe, but who cares? I could say more, but I don’t think I need to. This is just an enjoyable Muppet song, and those hardly ever fail. It certainly doesn’t fail here! This song is great!

4) Night Life: I have mixed feelings about this song. It’s not very memorable. This is one of the last songs I think about whenever I name Muppet movie songs. To be fair, though, I don’t think it’s supposed to be that memorable. The song doesn’t draw as much focus and attention as the other songs in this film. In this scene, we’re mainly focused on watching the Muppets get to the supper club. Despite all that, however, this is still a fun song. This is exactly the type of song the Electric Mayhem would perform. The music rocks hard, and Dr. Teeth’s vocals are rough. It’s a nice song, but it’s not the best Muppet movie song.

5) The First Time it Happens: This is such a lovely number. Every element of the song makes it great: the lyrics, the music, the main and background vocalists, the tempo, the progression – everything about the song is delightful. It’s very regal and romantic. I like that; and give this song credit for being nominated for an Oscar. There’s not much else to say except if you haven’t heard this song yet, look it up. The first time it happens, you won’t be disappointed.

(This is the best version I could get.)
6) Couldn’t We Ride: This song is so beautiful to me. If “Movin’ Right Along” is the song we sing when we go on long drives, this is the song we all need to sing when we ride our bikes. It’s just a lovely, peaceful song. It’s like the song you want to sing when you want to forget about your worries for a moment. I love this song in the movie, and I love it just as much as a stand alone song. Raposo really outdid himself!

7) Piggy’s Fantasy: This song, and the scene it’s shown in, teaches us how to fantasize! It’s over the top! It’s big! It’s gorgeous! It’s fancy! Really, it’s played up as one big joke. Even so, the song still sounds amazing! If you took Miss Piggy, the context, and the lyrics away, you would think this music was taken from a ballet or an opera. Based on how these songs sound alone, I’m surprised only one of these songs was nominated for an Oscar. Regardless, this song is just great!

(This is the best version I could get.)

PUPPETRY: It is amazing to me what lengths Jim Henson and his team will go to in order to make these characters real. The puppetry in this film rivals that from The Muppet Movie! There are amazing feats of puppetry performed throughout the entire film, but let me share the two moments that stand out to me the most: (1) The Muppets climbing up the side of the Mallory Gallery. I’m surprised I’ve never heard people talk about this scene. I accepted it as a kid because I knew these characters were real. Now as a young adult, I keep asking myself how this happened whenever I see this scene. Were the characters radio controlled? Were they marionettes? How in the world was this stunt accomplished? Whether I get to figure it out or not, I love that moment! (2) The bicycle scene. Like everyone else, I am blown away by the bicycle scene! It’s so amazing! It’s so incredible! How in the world did the filmmakers think of this? How in the world did they pull it off? Rather than just having the Muppets ride bikes like they had Kermit do in the first movie, now we have Kermit and Piggy riding in circles around each other and Kermit standing up on his bike to perform stunts. That is incredible! This is the type of genius creativity that makes us love the Muppets so much!
The Great Muppet Caper - PuppetryThe Great Muppet Caper 01

COMEDY: I can easily declare the comedy the best element of this film! These jokes are not only funny, but they’re creative and smart! Watching this film as a teenager, I realized the difference between comedy directed to children and adult comedy. Kids don’t often understand everything that’s being said, so most of what they laugh at in family films come from what they see. Youth and adults, however, can understand a lot more, thus they laugh at both what they see and hear. There’s no way I can talk about the comedy in this film without giving some of the jokes away. I’ll only talk about a few of them, but they are hilarious and I am in love with them!
Kermit and Fozzie are twins. That’s right! In this film, Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear are twins – not just twins, but identical twins! The best way to see the resemblance is when they both wear hats! This joke is so strange and surreal, you can’t help but laugh! It is a creative and hilarious joke! I don’t know how the filmmakers thought of this or made it up, but it works so well!
Lady Holiday’s rant about Nicky. After Piggy gets hired as a receptionist (which is a totally different joke), Lady Holiday delivers an unwarranted monologue about her brother Nicky. After she’s done, Piggy asks her, “Why are you telling me all this?” Lady Holiday replies, “It’s plot exposition, it must go somewhere. Anyway…” I LOVE IT!!! Not only is that a fantastic and subtle fourth wall joke, but it’s also a great punch line for a speech that had nothing to do with anything! I wish all dialogue in movies that were unrelated to the plot ended in some hilarious joke.
Sam’s proud heritage. After Piggy get arrested, the rest of the Muppets gather together in the Happiness Hotel to discuss what to do. Fozzie makes a patriotic speech about how they all need to help bring Piggy justice. After everyone begins agreeing with him, Sam the Eagle (who wasn’t already in the room) leans in and says “It’s times like this I am proud to be an American.” On the surface, the joke is funny because Sam came in out of nowhere and because the moment was very patriotic. However, I thought of another reason why this joke really works. The Muppets are currently in England! Who the crud cares you’re proud to be an American? I find humor in the irony of that!
These are just a few of the tons of hilarious jokes that are found throughout this film! The movie is full of joke after joke – they’re all on top of each other. It’s clear that the focus of the movie was on the entertainment and humor, and it did not disappoint at all!
The Great Muppet Caper - ComedyThe Great Muppet Caper - Comedy 01The Great Muppet Caper - Comedy 02

CONCLUSION: I love this movie! The story lags a bit, but the movie more than makes up for that with all the other elements! The live-action human characters are likeable and entertaining. The songs are wonderful! The puppetry is outstanding! The jokes are hilarious! It’d be wrong of me to say this is the best Muppet film – again, I think that title belongs to The Muppet Movie. However, this is not only a strong Muppet film, but it’s also my favorite! The comedy alone is worth watching the film, but it has wonderful characters and songs to support it as well! I look forward to watching it more and more in the future!
The Great Muppet Caper - Conclusion

My Top 10 Favorite Muppet Productions

Muppets 02Muppets 04Muppets 03
If you read my “Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains” post, you’ll remember I said I always wanted to watch the Muppets as a kid. Everybody always relates magic and the belief in dreams with Disney animated films, and I can finally see why. However, I always related those things with the Muppets. The Muppets were always creative. I was blown away by what they did! As a kid, I wondered how the Muppets worked; sometimes I still wonder how they work. How are the puppets operated? How are they built? How are we able to see a full-bodied Muppet from head to toe without seeing the puppeteer? However, I wasn’t just amazed by the puppeteering, but I also loved the Muppets and the productions themselves. I love the characters, the TV shows, the movies, the TV specials, etc. They are so wonderful. So much passion and work is put behind them. Thus, I thought it’d be fun if I shared my top 10 favorite Muppet productions. Jim Henson and his Muppets have made so many fantastic productions for nearly 60 years now, and so, as you can imagine, it was hard for me to figure out which 10 Muppet productions were my favorites. However, I was able to compose the list, and I’ll share it with you now. Join me inside the Rainbow Connection!

Number 10: THE MUPPETS: A CELEBRATION OF 30 YEARS (Peter Harris, 1986).
The Muppets - A Celebration of 30 Years 00The Muppets - A Celebration of 30 Years 01
This is one of the many Muppet productions I didn’t see until my teenage years, about six years ago. In this special, all of Jim Henson’s Muppets gather together to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary. We see the characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and even the very first Muppet production, Sam & Friends. That’s one of the reasons I like about this special: we see all the Muppets in the same place. The other thing I enjoy about it is the celebration of the Muppets themselves. We celebrate their movies, their TV shows, their music – even the celebrities that have appeared with the Muppets over the years! I like watching the history behind the Muppets, seeing everything they’ve done that led them to celebrating 30 years. Who knows? Maybe within the next couple of years the Muppets will have a special celebrating 60 years! The only question I have, though, is why did this special air in 1986? The Muppets’ 30th anniversary was in 1985; was the Jim Henson company too busy to make it and release it in 1985? Oh well, it doesn’t matter. It’s a fun celebration with some of our favorite characters.

Number 9: SESAME STREET: 20 YEARS AND STILL COUNTING (Peter Harris, 1989).
Sesame Street - 30 Years and Still Counting 00Sesame Street - 30 Years and Still Counting 01
Another anniversary special, this special gives us the history and legacy of the world famous children’s television program, Sesame Street. I think I enjoy this more than The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years because we get to see the Muppets behave and interact with others in their own environment. They’re actually on Sesame Street, and so it feels like the home we’ve been apart of for the past 20 years. I enjoy listening to how much of an impact this show has had on people. I love listening to the human cast talk about their experience on the show. I love watching Bill Cosby, Ray Charles, and Plácido Domingo interact with the Muppets. I especially love watching the kids who were on Sesame Street, and how they look nearly 20 years later! It is adorable to watch! If you haven’t seen it, find it and watch it! You’ll love it!

Number 8: THE MUPPETS CELEBRATE JIM HENSON (Don Mischer, 1990).
The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson 00The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson 01The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson 02The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson 03
This is a TV special that aired in November 1990, six months after Jim Henson passed away. The Muppets (along with Carol Burnett, John Denver, Ray Charles, Steven Spielberg, Harry Belafonte, and Frank Oz as himself) come together to put on a special tribute for Jim Henson. This is especially close to my heart because some of my favorite characters come together to honor one of my favorite celebrities. Whenever we gain a favorite celebrity we really, really love, we always hope to meet that person. Jim Henson passed away nearly 2 years before I was born, so I didn’t have a chance to even hope to meet him. But to hear so many people come together to talk about his legacy and his art and the impact he left on so many people all over the world brings you a bit of joy. Not only that, but the Muppets also assure us that they will continue to entertain and continue Jim Henson’s legacy. The tribute the Muppets give Jim Henson creates such a bittersweet moment. You don’t want to except the fact that he’s gone, but you feel good knowing that he will never be forgotten. This special is such a gem.

Number 7: A MUPPET FAMILY CHRISTMAS (Peter Harris and Eric Till, 1987).
A Muppet Family Christmas 00A Muppet Family Christmas 01
I look forward to watching this special every Christmas! There are two main reasons I love this film so much: 1) Something the Muppets can do very well is put on a Christmas special. Many of the Muppets’ Christmas specials and movies are very simple. They’re not trying to force a message or a feeling down our throats; they don’t try to impress us or grab our attention with flashy lights or Santa Claus. It’s just the Muppets getting ready for the holidays, and that’s all we need! Its simplicity causes us to feel the joy and the wonder that Christmas brings! It’s so innocent, yet so genuine and passionate! 2) All of the Muppets are together! Yes, much like The Muppets Celebrate 30 Years special, we get to see our favorite characters here: the gang from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and we even get a bit of Muppet Babies! I wouldn’t know where to find this on video or DVD. In fact, I’d be surprised if it’s still available on video or DVD at all. Unfortunately, since these characters are owned by different companies, I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to purchase this. It also makes me sad that we’ll never get to see these characters together like this again in the future. This is what Jim Henson wanted – it shows in several different Muppet productions, but it’ll probably never happen again. With that being said, if you are able to get your hands on this (either on video, DVD, or online), grab it and don’t let go! You’ll enjoy it. It’ll bring you a warmth for the holiday season!

Number 6: THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (Brian Henson, 1992).
The Muppet Christmas Carol 00The Muppet Christmas Carol 01
While I love A Muppet Family Christmas, I didn’t see it until my teenage years. This film, however, I grew up with. It’s probably the first Christmas movie I ever saw! It’s the first Muppet movie released after Jim Henson passed away, and I think it’s a wonderful tribute to him. It is a fantastic adaptation of the original Christmas Carol story – it’s a great way to introduce the tale to children. There are changes, of course, but it’s not sugarcoded that much. And, again, it’s very simple. The filmmakers don’t try to impress us with any over-the-top song numbers; they focus more on trying to faithfully retell this story, and they do it very well. My family and I have to watch this movie every Christmas season – it’s a sin if we don’t! We love the songs, the scenes, the characters, everything! See it if you haven’t already!

Number 5: SESAME STREET (Joan Ganz Cooney, 1969-Present).
Sesame Street 00Sesame Street 01
Oh my crud, I could on forever and a day about why I love this show so much! Do you realize that this November, Sesame Street will be 45 years old?! This is the show our parents grew up on, and they were so proud to introduce it to us as well. This program has taught us so much, not just about numbers, shapes, and letters, but also about life situations like marriage, childhood, and death. I’ll admit, I’m in my early 20s and I look forward to watching both classic and recent clips of Sesame Street on television and online. Why? Because this is one of the first TV shows I ever saw. Because of that, it always feels like I’ve come home whenever I see this show. Watching the characters is like seeing your favorite family members or your best friends. Admit it, you probably found yourself watching an old Sesame Street sketch or listening to an old Sesame Street song and said to yourself “I remember that! Good times!” Hopefully and God willing, this show will exist another 45 years so we can watch it with our grandchildren!

Number 4: THE MUPPETS (James Bobin, 2011).
The Muppets 00The Muppets 01
I’ll admit, I was expecting to hate this movie! Beginning with the TV show Muppets Tonight (1996), it seemed as if the Muppets were releasing bad production after bad production. Movies, specials, television shows, straight-to-video films – you name it, it ranged from OK to horrendously awful! So when I heard that the Muppets were releasing a new movie in 2011, I was not looking forward to it. After it came out, critics and audiences were praising it. My friends and peers were telling me I had to see this movie. Independence Day 2012, my family and I finally sat down and watched it. And, I must say, I was FRICKIN’ BLOWN AWAY!!! This is the type of movie I had been waiting for the Muppets to release in a long time! It’s hilarious, it’s musical, it’s heart warming, it’s impressive – it’s everything you’d see in the earlier Muppet productions when Jim Henson was alive! That what this film does, it captures that classic Jim Henson/Muppet spirit! There are even a number of tear-jerking scenes in this film! When Kermit is singing “Pictures in My Head,” you want to become one of the pictures on the wall so you can come out and give Kermit a hug! When all the Muppets sing “Rainbow Connection,” I was overwhelmed with emotions! And I nearly lost it when the filmmakers recreated the whole The Muppet Show introduction! That was incredible!!! I still haven’t seen Muppets Most Wanted (James Bobin, 2014), but after seeing this film I’ll watch anything the Muppets release in the future! This film truly restored my faith and love in the Muppets!

Number 3: THE MUPPET MOVIE (James Frawley, 1979).
The Muppet Movie 00The Muppet Movie 01
What kind of list would this be if I didn’t include the grandfather of Muppet movies? This movie is so precious, so wonderful! I do wish this film were more appreciated; I think it deserves to be up there with The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 1979), and all the other great American film classics. It’s really a great story to see how the Muppets got started. In fact, if I’m correct, this is actually a parody of how Jim Henson rose to fame. We get to see our favorite characters do things we never thought were possible before. Did you ever think you’d see a puppet riding a bicycle? Audiences were completely amazed when they saw this! What’s incredible about this film to me is that a lot of the scenes are completely unnecessary and pointless. For example, why did we need to see Gonzo blow in the wind with the balloons? It didn’t add anything to the plot; the Muppets didn’t get to Hollywood any quicker. The strange thing, though, is that it really works in this movie! All of the scenes, moments, and songs work in this movie because they help further the Muppets’ identity. Speaking of songs, this movie also gave us some of the most memorable Muppet songs ever: “Can You Picture That,” “Movin’ Right Along,” “I’m Going to go Back There Someday,” and, of course, “Rainbow Connection!” This film is definitely a classic in my book!

Number 2: THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER (Jim Henson, 1981).
The Great Muppet Caper 00The Great Muppet Caper 01
This isn’t just my favorite Muppet movie of all time, it’s also one of my favorite comedies of all time! The jokes in this movie are unbelievable!! Nobody can break the fourth wall like the Muppets! Take, for example, the scene when Piggy is hired as Lady Holiday’s receptionist. Lady Holiday goes into an unwarranted monologue about her no good brother, Mickey. When she’s done ranting, Piggy asks her “Why are you telling me all this?” Lady Holiday replies, “It’s plot exposition, it has to go somewhere. Anyway…” That’s genius! It’s so funny! There’s another joke when Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo take a cab back to their hotel with Beauregard as the driver. They share this dialogue:
BEAUREGARD: It takes a while to get to know the town.
FOZZIE: Well, how long have you lived in London?
BEUAREGARD: All my life.
KERMIT: How come you don’t have an English accent?
BEAUREGARD: Hey, I’m lucky to have a driver’s license!
I’m telling you, you can’t find these jokes anywhere else! I believe this was the film that showed me the difference between children’s comedy and adult comedy. Children hear some things, but they can’t understand everything, thus they are mainly laughing at what they see. Adults, however, can both hear and see everything. A lot of the jokes in this film are so subtle, you have to pay attention so you can hear them all. Not to mention, we still get the traditional celebrity cameos, and we still get the traditional impressive puppet scenes – in this film we see the Muppets outdo themselves by creating a more complicated bicycle scene after the first movie! I love this film! I put it on whenever I’m in the mood for a good laugh!

And my Number 1 favorite Muppet production is:

THE MUPPET SHOW (Jim Henson, 1976-1981).
The Muppet Show 00The Muppet Show 01
This television show had a huge part to play in the Muppets’ identity. They were weird, they were quirky, they were goofy; but they could still be artistic, smart, and heart warming. This put a stamp in the type of entertainment the Muppets would be known for. They mixed classic forms of entertainment with their own unique brand of entertainment, and it really worked. I think it was really smart of Jim Henson and his collaborators to make this a variety show rather than a program with a traditional narrative. It opens the door for more possibilities and chances. They could be more creative and artistic because they weren’t bound by a story line or specific style. The sky was the limit. They could do whatever they wanted. This is where some of our favorite characters originated: Fozzie, Gonzo, Piggy, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, Scooter, Dr. Honeydew and Beaker, the Swedish Chef, Statler and Waldorf, Robin, Sweetums, Camilla, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Sam the Eagle, and so many others. What’s interesting to me, though, is that this was the number one show in the entire world while it was on the air, yet I don’t hear too many people talk about it today. I know Saturday Night Live (Lorne Michaels, 1975-Present) is entertaining, but it has nothing on this show in my opinion! This show embodies the spirit of the Muppets and Jim Henson himself! I enjoy it, and I will always watch it to gain the fantastic feeling of that wonderful spirit that only Jim Henson and his Muppets can give us!

What are your favorite Muppet productions? Who are your favorite Muppets? Did I leave one of your favorite movies, shows, or specials off this list? Leave a comment down below, and let me know what you think of some of the world’s most beloved entertainers. God bless you, and I love you! BOOYIKA!
Muppets 00Muppets 01Muppets 05