Muppet Movie, The (1979)

“All I can see is a million frogs on tiny crutches.”

Muppet Movie Poster

Synopsis:
A talent agent (Dom DeLuise) convinces Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) to leave his Mississippi home and pursue a career in Hollywood. Along the way, Kermit encounters a host of Muppet friends eager to join him on his trip, and tries to evade capture by the nefarious owner (Charles Durning) of a frog leg-serving restaurant chain.

Genres:

Review:
Two years after “The Muppet Show” became a worldwide hit on television, Jim Henson and his creative team brought Kermit, Miss Piggy, and their friends to big-screen fame in this first (and best) of several full-length Muppet features (including the Peary-listed The Muppets Take Manhattan [1984]). While geared primarily towards kids, the screenplay of this first entry was clearly designed to appeal to adult fans of the TV series as well, given that it’s littered with witty one-liners, cameo appearances, and genre-specific homages, and doesn’t shy away from placing its characters in decidedly precarious situations. Indeed, I recall how, when watching this film for the first time as a child, I was traumatized by the fact that Kermit is pursued by an evil restauranteur whose primary goal in life is to chop off frogs’ legs (eek!); and the scene in which a sadistic professor (Mel Brooks) attempts to turn Kermit’s brain to mush was equally disturbing to my young sensibilities. As an adult viewer, however, I’m better able to appreciate how slyly screenwriters Jack Burns and Jerry Juhl play upon various generic tropes, ranging from the central conceit of a road trip (the bulk of the story) to romance (embodied in Kermit and Piggy’s infatuation) to mad scientist (the scene with Brooks) to western (the climactic finale). A couple of catchy tunes by Paul Williams — most notably the Oscar-winning tune “The Rainbow Connection” — and some impressive Muppeteering (check out Kermit on a bike!) make this an enjoyable flick for both adults and (older) kids to visit every now and then.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A fun storyline featuring the beloved Muppet clan
    Muppet Movie Still

Must See?
Yes, as a cult favorite. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.

Categories

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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One Response to “Muppet Movie, The (1979)”

  1. Not a must.

    A fairly innocuous flick for young & budding ffs – but the script and songs are nothing special (particularly for adults).

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