The Muppet Movie
It’s never easy for entertainers to stay fresh. They already have to worry about developing fresh material, but their other enemies are technology and trends. Look at how Disney has had to adapt over the years. In a world where computer graphics have bloomed a new field of imagination, they turned to the minds of Pixar to develop material where the new illustrative style could be used to their advantage. Or what about stop motion animation. Once computer technology again changed things, guys like Henry Selick developed Coraline while finding ways to make the software enhance the film. But what about the art of puppeteering?
This style of entertainment has been around forever and doesn’t seem to show any signs of leaving anytime soon. Now how this been able to survive and not become an old fashion relic of yesteryear? I think it’s because there’s a higher sense of reality as all used puppets have life just with a voice. The more movement they show, the more lifelike they become. Think about Sesame Street. Many of the characters are puppets, but the voices are so distinct and they have very colorful personalities that give them that extra element of existence. They all come from the mind of Jim Henson who also created The Muppets. Once The Muppet Show became one of the most recognizable franchises of the seventies, it was a no brainer to make the feature length story of The Muppet Movie; the story of how they all got famous.
It all started in a swamp. A frog like no other, Kermit, has the ability of sing and play a banjo. After playing the heart-warming “The Rainbow Connection”, a talent agent coincidently rows by and sees the opportunity of a lifetime for this thing. Once promised the idea that he can entertain people around the world with his talents, he sets off to Hollywood to become rich and famous.
Before his journey starts, he runs into a creepily, white dressed man named Doc Hopper (played by Charles Durning) who wants Kermit to become the new spokesperson for the struggling frogs legs restaurant franchise (modeled out of KFC). He runs into a bear named Fozzie and they start their cross-country trip. Along the way the come across more colorful Muppets like Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, Scooter, Rowlf the dog, Gonzo, and everyone’s favorite diva, Miss Piggy. They do their best to get to Hollywood while avoiding Doc Harper, in order to start their own show.
The Muppets are something that I cherish. They are a childhood piece of nostalgia, but I had actually not seen this movie before. Many people see this as the best Muppet film around. While I do like it, I think it’s a little overrated. The film has a nice meta-charm to it, but it hasn’t aged well. It may be the photography, but by looking at this, I really felt that this was something from the late seventies. The music was another factor. While "Rainbow Connection" is a masterpiece, a lot of the other songs have that seventies rockfish sound that makes it dated.
The Muppet Movie does have a lot of other elements that work. Much of it has to do with the Muppet style writing. Always aware their in a movie, it breaks the fourth wall constantly and makes sure that they are giving their best. This was the first film I know to actually show the Muppets legs. The scene of Kermit riding a bicycle through town still makes me awe, not sure how it was pulled off. Not to mention that the celebrity cameos that include Bob Hope, Dom Deluise, Richard Pryor, and Orsen Wells are all taken advantage of.
I’ll give this four standard rich and famous contracts out of five. I’ll admit that this isn’t my favorite Muppet film, but I see why a lot of people love this. I can at least respect this for giving Kermit the Frog an origin story.