20 April 2012 | oneguyrambling
A fine entry into the Muppetational universe.
An inspired combination of slapstick, music, vaudeville and charm, The Muppet Movie takes all the now familiar characters away from the Muppet Theatre where humans were the minority, and plonks them right among the (almost) real world.
We meet Kermit alone in his swamp singing beautifully to himself, and after a chance meeting with the frog, a crocodile and a movie agent – yes it's that kind of film – Kermit is inspired to try to forge his own path in showbusiness.
Along his journey to Hollywood he meets aspiring stand up comedian Fozzie, amateur stunt man Gonzo and a group of zany musos known as The Electric Mayhem. He also finds that romantic sparks fly when he meets a diva pig with delusions of grandeur.
That's the core part of the initial Muppet group identified, the slightly awry element arrives in the form of a fat, sweaty guy in a white suit named Doc Hopper, who just happens to sell frog's legs as cuisine. He takes a shine to Kermit's pins and decides that he simply must have them to promote his wares, whether Kermit agrees or not.
The remainder of the film is essentially an extended chase sequence as Kermit and the gang hightail it towards Hollywood with Doc Hopper and his toadying (no pun intended) assistant close behind.
And this to me is the problem with the initial Muppet Movie, the best parts are the simple times, Kermit sitting on the log singing Rainbow Connection without a care in the world, the awkward but undeniable chemistry between pig and frog, the stoner-ish hep dialogue between the members of the Electric Mayhem, the stand-up bear who is terrible at stand up.
They kinda lost me when the film veered into 'eating the primary character's legs' territory. They definitely lost my four year old in the looming torture scene, and nearly killed the poor boy when the Frog assassin clad all in black and looking decidedly evil showed up. (I really didn't remember these things from my previous viewings.) Despite these depressing and out of place sequences there is still a lot to love about the first Muppet Movie, the constant breaking of the fourth wall is already obvious, the general funkiness of the Electric Mayhem and the timelessness of Kermit's tunes, the cheesy jokes that are so bad that you can't help but smile – especially when delivered with such innocence and charm by a handpuppet
the inclusion of several big name cameos, none of whom for a moment let on that they are conversing with a sock, yet some of whom still manage to out-ham the very same talking puppets.
The Muppet Movie finds a bunch of frogs, pigs, bears and whatevers coming to terms with their own existence, growing into their own skin and fur. Over the years some peripheral characters became more central, and others stepped back to spout occasional quips when required.
Most of all this film showed that there was entertainment value to be found in these talking socks, and that people of all ages could enjoy their shenanigans guilt free.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. 'Mature thematic elements' aside, this is a fine intro to the Muppetational world.