I never grew up with The Muppets, let alone the work of Jim Henson. I’m sure I watched episodes of Seasame Street and I know I watched various films and television that contracted work from his studio and I THINK I saw Muppets From Space but I was never overly familiar with him. Over the past year, I’ve grown a fascination with him as a creator and as a person. I found his creative process and drive to further improve his craft and entertain to be inspiring so, I decided to dip my feet into his most well know work, The Muppets. Now with The Muppet Movie, I was more or less expecting a fun, chaotic filled romp filled with wonderful acting and technical mastery over the art of puppetry. What I wasn’t expecting was a film with as much heart on screen as there is felt and fluff.
The Muppet Movie tells the story of Kermit the Frog, a frog with a dream and unblinking eyes, traveling to Hollywood to audition for a frog-related role in whatever Orson Wells needed a frog for. While traveling he gains several friends along the way such as Fozzy Bear, struggling comedian and hat haver; The Great Gonzo, Unidentified Bird Thing who dreams of being an actor; Miss Piggy, a vain, self-absorbed, abrasive woman who wants to be famous and loves (?) Kermit, along with so many more weirdos. Throughout the movie, they’re chased by Doc Hopper, a restaurant owner that wants to capture Kermit to be a spokesperson for frog legs for some reason. While the chase element is there and Doc is a suitable antagonist for the movie, it mainly focuses on the Muppet gang and their various visual gags and witty remarks. That’s actually what struck me the most about this movie, its sense of humor. The Muppet Movie is really fucking funny. Every scene and piece of dialogue is so expertly directed and acted that pretty much every gag in this movie lands a perfect 10. It’s a bit dry, yeah, but the jokes move fast and the bluntness of the actors delivery sells it every time.
The technical side of this movie impresses the hell out of me as well, goodness. Seeing wide shots of the Muppets walking from place to place with only (minimal) string sightings was amazing to see in a movie made in the ’70s. One of my favorite looking scenes in the entire movie was during the musical number for “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit sitting on the log. Finding out that swamp was created on a backlot using a tank while Jim Henson was operating Kermit UNDERWATER blew my damn mind. The sheer amount of dedication and love the cast and crew had for this project is almost palpable and it just made me love the movie that much more. I admit I don’t know a lot about puppetry (noooooo) but the way the puppeteers bring out so many kinds of emotions and movements out of those funny little fluffy balls is astounding to me. The way Kermit grimaces whenever he gets upset never fails to crack me up. However, what impressed me the most about The Muppet Movie wasn’t its humor, its special effects, or even the acting. It was the message and themes.
The Muppet Movie is a movie I desperately needed to see, even if I didn’t know it going in. At the time of writing this review, I’ve been having a lot of doubts with writing reviews for movies, television, really everything that I do here. I’ve been wondering if it’s really worth doing. Really I’ve been having that problem with a lot of things as of late. I kind of felt like I forgot why I wanted to start this website up in the first place. I bring this up because near the end of the movie the main characters are stuck in the middle of the desert with no way to get to Hollywood. That’s when Gonzo starts singing “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday”, a song about chasing a fleeting feeling and wanting to recapture it. After that Kermit then has a conversation with himself, thinking his friends only came along because of him and beating himself up because he, in his words, “Never promised anyone anything”. After a small talk, he realized he did promise someone something. He promised himself. He believed in his dream and that’s why he made this journey in the first place.
This is when I started tearing up. This is when I fell in love with this movie.
Kermit’s desire to follow his dream to entertain people and make them happy really struck a chord with me because well, that’s what I want to do. That’s what Jim wanted to do. This desire to entertain people is something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s why I try and interject humor into my reviews because I want to make people laugh. I’ve always wanted to get into entertainment even in some small capacity just so I can be apart of something that can bring so many people joy. It’s why I love things like movies, video games, television and all that stuff because of what it can do. Even something as simple as a stupid review on the internet can make people smile, and that’s what I wanted to accomplish when I first started this review blog up. Whether or not I’ve done that I guess is subjective but The Muppet Movie reminded me why I wanted to do what I do. I know I’m just some joker that writes about comic book movies and grind-heavy fighting games but if I’m able to make you smile by getting angry at this garbage then I think I’ve done a good job. I can tell this type of sentiment was shared by Jim Henson because this entire movie is more or less an allegory for him and his team. Jim Henson had one dream, to entertain, and I think he accomplished that with flying colors. I’ll leave you with the verses for one of my favorite songs in the movie, “Finale: The Magic Store”.
“Life’s like a movie, write your own ending
Keep believing, keep pretending
We’ve done just what we set out to do
Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you”
Please watch The Muppet Movie. It’s wonderful.