The Muppet Movie (1979)

The-Muppet-Movie-Poster-Small4

There’s a lot to praise with this film and one big thumbs up is the fact this started the Muppets foray into movie land. Already big famous felt figures, this is the first live action feature length for Kermit and friends and they’re still well loved today. Their movies, well most of their movies are brilliant fun and this kicks that trend off fantastically with gags, songs and entertaining whimsy humour.

At a studio private screening Kermit and the gang are sitting down ready to watch a movie of how the Muppets came to be. Kicking off in a swamp we meet the frog dreaming to be famous and then gets told about a Hollywood chance. Along his journey to show business he and we meet Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and others as they all join in dreams of chasing glitz and glamour.

Jerry Juhl and Jack Burns come together as writing team and offer up a whole smorgasbord of gags, either spoken or visual which truly gifts this film pace and honest laughs. The running gags of being lost and finding Hare Krishna is top form comedy and then a couple of moments with miss, a lisp and a female bar attendant helps show the genius and surreal comedy of this film’s style. They also utilise on clever meta-references to the fact they’re in a movie, from looking at the camera to giving someone the actual script. This breaks that fourth wall but is fantastically done in kicking off that self awareness. The plot itself is simple but effective in that wonder of being who you are and going for it. The villainous subplot is slightly poor but with all that frogs legs debacle in ends up in a moral message delivered from Kermit about friendship and that’s the true heart of this late 70’s film.

The visual of this film is colourful and breezy. The road tripping locations keep the show going and Electric Mayhem themselves give more than enough colour to things in their church shindig and subsequent car painting scene. Their meta influence can also be found when seeing Big Bird lolloping along and stopping to chat with Kermit and Fozzie. It’s fun and friendly for children but not so bright and loud that older ones are going to be put off. Geez, it’s the Muppets, a lot of the time adults get their style more than kiddies.

As expected this family film arrives with charm and truths about the fun action you’ve just seen. The near end of the movie is a beautiful song that actually felt quite emotional, accompanied by props shifting in the background that allude to scenes we’ve seen in the last hour or so this final sequence is about living that dream and it swells with a rainbow bursting into the studio over the entire Muppet chorus. A poetic and big ending for the movie within the movie.

The songs are fantastic from smart swift tracks in the car, ‘Movin’ Right Along’ that set up clever tropes about road trips to mature and slower numbers with Miss Piggy or the even better one with Rowlf called ‘I Hope that Somethin’ Better Comes Along’, this song for a family flick is deep and deals with the troubles of being with and without women and those kind of blues make for a stirring song.

This film blossoms as does the lovely yet dysfunctional relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy. Yet this film doesn’t have any rocky patches or problems, it’s a smooth course in love of entertaining movie making. Slapstick, music, Orson Welles, introductions to the Muppets’ backgrounds, panto-esque bad guy behaviour and Steve Martin in short shorts, this first feature for the clan is big fun and that’s all you could wish and dream for.

8/10

blossoming of famous yet dysfunctional relationship between kermy and piggy with bonus wafty soft shot dream montage of love song

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