Jun 11, 2010

[Movies] The Muppet Movie (1979)

The Muppet Movie (1979)If I were to invite you to watch a movie where most of the primary characters are played by puppets, you'd probably assume that I was bringing you to a children's movie or something. It's only in recent years with animated movies have started to target more than just the younger audiences but when you get down to it, these guys did it first. 

Oh, and how silly of me to assume that these are just your run-of-the-mill puppets that we're talking about. These are the Muppets after all, a different brand of puppets all together. They're so unique that these days they even have their own YouTube channel

These crazy critters have been entertaining both children and adults for over 50 years now, depending on how far back you decide to trace their origins. Why exactly Muppet shows and movies have generally worked is a bit of a mystery when you try to think about things logically, but then it all becomes clearer as you watch more and of these adorable critters. At least that's my theory.

The Muppet Movie was officially the big screen debut of the Muppets. After years of various television appearances, they finally made the big jump to the movies. And it was certainly quite a surprise as well. It probably helped that this was a movie presented within a movie, if you get what I mean. It starts with all the Muppets gathered in a screening room to watch the actual movie and thus the feature cuts back and forth between the actual movie and the simulated screening room.

The odd plot aims to try and tell the story of how the Muppets came to be. It all begins with Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) living a simple life in a Florida swamp together with his banjo. A talent agent (Dom Deluise) stumbles upon this musical frog and recommends to him to make the trip to Hollywood to try his luck at starting a career as an entertainer. With the goal of making millions of people happy, he sets off on the long trip to Hollywood to seek his fortune. 

Along the way he starts to encounter other people with big dreams like Fozzie Bear (Frank Oz), who also happened to own a Studebaker. But not everyone on the road is friendly - they're also being pursued by Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), the owner of a fast food joint that specializes in fried frog legs. Despite to get Kermit as his mascot and endorser, he pulls out all the stops to acquire the frog, who demonstrates an amazing knack of evading capture. Over the course of the movie, all the big favorites like Miss Piggy (Frank Oz), Gonzo (Dave Goelz) and Rowlf (Jim Henson) join the crew as they encounter strange adventures of experiences on their way.

While it wans't much of a plot, it was just enough to be the story of stories that kids could understand and that adults could sort of accept as a premise. Let's face it - we don't go to see the Muppets because they have thought-provoking stories to tell. We watch because there's just something wonderfully entertaining about a bunch of puppets moving around on-screen doing normal things that we would do. Personally, I can never get over how they made Kermit ride a bike, although further research indicates this is actually one of the simpler feats to accomplish.

Then there's the comedy, which is both witty yet shallow at the same time. And you if you've ever watched anything involving the Muppets, then you know I'm not just talking about the corny jokes of Fozzie Bear. They all tend to subscribe to this quick, dry sort of humor that just might zing past you if you're not careful, but it's not too complicated such that kids won't be able to enjoy things completely. There's a genius at work in terms of the  writing right there and that's part of how I'll always remember them.

The Muppet Movie is really just a comedy that happened to involve puppets and it wasn't just a children's movie that adults just might be able to enjoy. It gets 4 fourth wall moments out of 5.
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