Is it fair to say that the best use of the Muppet Movie (1979) may be as palate cleanser? We found it on Disney+ while in need of something easy, after slogging through The Platform. Instead of three Care Bears seasons, as recommended by Dr. Jay, we opted for one dose of classic Muppets silliness. The medicine worked well enough; it just tasted a little stale.
The Muppet Movie (1979) tells the origin story of the Muppets, though Kermit the Frog readily admits at the outset that some liberties have been taken. Kermit is discovered singing in a swamp (The Rainbow Connection, naturally) by a big Hollywood agent (Dom DeLuise) who has rowed the wrong way. Turns out, Hollywood is in dire need of frog talent. After a few seconds of deep thought, Kermit decides to move right along to the West Coast to try his luck at stardom, but Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), a local purveyor of frog legs, is set on having Kermit be the face of his restaurant chain, dead or alive. As he tries to stay one step ahead of Hopper, Kermit happens upon all your favourite Muppets, who join up with Kermit on his journey, and ultimately make it big enough in Hollywood to star in the very biopic you’re watching.
I am sure the long list of celebrity cameos was top-notch in 1979, as the Muppets have always excelled at drawing other stars into their orbit, and any movie that includes Bob Hope, Richard Pryor and Steve Martin is doing something right. But most of the faces were not familiar to me, and I know they were expected to be (I certainly recognized most of the names once the credits rolled). Admittedly, I am only a few years older than this film, so your mileage may vary, but the Muppets Movie (1979) felt dated for me because so many of the cameos went over my head.
Still, the Muppets have lots to offer on their own, sight gags, silly banter, and especially a great soundtrack that literally propels them on their journey (I dare you to find me a more aptly titled song than Movin’ Right Along). The Muppets Movie (1979) remains an entertaining kids’ movie, but it has lost some of its lustre with age.
I remember watching The Muppet Show every Saturday night at a friend’s house, taking a break afterwards to listen to music, then Saturday Night Live (the Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Gilda, Dan, Laraine days) afterwards. I remember the assembled group stayed high throughout. These shows are unquestioningly funnier/better while high and with a group of friends.
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It’s not easy being green.
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When I was a kid seeing this in the theater most of the cameos, with the exception of Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and Orson Welles (whom I only knew as “the wine guy”) were unfamiliar to me, and I’ve forgotten most of them even though I watched The Muppet Movie again a few years ago.
It’s not hard to understand why. No one, no matter how big, upstages The Muppets.
Yes! Love the Muppets. And enjoyed the weekly show. Jim Henson and Fragglerock too. Good times.
As a kid who saw this in theaters in 1979, I can tell you we kids didn’t get the cameos either. They were more for the adults, I think. I haven’t seen this in years (decades?). It might be time for a rewatch.
“Read my lips… al-ee-gay-tor”
It was a fantastic movie in it’s time!!
Lucky you. Disney+ is not available in my region yet, but I’m really looking forward to checking out the shows on there! Also, I’m one of very few people who have never seen the Muppets movie before and find the characters rather terrifying, haha.
Love this film!
Amazing post 😍
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