Before the fantastic reviews for The Muppets came flooding in, the concerns among fans included questions like, "Will this be the Muppet movie we've been waiting for" and "Will this be a real Muppet movie?" Even if the movie is indeed great, there are still certain elements fans will be keeping an eye out for - the elements that actually make a Muppet movie a Muppet movie. So what are the tropes that define these films and what notes does the new one have to hit to fit in properly with the Muppet movies of yore? We took a look at each of the six theatrical Muppet releases and created a refresher for you. Take a look below for the results.
The Muppet Movie (1979)
The first, the original, the classic, featuring the stellar tunes of Paul Williams and all star cast featuring every single person who was famous in 1979, The Muppet Movie is widely considered the best of the bunch. Perhaps the darkest as well, the film features a villain whose goal ends up being to KILL Kermit. This first movie sets up the foundation of what makes a proper Muppet movie, including meta jokes, puns, the aforementioned celebrity cameos and an ultimately heartwarming message. This story of Kermit deciding to go into show business not for fame or fortune, but to make people happy, and refusing to sell out in the process, is still poignantly relevant, and combining motifs from westerns, 30s gangster flicks and 60s road movies helps add to the films timelessness. All the original muppets are in the house for this movie about a movie about a movie, including a couple brief appearances from Crazy Harry, the muppet who has an affinity for explosives, who was more or less put into forced retirement over the next several films. Self-referencial, violent, and sweet without being saccharin, The Muppet Movie is a rare gem.
Cameos: Everyone was in this. From Steve Martin to Richard Pryor to Johnny Carson to Mel Brooks to Mr Television himself Milton Bearle, the list goes on and on and on until we get to the final cameo of the film from Orson Welles. Can't handle it.
Meta Humor/Breaking the Fourth Wall: Tons of it. It does feature movie within a movie within a movie after all, framed around the Muppets watching The Muppet Movie at a cast & crew screening. Perhaps the best use of breaking the fourth wall in the movie within a movie is Electric Mayhem following the script to know where they are supposed to pop up next. A narrative paradox!
Puns: Tons, perhaps my favorite being when Fozzie declares "drinks on the house!" and all the shady bar patrons run up to the roof, this classic from Kermit - "That's pretty dangerous building a road in the middle of the street. I mean, if frogs couldn't hop, I'd be gone with the Schwinn." or of course, the visual pun of an actual fork in the road.
Heartwarming Message: Making people happy, not selling out, staying true to you and your dreams will come true. This film perfectly meshes subversive humor with a genuine message.
Running Gag: Several here, all fantastic. The best appears three times, the first at the very beginning, Bernie: "You, you with the banjo, can you help me? I seem to have lost my sense of direction!" Kermit: "Have you tried Hare Krishna?" The second time it's mentioned, Kermit even *refers* to it as a running gag. It finally appears on a sign in front of a church, reading "Lost? Have you tried Rev. Harry Krishna?". Another great running gag is the classic Carol Kane "Myth" "Yeth?"And of course Sweetums chasing after the group of Muppets to go with them to Hollywood.
Sesame Street Cameos: The original and the best - Kermit and Fozzie run into Big Bird on the road, and offer him a ride, but he tells "No thanks! I'm on my way to New York City to try and break into public television!" Brilliant.
Musical Numbers: ALL great. Music by Paul Williams and the world's introduction to karaoke staple The Rainbow Connection, though my personal favorite is Moving Right Along
Dark Moments: Pretty dark in general, with Charles Durning wanting to kill Kermit, Mel Brooks trying to lobotomize him and so on. But rather than just one or two moments, the whole film has an edgy vibe.
Piggy fight scene: Piggy takes Kermit by utter surprise and beats up all of the bad guys. Amazing.
Slapstick Humor: In the bar, Kermit and Fozzie getting violently thrown around, Gonzo gets lifted by balloons and drops onto Fozzie's Studebaker, etc.
The rest after the jump!
The rest after the jump!
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