Let’s take a quick moment before we dive into The Muppet Movie to appreciate that tagline at the top of the poster up there: “More Entertaining Than Humanly Possible”. It’s an absolutely great tagline, and even elicits a little laugh or smile from those who take a second or two to get it, and that right there is The Muppet Movie as a whole: a series of little moments to make you laugh and/or smile. Reportedly, this would be the only time someone other than one of the regular Muppet collaborators would direct a Muppet film, as the overall mood on the set was a rather unpleasant one. Well, it doesn’t come across at all in the actual film, I can say that for sure.
Kermit the Frog is a lonesome banjo-playing amphibian in the swamps of Florida, who ends up running into a talent agent who swiftly fills his head with dreams of making it in Hollywood. Thus, the road trip begins, as Kermit gathers all the familiar Muppet friends along the way, all with their own dreams of stardom in L.A., all while he is chased down by a fast food magnate who wants Kermit as the mascot for his new chain of French fried frog legs restaurants. As someone who wasn’t all that accustomed to the Muppets growing up, that this film was essentially the first time the Muppets’ adventures were set in the real world didn’t have the mild “wow factor” that it probably should have, but the film’s key sell, the humor, was not lost on me. Pretty much from the introduction in the movie theater, I had a constant smile upon my face through the whole film. A lot of it was thanks to the film’s excellent sense of meta-awareness; the Muppets in the theater that bookends the film is actually them watching the final cut of the film itself, making the film-within-the-film the film as a whole, which I got a lot of amusement out of. That, and a plot device used later in the film, which I don’t want to completely spoil, but suffice it to say, it deals with the script referencing itself in the film to get the characters out of a jam, which in any other film would have been the stupidest deus ex machina to do, but here it works exactly the way it should. Also of note are the heaps of celebrity cameos sprinkled throughout the film, which makes for a nice little game of who’s who, leading up to one of the biggest and most famous “who’s who” of all.
Now comes the opposing statements, which are few, but are worth saying. As much as I liked the film, I still couldn’t help but disagree with what seemed to be its automatic inclusion on the list solely as representation for the Muppets. Just because something is or was culturally relevant shouldn’t mean it should get automatic representation on a list of “must see” films; it’s that sort of thinking that has Cheech and Chong taking up an undeserved spot of their own. Aside from the whole fact that it’s the Muppets in a movie, there wasn’t too much else to this one to warrant it really making it onto the list. That said, however, this is still The Muppet Movie, and it was still exactly what it needed to be. If anything, I’m glad the list essentially made me see this, as I don’t know if I would’ve otherwise. And I would’ve missed out on a very special experience.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10