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The Muppet Movie (1979)


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The more I replay The Muppet Movie in my mind (I memorized the movie word for word when I was a kid), the more I realize how much it has influenced my life. It's kind of a miraculous little movie.

I've just written a two-part account of what the movie means to me: Part One, Part Two

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Links to our threads on The Muppets (2011), America's Next Muppet (in development), the Muppet Show reboot (in development) and Fraggle Rock (in development).

Links to our other threads on 'Do Muppets have souls?' (Jan 2004), 'Mickey owns Kermit now.' (Feb 2004) and 'casting muppets in remakes' (Dec 2004).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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What a great film. Thank you for that Jeffrey. I can't wait for my 3 year old to get a little older so I can show it to her. There was so much about it that was over my head when I saw it at 8 years old. I didn't know what "meta" meant, but now I see the complex brilliance of Kermit in the film reading the script of his own story from the beginning until he catches up with himself at that point within the film. Charlie Kaufman was out there paying attention somewhere. I didn't know that big fat man behind the desk in Hollywood was this guy named Orson Welles who made films I would grow up to discover and respond to. I didn't know exactly why, to use a grown up expression, the film "works for me".

But I did know the feeling The Muppet Movie gave me. I felt that yearning wistfulness of "The Rainbow Connection". I felt scared and disturbed by Hopper's frog bounty hunter and the sight of Kermit strapped into a tiny electric chair. I felt Kermit's doubt in his Garden of Gethsemane moment on the roadside. And I felt that sense of joy and community that Kermit finds at the end. More please.

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Thanks!

I think I've received more messages in response to this "review" than any other review I've written. I had no idea that so many people felt so strongly about this movie. And when I tweeted the link, The Jim Henson Company re-tweeted it. Very cool.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I don't know that I've ever seen The Muppet Movie; though I've seen the Caper one a handful of times. I'll have to add it into the queue to watch with the boys. I'm glad you're getting a warm response to the Image pieces, Jeff. Some very fine words there, and it seems like a precarious place to always be, trying to focus on that which is inspiring while straddling the gap between it and that which puts bread on the table.

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I'll join BJ in adding it to the queue. We often have a Friday night at home movie night, me and the kids, and tracking down a decent film is like a needle in the haystack, especially if you've already gone through a bunch of films already. I only get three DVDs at at time from Netflix, so I never order kids stuff, so I wander through the library or the Instant Viewing to come up with something. This is a more difficult task then it sounds. I am convinced that there just ain't that much good kids material out there, and the kids don't care, they'd watch any old Nick DVD if I let them pick it up. We've done Bambi and Up and Snow White (OK, they did Snow White, I fell asleep), we've done Tangled and both of those little rat cartoons and all the princess Barbie movies, which I made a thread about here and I actually kinda like a few of them... Finding Nemo, Over the Hedge, The Red Balloon (which they liked but later went turncoat on, the little bugers)... Point is, when doing this once a week, you really do run out of options quickly, so I'm definitely up for giving The Muppet Movie a try.

Bit off topic, but I'm happy to say that E.T. will be on the big screen here in a month or so, and I'm looking forward to taking them to that.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Stef, your kids may not appreciate all of the brilliant celebrity cameos in The Muppet Movie. But they are brilliant. 70s-era Steve Martin is at his best. Richard Pryor pops up. Bob Hope, too, which is appropriate since the Kermit/Fozzie road trip storyline recalls the Crosby/Hope road trip films. Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Edgar Bergen, Cloris Leachman, Big Bird, etc. etc. ...

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Stef, your kids may not appreciate all of the brilliant celebrity cameos in The Muppet Movie. But they are brilliant. 70s-era Steve Martin is at his best. Richard Pryor pops up. Bob Hope, too, which is appropriate since the Kermit/Fozzie road trip storyline recalls the Crosby/Hope road trip films. Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Edgar Bergen, Cloris Leachman, Big Bird, etc. etc. ...

Yeah, loved the guest appearances.

Missed our typical Friday night chance due to scheduling, but we got a chance to catch this with the kids tonight. Thoroughly enjoyable. A trip to yesteryear, and while I didn't really remember much of the movie itself (Kara apparently knows every frame) it reminded me that I used to wait for the show every week as a kid. Was it Saturday nights? I think it was. Almost feels like the time slot got taken by Siskel and Ebert.

I think the adults liked it more than the kids. :)

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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The kids and I recently rewatched The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. We all greatly preferred the latter to the former ... which FWIW squares with my childhood memories as well.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I also found it interesting that my kids loved Animal the most. I clearly remember loving Animal the most. Is that just my family, or does everyone love Animal the most? If everyone loves him the most, I wonder if that was even planned. When they created the show, they created a side character called Animal and he ended up taking much of the spotlight as America fell in love with him...

Second favorite might have been Zoot, or at least the quote from Floyd: "Uh-Oh, Zoot skipped a groove again."

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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The kids and I recently rewatched The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. We all greatly preferred the latter to the former ... which FWIW squares with my childhood memories as well.

Wow. The Great Muppet Caper has a lot of great bits - especially the John Cleese scene - and it makes me laugh a lot. But The Muppet Movie actually makes me care. A lot.

The Muppets Take Manhattan was a big letdown to me even as a kid.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I've never seen The Great Muppet Caper in its entirety. I remember the fast food tie-ins, etc. (especially a glass with a picture of Fozzie Bear driving a motorbike that you could get at... Burger King, I think?), but my main memory of this film is that a friend of ours from Poland was visiting, and my parents took him with us on a trip to the drive-in, where my ability to follow the movie was hampered by [a] the fact that I was stuck in the back of the car, and the fact that my parents kept talking over the movie to translate it into German for our Polish friend. (It was the one language they had sort-of in common.) And if I'm not mistaken, we arrived after the movie had already started.

Some time after that, we taped The Muppet Movie off of TV and I watched it often enough. (One of the very few lines I remember is the song that begins with "Life's like a movie...") But I haven't seen it for a long, long time.

The only other Muppet movies I've seen (not counting the Sesame Street movie, Follow That Bird) are The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppets from Space, both of which I remember thinking were okay. (Well, and there was that awful straight-to-DVD Christmas video with Whoopi Goldberg playing God, which someone gave my kids as a present a couple years ago.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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(One of the very few lines I remember is the song that begins with "Life's like a movie...")

The film closes with Kermit singing a short addendum to The Rainbow Connection. That's the only place the line "Life's like a movie" comes in.

Life's like a movie

Write your own ending

Keep believing

Keep pretending

We've done just what we set out to do

Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Reading Jeffrey's article struck a chord with me so I wrote one of my own in response, about how 'The Muppet Movie' has also impacted my life and my spiritual journey.

What is even more amazing is that Jeffrey posted his article on the birthday of Kermit the Frog, and I posted mine on the anniversary of Jim Henson's death. Neither of us planned this. :)

Enjoy...

http://www.breathoflifeanimation.com/2011/05/something-that-im-supposed-to-be.html

Ken A. Priebe

Author & Animator

Vancouver, BC

http://www.priebelieving.com/

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  • 6 months later...

Thanks Jeff ... hope I was right in name-dropping you for that theory. I bought THE MUPPET MOVIE disc last week to catch up on the Muppet canon before seeing the new film.

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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  • 10 months later...

Wasn't there an A&F thread at one time linking various A&F members to the Muppets they most resembled (in one way or another)? I have reason to want to know which Muppet I was (if I'm remembering correctly at all).

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Ah, thanks. The images are gone, alas -- I hate the way this board has degraded its own content with each revision -- but reading between the lines, it looks like I was Statler & Waldorf. Works for me. Thanks Nez!

...although digging deeper into the thread, I see at the time I demurred at the time:

Going all the way back to DanBuck's first Muppet post, I think he OBVIOUSLY mis-assigned to me his OWN Muppet avatar: With his deadly heckling witticisms ("Jeff........... would you trim my hedges?"), Dan, not I, is CLEARLY Statler & Waldorf.

I have no idea which Muppet I am. Gonzo, maybe. I've got the nose for it... and maybe the panache.

That said, while I may have been right that Dan Buck was a better match that I for Statler & Waldorf, I'm more okay now with being Statler & Waldorf myself. Maybe it's partly being eight years greyer and wrinklier.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

John Scalzi:

My wife and I have a disagreement
about a line in the song “The Rainbow Connection.” The line is:

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side?”

I am of the opinion the line is two independent ideas, i.e., Kermit asks why there are so many songs about rainbows; independently he muses about what’s on the other side of rainbows.

Krissy, on the other hand, believes the line asks about songs about rainbows
and also
what’s on the other side of the rainbows, i.e., that the songs in question must refer to both.

A lot of this comes down to how the comma (or in song lyric notation, the line break) is being used, and if you think the positioning of a particular comma is not important, please avail yourself of the legal scholarship regarding commas as they apply to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution; which is to say, commas are more important than you think.

I pointed out to Krissy that, in fact, there seem to be very few songs about both rainbows
and
what’s on the other side of them, which seems, contextually speaking, suggestive that Kermit is addressing two separate issues. She pointed out that there are fewer songs about rainbows than Kermit seems to suggest
anyway
, casting doubt on the thesis in general, and also that Kermit is both a frog and lives in a swamp, so it’s entirely possible that his understanding of the frequency of rainbows and their associated phenomena as musical tropes may be colored by lack of data. This is a fair observation.

And in any event the actual frequency of songs about rainbows (or songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side of them) is neither here nor there regarding the lyrics, which, statistically factual or not, still seems ambiguous as regards the nature of its actual assertion.

So, a question for each of you: Who is correct? Am I correct that the song asks
only
about songs about rainbows? Or is Krissy correct that the song asks about rainbows and what’s on their other side?

This is, I believe, the meta-textual question of our age, which needs to be resolved one way or another.

Please give your answer in the comments. Please show your work.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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John Scalzi:

My wife and I have a disagreement
about a line in the song “The Rainbow Connection.” The line is:

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side?”

I can only think of one song about rainbows off the top of my head, and it is not really about the rainbow itself, but what is over it. In fact, the rainbow in question is referred to only as a directional reference, with the whole song actually being about the characteristics of an area beyond. In this sense, the song is no more about rainbows than it is about chimney tops and clouds.

Given that Kermit never seems to really sing about what is on the other side of the rainbow, I think that it seems likely that his lyric is about the songs and not a musing. The remainder of the songs concerns itself with the characteristics of rainbows; their visual tangibility(or lack thereof) and their desire for privacy.

Perhaps it would be useful to examine the other verses. Is Kermit asking have you been half asleep and have you also heard voices, or is he asking if you were in fact half asleep did you hear voices while you were in said state?

owlgod.blogspot.com - My thoughts on all kinds of media

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  • 4 months later...
  • 6 years later...

Jeffrey,

Have you posted your two-part account elsewhere on A&F after the Image change? I'm a Muppet fan, but I'll require quite a bit of help understanding why I should vote to name this one of the most spiritually significant film.  I have a feeling that what you posted here in 2011 might just be what I need. So, I would love it if there's a way I can read it.

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