Discovering the Best in the Muppets at Their Worst, part 1

NEWS UPDATE: January 7, 2010
A few days ago, Jimmy Fallon posted a video on his blog that showcased The Muppets performing an impromptu version of the song “One.” It was hilarious and Muppety and absolutely had to be shared!

Today on The Muppet Mindset we welcome our good friend Justin H. Piatt who brings us the first of his three part series: “Discovering the Best in the Muppets at Their Worst.”

“I’ve Seen Detergents That Left a Better Film than This!”
Discovering the Best in the Muppets at Their Worst

Justin H. Piatt – The Muppets are among the most beloved characters the entertainment industry has ever known. They’ve starred in six theatrical films, several television series, and have even performed live on stage. They’ve entertained millions in over a hundred countries. However, this paragraph is useless as it has no bearing on the rest of this article.

No, no, and no again (and also no). This article discusses the Muppets at their worst! At their absolute most painful! At their most awful, terrible, nauseating, stomach-turning—

KERMIT: Yeesh! We get it already!

RIZZO: Yeah, rub it in, why dontcha!

*ahem!* Sorry.

Generally speaking, there are three Muppet productions that receive less than favorable reviews amongst Muppet fans: Muppets from Space, Kermit’s Swamp Years and The Muppets Wizard of Oz. I’ve chosen to briefly review the first of these three films, discussing both the good and the bad.

Muppets from Space

The Bad:

1.    Well… first of all, the Muppets should sing. Someone once said (see? I did my research) that puppets almost have to sing. But the only Muppet singing in the whole movie is the alien Gonzos singing “Celebration” and Pepe’s very brief rendition of “The Gambler”… and then Rentro’s jalapeno song, but that really doesn’t count. The main Muppet characters should have sung in the film. The fact that this is supposed to be a very emotional and personal story, it would have translated into a musical very nicely. After all, another someone once said that people sing in musicals when they can no longer contain their emotions, and burst out in song to express themselves… I think that was the gist of it.

2.    Awkward cameos. From Josh Charles’ annoying karate (and the fact that he was somehow better than Miss Piggy at it) to Hulk Hogan’s very, very annoying shout-out to his “NWO-ites”… although Jeffrey Tambor’s response to him was perfect. The cameos in general just don’t work in this movie. Personally, I think the only memorable cameo comes from Steve Whitmire as “Rainbow.” Maybe F. Murray Abraham, but that brings about a new question… Who the heck is F. Murray Abraham?

3.    The director. Too much of the movie looked like – and felt like – it was made for television. Then again, what do you expect from a television director? I’ve also heard it rumored that he changed a lot in the script that would have made the whole film much better. That’s just disturbing.

4.    Gonzo is an alien? What??? From MuppetWiki: “The original premise was that aliens had seen [Gonzo’s] acts on The Muppet Show beamed up to their ship from a satellite and wanted to visit him on Earth. Gonzo would believe he was one of them until he discovered the truth at the movie’s conclusion.” What was wrong with that? More than likely, Gonzo would have realized that the Muppets were his real family no matter what. That’s a great ending! What happened to it? Perhaps the greatest injustice done to any Muppet production. Perhaps the greatest injustice done to any film, any writer, anywhere, anytime… I exaggerate, of course… Or do I?

5.    Jeffrey Tambor’s hissy-fit at the end. Didn’t like it. At all.

The Good:
1.    Muppets Tonight characters. Bobo- er, Rentro, Pepe, Dr. Phil van Neuter, and Johnny and Sal’s brief cameo are all great. But then, I liked Muppets Tonight. Bill Barretta shines as the dull but gruff and lovable Bobo- er, Rentro- and as Pepe.

2.    Scooter’s back! For the first time since The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, we got to see Scooter speak on screen… at least for a few seconds, anyway.

3.    Rizzo is hillarious in this movie, and in perfect character. If this weren’t Gonzo’s movie, it would be Rizzo’s. Of course, if it weren’t Rizzo’s movie, it might have been Mr. Poodlepants’ movie, and then where would we be? … (Note: Write The Mr. Poodlepants Movie script)

4.    Bunsen and Beaker being forgotten at the gas station makes me crack up every time I watch this movie. As does the “R U THREE?” gag.

5.    Jeffrey Tambor… most of the time. Aside from his hissy-fit, which I already mentioned, I really enjoy Jeffrey Tambor’s role In this (Ha! I almost wrote “Tamboy!”) Pat Hingle’s good, too. Didn’t include him with the cameos because he’s technically more than a cameo in this. Also, love this exchange: “Gonzo of Earth, who is this most entertaining friend of yours?” “That’s Ed.” “Hi, Ed.” “Hello, Ed.” “The cape!” “The cape!” “The cape for Ed.”

6.    And the best part about Muppets From Space: The DVD commentary! So good, in fact, whenever I watch Muppets From Space, it’s typically with the commentary on. Some great Gonzo and Rizzo interaction, and the whole thing is improved by the fact that the director says next to nothing. The DVD should have been called “Muppets From Space Commentary with bonus feature Muppets From Space film.”

Well, I could have said more, I could have said less, I could have said something in Japanese, but that was my opinion of Muppets From Space.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

4 thoughts on “Discovering the Best in the Muppets at Their Worst, part 1

  1. What I love best about Muppets From Space is the little moments at the end when Gonzo is saying goodbye to Kermit and Rizzo, and then when he chooses to stay on Earth and Rizzo knocks him over in excitement. It was perfectly acted by Dave and Steve, and I think it's one of the finest dramatic moments for the characters.

    I also think the opening scene with Noah's Ark and especially the wake up routine of the Muppets at the boarding house were great.

  2. I've always loved that poster so much more than the movie itself…

    The comment is brought to you by the confirmation word: hatoscr

  3. Yeah, a shame the movie turned out the way it did. And you think Tim should know better, since he was a writer for “Spongebob” and “Rocko's Modern Life” and was one of the developers for “Spongebob”. Then again, he was involved with the live action Alvin movie and the Garfield sequel movie, so it's balanced.

    But at least the puppeteers gave some wonderful performances. They're really one of the major reasons this film didn't turn out so awful as it did.

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