The Muppet Movie

The Muppet Movie

Reminiscent of the old Bob Hope/Bing Cosby road movies, The Muppet Movie, released in 1979, is a movie within a movie, as Kermit the Frog attempts to explain to his young nephew, though a movie, how the gang of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and friends managed to cross paths. Kermit does admit that his account may be slightly fictionalized but, real or not, the resulting tale is full of charm and non-stop laughs that could only come from the mind of Jim Henson.

As the story unweaves, we learn that Kermit got his start in a Florida swamp. A Hollywood talent agent takes notices of the talented frog and persuades him to consider a life in show business. The temptation of “making millions of people happy” is great enough to lure the amphibian from his beloved home and he sets out on his journey. His first stop is the El Sleezo Café, where he meets up with Fozzie, the resident stand-up comedian, and the two proceed to get kicked out of the place by James Coburn. When he tells Fozzie of his plans, the two set out in Fozzie’s Studebaker on the road adventure of a lifetime.

Things take a vicious turn for the worst when the pair encounters Doc Hopper, proprietor of Hopper’s Frog Legs restaurants. Kermit is aghast when Hopper tries to lure him into doing a series of ads for the place and refuses, infuriating the frog-frying foe. Hopper ratchets up the intimidation but the two escape, hoping that they can still meet the approaching deadline to audition for big-time Hollywood producer, Lew Lord, who is anxiously awaiting their arrival.

Along the rest of their journey, they make the acquaintance of such future felt cohorts as the lovely Miss Piggy, Rowlf, Gonzo and the Electric Mayhem. But Muppets aren’t the only characters dotting the landscape ahead – plenty of human celebrities are waiting in their path as well, including Richard Pryor, Elliot Gould, Madeline Kahn, Telly Savalas, Carol Kane, Mel Brooks, and many others. And, in tribute to some of those that paved the comedic path before them, such legendary performers as Orson Welles, Edgar Bergen (with Charlie McCarthy) Milton Berle and (of course) Bob Hope are also given cameo roles in tribute to their groundbreaking contributions.

The arduous task of creating such a charming and entertaining film was rewarded by huge box-office numbers. The Muppet Movie would become one of the biggest hits of the year, earning the second highest gross, just under Kramer vs. Kramer, and affording Henson the ability to bring the whole gang back to the big screen time and time again.

And, beyond the crazy humor, The Muppet Movie served as a fitting tribute to the film industry and the many pioneers that allowed The Muppets and their makers to see their dreams come to fruition. In gratitude, the final scene of the film consists of all 130 felt friends taking the stage to offer thanks with the following words:

“Life’s like a movie, write your own ending.
Keep believing, keep pretending.
We have done what we set out to do!
Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers and you!!”

If you have fond memories of watching The Muppet Movie as a kid, maybe even a few times as an adult, we’d love to hear your favorite memories in our comments section below, as we tip the hat to Jim Henson yet again for sharing his talents with the world.

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