This week on Movies Worth Rewatching we’re talking about one of my all-time favorite movies, The Muppet Movie (1979).
To be honest, I can’t recall the first time I saw this movie. Growing up, the Muppets were so integrated into my childhood that it’s hard for me to distinguish a “first memory.” I know I had to have been very young and more than likely it would have been at home, but those are both pretty vague guesses. Regardless of the when, this movie was a regular feature in the house of my youth and still is today.
I absolutely love the Muppets. Growing up, my brother and I would watch reruns of The Muppet Show together for hours and hours. Each show was full of slapstick, sight gags and word play, just what my juvenile mind needed. However, peppered in amongst all the silly fun that got my butt in the seat, there were these incredible character moments of intrapersonal reflection. Moments like Gonzo dealing with self-loathing and loneliness through the segment “Wishing Song,”, or Kermit coming to terms with his place in the world in the song “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green”. These characters and their struggles felt very real to me, probably more so than any puppet should.
But that’s just it, they’re so much more than puppets to me.
Kermit and the Muppet gang feel more like my old childhood friends. The people who shared my dreams and passions and encouraged me to reach for the stars. The Muppet Movie is that story, inside a story, and that’s what makes this movie so incredible.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Muppets first big screen feature, The Muppet Movie follows the fictional retelling of how some of the more famous Muppets first met and got their start in Hollywood. It follows Kermit as he discovers why he wants to perform and endure the numerous obstacles that befall a performer trying to strike it big. But that’s just the movie inside The Muppet Movie. The film starts at the fictional first viewing of The Muppet Movie where we, the audience, are in attendance alongside the Muppet cast of the film. This story device sets the stage for numerous “winks” throughout the film from the actual cast and crew as they tell us, vicariously through their Muppet performers, how much they love what they’re doing and that they’re doing it all to make us smile.
So, how does it hold up today?
This film is simply outstanding. The effects are breathtaking, even after 30 years. More than once I found myself saying aloud, “How the heck did they do that?” Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher’s amazing soundtrack still grabs the most innocent part of your soul and encourages you to follow your dreams. Taking a page from The Muppet Show, which was hosted by a different celebrity host each week, The Muppet Movie is chock full of incredible celebrity cameos. So many, in fact, it’s hard to pinpoint my favorite since they’re all so good. However, special mention should be made on behalf of Steve Martin as the “Insolent Waitor” and Mel Brooks as “Professor Max Krassman”. Edgar Bergen also makes a brief appearance in the film, alongside his puppet partner Charlie McCarthy.
Most of all, this film is worth your time and money because of it’s deep introspective look into the heart and mind of the entertainer. Although the main characters in the film are made of felt, the cast and crew put so much of their love of entertaining into the movie that the struggles, desires, and accomplishments of the Muppet characters all feel incredibly genuine. This truly well thought out display of passion and love is so rich and beautiful, it could have only been created and captured by master storytellers and performers at the apex of their craft.
This film, these characters and these filmmakers literally shaped the course of my life. Whenever I feel lost, or can’t find my motivation, this film inspires me to be more than I am. The Muppet Movie is a love letter penned to all the dreamers out there looking for ways to make the world a more beautiful place. I honestly cannot recommend this film to you enough. It never gets old and it always leaves me in a better place than it found me. The Muppet Movie is currently available on DVD and is quite possibly one of the best ways you can spend 95 minutes of your day. To quote Gonzo the Great, “Come on and go with me, it’s more fun to share.”
by Mel Dale