“The Muppet Movie” (1979)

I feel like a heretic writing this, but the original Muppet Movie kinda creeped me out on a recent re-watching with my kids. “Rainbow Connection!” “Movin’ Right Along!” What could go wrong?

For starters, the villain of the film is Charles Durning’s Doc Hopper, who owns a chain of frog-leg restaurants. When he fails to convince Kermit to shill for him, Doc Hopper goes on a cross-country chase, hiring goons with guns and even a frog assassin with a deadly trident. An additional overlong scene with Mel Brooks as an evil Nazi-ish scientist trying to melt Kermit’s brain was similarly disturbing.

Add in the annoying, feminist’s nightmare of Miss Piggy, along with Gonzo’s good-time chicken Camilla, a host of celebrity cameos that weren’t funny, and WAY too many awkward scenes of Muppets walking, and that’s it for me, even with a gargantuan closing scene featuring all the Muppets, ever. (According to IMDB’s trivia, both Tim Burton and John Landis were in that crowd.) This was the first Muppet project to take place in the real world, and it didn’t work. I won’t watch it again, though I’m happy to view the collections of The Muppet Show and read the excellent new comic by Boom Studios with my kids, 6 and 3yo.

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