Heavy Midnites: The Muppet Movie

It’s the most sensational, celebrational, Muppet-tational film of all time — it’s The Muppet Movie! Beautifully distilling decades’ worth of artistry from Jim Henson & Co., this shaggy ‘70s road movie origin story delights in sending Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and the whole family of weirdos out in the real world for the very first time. Here, they hilariously collide with a cavalcade of super-stoked celebrities (everyone from Elliott Gould and Steve Martin to Richard Pryor and Orson Welles, all genuinely excited at their chance to press the felt on the big screen) in a film which succeeds at being more fun than humanly possible, whether you’re age nine or ninety. The real glue that holds this whole fuzzy, beautiful thing together: Paul Williams’ ebullient, highly-singable, pun-stuffed and endearingly sentimental songs (who thought Gonzo would deliver their feature debut’s most touching number?). These melodic, catchy and classic pop compositions feel perfectly at home with The Muppets, whose television songbook up to that point consisted of showtunes, vaudeville ditties, folk stompers and twists on contemporary pop. Williams would still be legendary even if his legacy consisted solely of The Muppet Movie’s soundtrack, which gave the world (and Karen Carpenter) “The Rainbow Connection”, which perfectly captured Henson’s creative-utopian ethos with the words “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.”
Dir. James Frawley, 1979, 35mm, 95 min.