102. The Muppet Movie

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Movie: The Muppet Movie

Release Date: June 22, 1979

Director: James Frawley

Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Charles Durning, Austin Pendleton.

Tag Lines: “More entertaining than humanly possible!”

Relevance: As I have mentioned before on this blog (see 250. Labyrinth), I was a huge fan of the Muppets and all things Jim Henson. They were an essential, entertaining and joyous part of my childhood from the 1970’s through the 1980’s (and beyond). They were the catalyst for many laughs for me as well as my entire family. ‘The Muppet Movie,’ their big screen theatrical debut, was no exception.

‘The Muppet Movie’ was released in the summer of 1979 to both critical praise and box office success. The film eventually went on to become the seventh highest grossing film of of that year and entertained both kids and adults, a rare feat for a family film. Its humor was silly enough for young children and sophisticated enough to make their parents smile. The movie also had some great cameos and catchy songs including the glorious “Rainbow Connection.” That song became one of my favorite ballads of all times. Its dreamy lyrics and simple, gorgeous melody got me through many darkened days in my life. As a kid, we owned the music to the movie on 8- track tape and I listened to the soundtrack, especially that particular song, over and over again.

Even though my family had the soundtrack, we did not see the film until the following year when it was released as a VHS rental. This was before Blockbuster stores were around, so my family used to rent movies at our local grocery store. As my mom shopped for her family’s food, the kids browsed the movie section. When I saw ‘The Muppet Movie’ was available, there was no way we weren’t going to be renting it.

Its first time through was a family viewing and the entire clan absolutely loved it. We smiled, laughed and sang along to the songs we already knew by heart. We loved the film so much that we watched it a few times before returning it to the store. Although those additional times through might have just been only me. I loved the film and couldn’t get enough of it. The rest of the family may have lost some interest by then. When the movie made its rounds on HBO, it was watched all of the time. My maternal Grandfather joined in on the fun and watched it with me. As mentioned before on this blog, he was a huge fan of the Muppets, especially Kermit the Frog. He did the best Kermit impersonation that always made me laugh. The man never sat still, tinkering and working on things all the time around his house and yard, but if he heard Kermit’s voice, he couldn’t help but stop, sit and laugh.

‘The Muppet Movie’ was eventually owned by my family and remained one of my go to movies throughout the 1980’s. “The Rainbow Connection” also remained a constant. I have used that songs numerous times as an audition piece and always recommended it for concerts and recitals in school. My love for the Muppets has lasted my entire life and to this day love all of their incarnations and reincarnations, including all of their theatrical films. Although I was introduced to the Muppets through “The Muppet Show,” it was this movie that solidified their staying power in my life.

Today’s Thoughts: “Life’s like a movie, write your own ending…Keep believing, keep pretending; we’ve done just what we’ve set out to do, thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you!”

I felt like a kid today when I sat down first thing this morning to watch ‘The Muppet Movie.’ As soon as it started a smile appeared on my face and didn’t leave for ninety-five minutes. It was the perfect amount of joy and happiness I needed on this brisk pre-Autumn day.

I loved revisiting all of my favorite Muppets and absolutely loved seeing those cameos by those big named Hollywood celebrities. Dom DeLuise, James Coburn, Madeline Kahn, Telly Savalas, Carol Kane, Paul Williams, Milton Berle, Elliott Gould, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, Cloris Leachman and Orson Welles are all glorious in their brief but humorous sightings throughout the feature film. Charles Durning and Austin Pendeleton are equally amusing in their more lengthy roles as the “villains.”

Thank you Kermit and company for your years of entertaining me. ‘The Muppet Movie’ is such a reminder of a more simpler, care-free time in my life and for that it will always be a classic film. It will always make me smile. It will always make me laugh. And I will always cherish it as well as “The Rainbow Connection.”

“Who said that every wish would be heard and answered when wished on the morning star?Somebody thought of that and someone believed it. Look what it’s done so far.”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “The Rainbow Connection,” Paul Williams, Kenny Ascher (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score, Paul Williams, Kenny Ascher (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “The Rainbow Connection,” Paul Williams, Kenny Ascher (nomination), National Film Registry (2009).

Ways to Watch: Disney +, iTunes, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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