Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Muppets From Space

Reviewed by: Matthew Prins

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Young Children
Kids Comedy
87 min.
Year of Release:
Muppets from Space.

Starring: Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Bill Barretta, Jerry Nelson, Brian Henson, Kevin Clash, Frank Oz, Jeffrey Tambor, F. Murray Abraham, Rob Schneider, Josh Charles, Ray Liotta, David Arquette, Andie MacDowell, Kathy Griffin | Director: Tim Hill

After watching “Muppets From Space”, I went home and watched “The Great Muppet Caper” on tape. I did this because there were many times during “Muppets From Space” where I thought I had imagined the greatness of the earlier Muppet movies, or I wondered if there were a certain age where I had simply outgrown their antics. After watching “The Great Muppet Caper” again, I was relieved; the spark and the joy within me when I watched it as a child and an adolescent came roaring back while watching it again as an adult. But where is the joy in “Muppets From Space”?

I am too harsh. There certainly is some joy in “Muppets From Space”, and it comes from where the movie is at its most loony. When Gonzo starts receiving messages from aliens in his breakfast cereal and in a sandwich and tries to explain this occurrence to the other Muppets, it’s quite funny. When Hollywood Hulk Hogan comes on the screen to promote his wrestling show, it’s really funny. And there are other chuckles throughout the movie that I won’t ruin for the reader. But often first-time director Tim Hill seems to think that just having the Muppets on screen in funny costumes parading around deadpan adults is funny.

Furthermore, the movie is far too modern. One of the great things about the previous Muppet movies is that they had a timeless quality to them. Other than the hairstyles and fashions, I wouldn’t have guessed that “The Great Muppet Caper” was from the early 80s. But many aspects of “Muppets From Space”—including the special effects and parody references—are distinctly late 90s. It isn’t right seeing the Muppets locked down to one time period. Adding to the problem, the musical selections are all 70s disco songs (none original to this movie), right in sync with the resurgence of that decade in popular culture.

Perhaps you have noticed at this point that the names “Kermit” and “Miss Piggy” have not yet been mentioned in this review. There is a reason for this: they are decidedly minor characters in “Muppets From Space”—akin to, say, Gonzo in the previous Muppet movies. And “Muppets From Space” is Gonzo’s movie, since the entire storyline revolves around his search for other creatures like him. Because he is on front and center, less of the rampant zanyness that he’s known for comes forth. He’s made almost normal, and there isn’t anyone in “Muppets From Space” who takes over the craziness the way Gonzo could. Not only are Kermit and Miss Piggy pushed out of the spotlight, many minor characters from the previous Muppet movies virtually disappear, including Fozzie, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, Scooter, Janice, and Waldorf. [It is alleged that the person who voiced for Scooter died, and so out of respect Scooter, too, was retired.] I may only feel this way because I’ve already seen the old movies, though. The audience I saw the movie with was mostly parents with small children, and the children got a lot more out of “Muppets From Space” than I did. Perhaps this movie is more suited for them than for twenty-somethings like me.

Most likely to offend Christians in the audience is the first scene of the movie. Gonzo dreams that he is back in Genesis times, and Noah (F. Murray Abraham) is loading animals on the ark. Gonzo asks to be allowed on, but Noah won’t allow him since, after all, there’s only one Gonzo. Then he hands Gonzo an umbrella. Parents of young children may be at a loss to explain these actions of this less-than-kind Noah. Otherwise, there are just the staples of Muppetry—cartoonish slapstick violence, moderately scary villains, really bad puns. Young children will likely latch on to “Muppets From Space” because of those staples and because the Muppets are so cute and so fuzzy and occasionally so very funny. It’s just too bad there isn’t as much for adults to enjoy.

Viewer Comments
I agree with the reviewer. I can remember to this day the greatness Jim Hensen added to his Muppet movies. The innocense is gone. It’s almost as if they haven taken over the Muppets in hope to recreate a moment that I believe only Jim Hensen could do, because the Muppets were Jim Hensen. The old movies left you with memories of laughter, not just a moment of laughter.
—Jeannie, age 41
I enjoyed the movie to a point. It was better than some blockbusters I have seen in recent years but the adult humor seemed to be lacking the punch of some of the others. Gonzo deserved to be the front “whatever” for this film. It is interesting to see the Muppets legacy continue but without Jim Henson, the charm may be quickly fading. In regards to the opening scene, the reason it is offensive to some is because a case can be made for the truth. Too often in Christianity today we are told not to conform to this world but to the mind of Christ but some still would believe that perfection in their eyes is really what matters. I actually don’t think the Muppets meant to make this point but we as Christians should use this scene to evaluate the “whatevers” we run in to from day to day.
—Sue, age 28
I took my two young children (2 and 3) to see this film expecting the magical fun and wonder of previous Muppets movies. I was sorely disappointed! Not only was the first scene of Gonzo’s dream about Noah personally offensive to me as a Bible believing Christian, the movie had a scary “tone” to it that sometimes frightened my little ones. The humor was much too adult for them to understand or appreciate and in my opinion, had clear new age overtones. Yes, there were some funny moments… but only ones that I could appreciate as an adult. The scene of Miss Piggy making out was totally inappropriate for children and certainly would have made Jim Henson roll over in his grave. After seeing Babe in the City and this most recent disaster labeled as a children’s film, I have given up taking my little ones to the theater at all. Give me back “The Great Muppet Caper!”
—Glen Schaumloeffel, age 32
The Muppets are in a state of transit, movie-wise. The first two post-Henson muppet pictures were adaptations, and it’s difficult for writers and performers to ease back into a more conventional storytelling narrative. I applaud the film for dropping the musical numbers—the disco funk soundtrack is particularly inspired, suiting the muppets to a T, especially a film centering on Gonzo. Rowlf and Scooter are sadly missing, however, in all but a few scenes. I suspect this is due to Rowlf’s distinctive voice not having found a replacement since Mr. Henson’s demise. Instead, Rizzo the Rat and a relatively new character named Pepe have most of the screen time. This takes some getting used to because we all miss the old characters, but it’s nice to see that the writers aren’t solely reliant on what’s been done before. I’ve seen it twice. Found it funnier than South Park or American Pie.
—Joe Foster, age 20, non-Christian
Comments from young people
This movie was TOTALLY AWESOME!!!… I had been awaiting the movie for a while, and was not disappointed after I saw it. The movie was hilarious, and I would recomend it to everyone. I would have to say that the movie was the best for its parodies on the popular Sci-Fi movies, like MIB, ID4, Star Wars, and Star Trek. If you like the muppets or enjoy movies with parodies, then I would suggest to you Muppets From Space.
—Duane Metz, age 17
Ok—I totally disagree with the reviewer. My friends and I went to go see this movie and it was the best one we had seen in quite a while. I grew up with the muppets and I still liked the movie. I loved the sound track that went along with it. My friends and I were dancing along, if you want to go see a movie I would suggest this one—it is awesome.
—Krista Jean, age 16
I also disagree with the reviewer I went to see this movie with several of my friends, our ages ranging from 13 to 19, directaly after seeing Inspecter Gadget and we all thought Muppets from Space was much better. It was Funny, Interesting and surprised you several times with Celebrity Guest Appearences.
—Laura, age 13