Over the decades, old and new Muppet fans have enjoyed the charms of “The Muppet Show” and the subsequent movies, which are now owned by Disney except for “Muppets Take Manhattan” and “Muppets in Space”. So what in the heck can be said when all that’s included on “The Muppet Movie” is a profile of Kermit the Frog, led by Pepe the Annoying Prawn? Couldn’t any Muppet historian be found who could donate their time for cheap to wax lyrical on an audio commentary about the making of The Muppet Movie and what it meant to Jim Henson to see his creations on a bigger screen? Considering the warehouses of cash Disney has stashed somewhere on its lots and in its bank accounts, what’s with the short shrift?
All that has resulted on this DVD from the new owners is a ‘Pepe Profile’ exclusively created by the Mouse, in which Pepe the Prawn, the should-have-been-a-Muppet-reject, profiles the career of Kermit the Frog. We now live with a home entertainment market which still has its risks, but a lot of benefits for DVD lovers. What’s the harm in giving this movie some extra special treatment after four years in Sony’s care? Loss of profit, hair, and livelihood, I’ll bet, but the consumer should also be factored into these decisions.
“The Muppet Movie” has never suffered, still one of many great reasons to be a movie buff. Such love pervades this production as Kermit sets out for Hollywood in the hopes of being able to make millions of people happy, while being pursued by the slimy Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), who wants Kermit to promote his chain of French fried frog-leg restaurants. Leave it to Jim Henson and his like-minded cohorts to skewer movie scripts through Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem finding Kermit and his newfound friends in the desert by reading the location in the script. And as much as film scholars try to keep Orson Welles on a tall pedestal, he proved to be a man of good humor by cameoing as the head of World Wide Studios.
Most important for Henson was the ideal that even though these characters were basically puppets, they had to have enough energy to seem more alive. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew may not have eyes, but in watching his scientific mind at work, he’s just as much alive as the slew of guest stars peppered throughout. The songs by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher also create genuine emotion. “The Rainbow Connection” has Kermit wondering about whether it’s worth it to dream while “Movin’ Right Along” is a pitch-pefect buddy/road song for a bear and a frog. By this, the road movie was still viable and fresh.
This is why one day, “The Muppet Movie” should get the treatment it deserves, in having enough to bring us through the history of the movie and back again, fully satisfied that we truly know everything about what it took to have Kermit ride a bicycle, to see the Electric Mayhem bus driven by one of the Muppets and just to be even more overjoyed by the fun the Muppets already give us.