The Weekend Rent: A History of the 'Muppets'

The Weekend Rent: A History of the 'Muppets'

Nov 25, 2011

This weekend Jim Henson's creations—including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie the Bear and Gonzo the Great—return to the big screen for the first time in 12 years in The Muppets. Jason Segel and Amy Adams play a couple that tries to raise enough money to save the Muppet Theater from an oilman who intends to raze it. To do so, they have to round up the Muppets who have gone their separate ways around the globe. The film currently has a 98% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, proving sometimes it is easy being green.

Henson first coined the term Muppet—a combination of "marionette" and "puppet"—in 1956 and began creating Muppets like Rowlf the Dog for commercials. Soon Muppets took over the children's TV program Sesame Street and one of its Muppets, Kermit the Frog, made the transition to The Muppet Show. Kermit played host and helped introduce the world to a whole new team of Muppets for the weekly variety show that featured guest stars like Debbie Harry, Alice Cooper, Johnny Cash, Roger Moore and many other celebrities.

After the success of their show, the Muppets made their big-screen debut in 1979's The Muppet Movie, a movie within a movie that opens with Kermit singing "Rainbow Connection" in a swamp and tells the story of him coming to Hollywood with the intent of "making millions of people happy." The film also explores his enduring cross-species romance with Miss Piggy. In 1981's The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo play reporters who are assigned to investigate a jewel theft from a fashion designer (Diana Rigg).

Frank Oz—the man behind Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Animal, Sam the Eagle and co-director of The Dark Crystal—took over directorial duties for 1984's Broadway-themed The Muppets Take Manhattan, which was the final theatrical Muppets movie before Henson's death in 1990. The film introduced the Muppet Babies, who later got their own animated TV series.

Jim Henson's son, Brian, took over directorial duties for 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol—a take on the classic Charles Dickens story with Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. Brian Henson also directed the fifth big-screen Muppets adventure, 1996's Muppet Treasure Island, which is based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel and features Tim Curry as Long John Silver.

The sixth Muppets movie and the first one since Jim Henson's death to have a Muppets-centric plot is 1999's Muppets from Space, a sci-fi adventure in which Gonzo comes to realize that he is an alien from outer space and stars David Arquette, Rob Schneider, Andie MacDowell, Ray Liotta and Kathy Griffin. Muppets from Space was the last theatrical Muppets movie until The Muppets, but you can also find two interim Muppets made-for-TV flicks on DVD: 2002's It's a Very Muppet Christmas Movie and 2005's The Muppets' Wizard of Oz.

Categories: Features, At Home
Tags: The Muppets
blog comments powered by Disqus

Facebook on