Monday, June 6, 2011

Muppets From Space (1999)

Muppets from Space's box office performance was decidedly Earth-bound. It bombed.

That's too bad because there's plenty of good laughs for young, and older, audiences and some sharp cameos by Hollywood talent.


Poor Gonzo is feeling definitely alone. He's the only, uh, whatever exactly Gonzo is. He looks longingly at photographs of other Muppets he shares a home with. They all have family. Gonzo has nobody. A hopeful message spelled out near his breakfast cereal gives him hope he'll finally be able to find his kin. No wonder he hasn't hooked up with them at a family reunion before. They're from outer space.


Gonzo's excited search for his family roots coincides with the efforts of government agent K. Edgar Singer (Jeffrey Tambor) to prove aliens are planning a deadly attack on Earth. He offers plenty of proof, including a re-arranged Stonehenge spelling out an extraterrestrial message, to his less-than-convinced superior, General Luft (Pat Hingle). Singer zeros in on Gonzo's efforts to make contact with his people. This poor Muppet is taken captive and faces a rather unpleasant brain operation unless his friends can save him.

Slapstick comedy and some great one-liners (Gonzo: "I've always had alien tendencies." Miss Piggy calls Gonzo "the geek who fell to Earth.") make for a fun-filled 87 minutes. There's about 10 cameos with brief appearances from F. Murray Abraham, David Arquette, Josh Charles, Kathy Griffin, Hulk Hogan, Ray Liotta and Rob Schneider. Andie MacDowell (Green Card) has the most fun as Shelley Snipes, a tabloid TV show host who Miss Piggy is conniving to replace. Watching the two come to physical blows is a hoot.


Muppets From Space also gives audiences an early look at Pepe the Prawn, voiced by Bill Barretta (Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth). Who knew crustaceans could be this much fun?

This was the first Muppets film, with an original story, released since Muppet creator Jim Heson's death in 1990.

What is strange about Muppets in Space is the absence of an original score. The Muppet Movie, the first theatrical release featuring The Muppets, boasted a strong soundtrack with standout tracks such as Rainbow Connection, Movin' Right Along and I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along.


Here, audiences can groove along with a funk-based track including Brick House (Commodores) and Dazz (G. Love and Special Sauce covering the Brick song). Groovy, man!

What was bizarre to see was a suggested sexual encounter between Animal and a security guard. Why is this in a film for children?

RATING: 7/10

FUN FACTS: Pat Hingle was Commissioner Gordon in Tim Burton's reboot of Batman in 1989. Tim Hell went on to direct Alvin and the Chipmunks and Hop. Look closely for Katie Holmes in the climatic beach scene. Hear Gary Owens, the voice of Roger Ramjet, as a UFO Mania announcer. A new movie, The Muppets, opens Nov. 23, 2011.

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