Muppets from Space is a 1999 science fiction comedy film and the sixth feature film to star The Muppets, and the first since the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson to have an original Muppet-focused plot. The film was directed by Tim Hill, produced by Jim Henson Pictures, and released to theaters on July 14, 1999 by Columbia Pictures. This is the only Muppet film that doesn't focus on Kermit the Frog (it focuses on Gonzo the Great). This also marks the first film appearances of Pepe the King Prawn and Bobo the Bear in the Muppets franchise, having only appeared previously on Muppets Tonight. The film was shot in Wilmington, North Carolina at EUE/Screen Gems.
It is also the third Muppets film not to include any Sesame Street characters in its production.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Gonzo the Great has always been classified as a "whatever," (or on Muppet Babies a "weirdo") but after he begins to have disturbing dreams of abandonment and rejection, he begins to realize just how alone he is in the world. One of his nightmares involves him being denied entry onto Noah's Ark by Noah (F. Murray Abraham). The next morning, Gonzo tells Kermit the Frog that he is getting tired of being called a "whatever." After an alien race appears to be trying to send him a message through bowls of cereal, Gonzo realizes that he may not be so alone after all and climbs to the rooftop to start watching the sky. Using a bolt of lightning, Gonzo communicates with a pair of cosmic fish, revealing to him that he is an alien from outer space.
When Kermit and his friends refuse to believe him, Gonzo is lured into the clutches of K. Edgar Singer of C.O.V.N.E.T. (a government organization disguised as a cement factory) who has also taken note of the aliens' attempts at communication and thinks that Gonzo is his key to convincing his superiors that aliens do in fact exist. Gonzo, along with Rizzo the Rat, are arrested by the army. Rizzo's antics causes himself to be flushed down a tube by Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Rizzo ends up having to go through rat training held by Dr. Tucker alongside the other rats like Bubba the Rat, Shakes the Rat, Fast Eddie, and The Bird Man. Kermit and the gang (consisting of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Pepe the King Prawn, and Animal) spring into action to rescue Gonzo, using inventions such as a door in a jar, a rubber duck that sprays invisibility spray, and mind control gas from Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker.
A talking sandwich asks Gonzo where the alien ship can land, and Gonzo suggests Cape Doom (a beach). At the military base, the gang arrive to rescue Gonzo and Rizzo. While on their rescue, everyone uses invisible spray, but they are eventually exposed when Fozzie washes his hands upon exiting the restroom. When Singer hears of this, he has Agent Rentro prepare the Subatomic Neutro-Destabilizer to use on the aliens and heads to his car. When Agent Rentro tells him that the car is impounded due to the parking tickets, Singer and Agent Rentro end up taking the company car - a cement truck.
The Muppets go to Cape Doom after rescuing Gonzo and, along with a crowd of alien-happy spectators, await their arrival. The ship comes to Earth and the aliens, who all resemble Gonzo, explain that many years ago they lost him but welcome him back into the fold. Singer turns up and tries to kill the Aliens, but thanks to Agent Rentro, who has disabled his Subatomic Neutro-Destabilizer by taking the part that fires the weapon, he cannot and is laughed at. Gonzo considers going into space with the Gonzo-like aliens, but he decides after meeting his long-lost family. But while he's grateful for his fellow Gonzos for going through the trouble of locating and visiting him on Earth, he can't go with them, as he wants to stay with his fellow Muppet Show castmates, and Singer goes with the aliens as Earth's ambassador.
As the film ends with the Muppets watching the stars on the roof, Gonzo tells Kermit he wonders why his family asked him to build a Jacuzzi. Pepe chuckles because he and Rizzo had pretended to be them and asked him to do it.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Jeffrey Tambor as K. Edgar Singer
- F. Murray Abraham as Noah
- David Arquette as Dr. Tucker
- Rob Schneider as UFO Mania TV Producer
- Andie MacDowell as Shelley Snipes, UFO Mania anchorwoman
- Josh Charles as Agent Baker
- Pat Hingle as General Luft
- Hulk Hogan as Man in Black (himself)
- Ray Liotta as Gate Guard
- Kathy Griffin as Female Armed Guard
- Langley McArol as Security Guard (deleted scene)
- Gary Owens as UFO Mania Announcer's voice (uncredited)
- Joshua Jackson as Pacey Whitter (uncredited cameo)
- Katie Holmes as Joey Potter (uncredited cameo)
Muppet performers[edit | edit source]
- Main article: List of Muppets
- Dave Goelz as Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Waldorf, The Bird Man, and The Swedish Chef
- Steve Whitmire as Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Cosmic Fish #1, Bean Bunny, Miss Piggy (puppetry for one scene), Mr. Poodlepants (scenes deleted)
- Bill Barretta as Pepe the King Prawn, Bobo the Bear as Agent Rentro, Johnny Fiama, Bubba the Rat, and Cosmic Fish #2
- Jerry Nelson as Robin the Frog, Statler, Uber-Gonzo, and Floyd Pepper
- Brian Henson as Dr. Phil Van Neuter, Sal Minella, and Talking Sandwich
- John Kennedy as Dr. Teeth
- Kevin Clash as Clifford and Carter
- Frank Oz as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam the Eagle
- John Henson as Sweetums
- Adam Hunt as the voice of Scooter
- Peter Linz as "Shakes" the Rat, Miss Piggy (puppetry for several scenes)
- Drew Massey as Fast Eddie
Background Muppets (non-speaking)[edit | edit source]
- Alexis the Giraffe, Alien Gonzos, Beauregard, Baab the Sheep, Crazy Harry, Chip, Chickens, Cows, Custer the Bison, Dr. Julius Strangepork, Doreen the Camel, D'kembe the Gemsbok, Fish, Janice, Lew Zealand, Link Hogthrob, Lydia the Ostrich, Marvin Suggs, Moose Head, Monica the Musk Ox, Penguins, Rowlf the Dog, Tommy the Thomson's Gazelle, Zippity Zap, Zondra, Zoot
Production[edit | edit source]
Writing[edit | edit source]
An earlier draft of the story was written by Kirk Thatcher called "Muppets in Space." In the screenplay, aliens abducted Kermit because they believed him to be their leader, leading the other Muppets to attempt to save him. A set of Welch's Jelly Glasses were produced based around this theme. According to the production notes featured on the DVD, the film was inspired by Gonzo's song in The Muppet Movie (1979), "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday".
Music[edit | edit source]
|Muppets from Space|
This was the first Muppet film to not be a traditional musical film with original music, opting instead for a soundtrack primarily of classic soul and funk tracks. Some tracks were remade by contemporary artists, such as "Shining Star" by the Dust Brothers featuring Jeymes, and "Dazz" by G. Love and Special Sauce. Which was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound in Sheffield, AL. The band was in the studio recording with Little Milton on the "Welcome To Little Milton" record. The band got a call from Jason Brown, their manager, while in the studio, to record a song for the movie. Will McFarlane, who was a Shoals/Malaco studio regular, and former Bonnie Raitt guitarist, played with the band on the song. Parliament's "Flash Light" was updated by George Clinton as a duet with Pepe the King Prawn named "Starlight". Two soundtracks were released featuring music from the film. One was an album containing the classic soul and funk tracks, while the other was an album containing the film's score. The film's score was composed by Jamshied Sharifi, and released by Varèse Sarabande.
Earlier drafts of the film had more original music, including the song "Eye 2 the Sky", written and recorded by Ween, which was not included on the soundtrack. This song was intended to be sung by Gonzo. Dave Goelz had also recorded a new rendition of "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" for this film, a song which had originally appeared in The Muppet Movie. This song was also dropped, but was included on the Muppets from Space soundtrack, also sung by Gonzo.
Release[edit | edit source]
According to Brian Henson, the film was planned by the Henson company to be released in the winter, around February 2000, but Columbia wanted Muppets from Space to be one of their big summer movies, rushing production and causing there to be less advertising for the film. It also suffered competition from Disney's Tarzan and Inspector Gadget.
Muppets from Space is the first of two Muppet films to be released in 1999, the other being The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.
Box office[edit | edit source]
Critical reception[edit | edit source]
Reviews for the film were mixed, with a 63% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 56 reviews (though this is lower than any of the previous Muppet films, all of which have reached at least 68% favorability on that site). The site's consensus stated that "if Muppets from Space lacks the magic and wit of its cinematic predecessors, this pleasingly silly space romp is funny and clever enough to make for better-than-average family entertainment."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a two star rating (out of four) and concluded his review by saying that "maybe Muppets from Space is just not very good, and they'll make a comeback. I hope so. Because I just don't seem to care much anymore." On the other hand, Robin Rauzi of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review stating that "twenty years after The Muppet Movie and 30 after the beginning of Sesame Street, there is still life in these creations of felt, foam rubber and fake fur. With care, they will easily entertain and educate a third or fourth generation of children. The magic is back."
Home media[edit | edit source]
Muppets from Space was first released on VHS and DVD on October 26, 1999. The film was released on double DVD box set with The Muppets Take Manhattan in 2011. In the same year, the movie was released as a double feature with The Adventures of Elmo In Grouchland by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. A Blu-ray version was released on August 16, 2011, and contains the same bonus features as the DVD.
References[edit | edit source]
- (2005) Muppets From Space DVD "Production Notes" bonus feature.
- Eller, Claudia. "On the Family Entertainment Map, Henson Co. Finds Itself at Crossroads", The Los Angeles Times, July 23, 1999. Retrieved on 2010-10-18.
- Muppets from Space Movie Reviews. Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved on January 28, 2012.
- Roger Ebert. "Muppets from Space", Chicago Sun-Times, rogerebert.com, July 14, 1999. Retrieved on January 28, 2012.
- Rauzi, Robin. "Joy, Plot Restored in 'Muppets From Space'", The Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1999. Retrieved on January 28, 2012.
- Plume, Kenneth. Interview with Frank Oz (Part 3 of 4). IGN. Retrieved on 27 November 2011.
- "Muppets from Space (Blu-ray)", DVD Talk. Retrieved on 2011-12-06.