September 5th feels a very long time ago now. It was the day that I launched BlogalongaMuppets onto the world, with a view to watching each of the Muppet films in order before the release of The Muppets. Tomorrow, that dream finally becomes a reality, as Mrs Evangelist and I will head off together to watch the still-confusingly-titled The Muppets. It’s been a slightly strange journey, as when I set out I thought that I’d not seen many of the films, only to realise when watching the films that I had actually seen most of them before. Except this one.
Muppets From Space came out in 1999, and despite being 25 I did contemplate seeing it at the cinema. If I was as obsessive then as I am now, I probably would have done. But then, the Muppets were on the way down, not bathed in the warm glow of nostalgia that surrounds them today. (That glow had surrounded them at the start of Muppets Tonight three years earlier; then people actually saw the show.) The ingredients were all there: it was co-written by Jerry Juhl, long time Muppet writer who’d worked on the show, as well as the Caper, Christmas Carol and Treasure Island films and other Muppet projects like Fraggle Rock, and was directed by Tim Hill, who’s written more episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants than anyone except the show’s creator. (He has gone onto make Alvin And The Chipmunks and Hop, which maybe explains something).
But it’s just not right. While it follows the formula, with all of the formula elements in place, and a mixture of Muppets from pretty much every era, the need to explain Gonzo’s back story, and make him an alien rather than a whatever, detracts from the character. At only one hour and eighteen minutes before the credits roll, it’s also far too short. It’s undoubtedly an acquired taste; somehow attempting to describe it doesn’t feel as if I could do it justice, so here’s eight screen shots taken from the movie itself.
Make of them what you will.
Next time: Not quite The Muppets. Before the film itself, I’ll be running down my favourite Muppets, from every different version of TV, film and whatever the hell this was. Then The Muppets.