Muppets From Space is a 1999 Muppets movie starring their regular cast of characters, focusing on Gonzo's back story. It is directed by Tim Hill. It is so far the only Muppet movie to not be a musical, with the score being filled with already-popular oldies soul and funk (some of which are covered for the film), and it also has the distinction of being the last Henson-related film featuring Frank Oz before he retired his characters to someone else. Additionally, it is the first Muppet film since Jim Henson's death that has an original story and is not a spoof/tribute to a popular work of literature, and the humor is based on the more recent Muppets Tonight show.In this film, the Muppets are living communally in an old house (for some reason), with Piggy's motivation to become a successful TV reporter being the only clear source of their income. Gonzo feels lonely, because there's no one like him; he has friends, but no family, and everyone else does. Feeling despondent, he is contacted through his breakfast cereal (no, really) and told to watch the sky. Eventually, he is convinced that he is actually an alien that somehow wound up on Earth; elated at the thought that there may be more of his kind in space, he tries to communicate with the other beings, while being thought of as crazy by his friends. Between being duped into building a Jacuzzi for the aliens, being captured and interrogated by a anonymous government agency headed by Jeffrey Tambor, and nearly being dissected by a (Muppet) Mad Scientist, it takes a while before Gonzo finally gets to meet his space-brethren.It received mixed reviews, with some minor Internet Backlash, though the majority seem to consider this to be a fairly good Muppet film. It also seemed, for a while, that it might be the last of its kind - the next film would not come for another twelve years!
The film provides examples of:
Absentee Actor: Frank Oz was unavailable for most of the filming. In his absence, Miss Piggy was performed by Peter Linz (and Steve Whitmire in at least one scene), Fozzie and Sam were both performed by John Kennedy, and Animal was performed by Rickey Boyd. Oz looped his characters' voices for the scenes in which he was not on the set for.
Arbitrary Skepticism: A mild case, as Gonzo's friends openly doubt his claims that he's from outer space. Granted, Gonzo's an oddball, but he is the only "whatever" they've ever seen before. Not to mention his alien status is being doubted in a world full of talking frogs, pigs, bears and rats.
The Ark: The movie begins with Gonzo having a nightmare about Noah refusing to let him onto the ark because he can't identify his species.
Brainwashed: Miss Piggy is given a container of a spray that will make people cater to her every whim.
Brick Joke: In the beginning, Pepe and Rizzo trick Gonzo into building a jacuzzi because "If you build a jacuzzi, we will commmme, okaayyy..." Once the movie comes to a close, Gonzo wonders why he had to build a jacuzzi in the first place.
It did get a brief Mythology Gag in The Muppets, though. In that movie, when Gonzo is preparing to blow up the plumbing factory that he owns so that he can rejoin the cast of The Muppet Show, he addresses the crowd of baffled onlookers as "People of Earth!", likely as a nod to his alien heritage.
Cerebus Retcon: All those one off gags about Gonzo being a "Whatever" are looked at here in a more dramatic light.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: You'd think Camilla, Gonzo's decades-long girlfriend, would be a major player in a movie about Gonzo being reunited with his alien family and potentially leaving the planet forever, but the chicken is nowhere to be seen.
DVD Commentary: A fun example, as director Tim Hill is joined by Gonzo and Rizzo. They spend as much time doing a MST3K style riff or absurd in-universe stories as they do actual commentary, complete with the signature silhouettes. To make it even funnier, Kermit is initially with them, but leaves to get popcorn and doesn't return until the end of the film; he explains that on his way back, he accidentally entered the wrong DVD and ended up in a commentary for The Phantom Menace. It took him until the very end of that movie to realize that he'd mistaken Jar Jar Binks for Gonzo, prompting him to return to the correct DVD.
Expospeak Gag: The sub-atomic neutro-destabilizer. In other words, "the really big gun," for those who are intellectually impaired, like Rentro.
Heel-Face Turn: Ed and Bobo, though Bobo wasn't all that bad to start.
Dr. Phil van Neuter ends up befriending the lab rats, having been beaten into submission by them.
I Choose to Stay: Gonzo doesn't go "home" to his planet, but stays on his adopted home, Earth.
If It Was Funny The First Time: Statler and Waldorf's 'life on other planets' exchange quoted up the top of the page was originally done on The Muppet Show years earlier. Statler groans and screws up his face after he laughs for a moment, possibly remembering that this isn't the first time he's suckered himself in this specific manner...
One-Shot Character: The way things are now (as of 2014, after the release of Muppets Most Wanted), it seems likely that this film will be Clifford's only appearance in a theatrically-released Muppet movie.
OOC Is Serious Business: Gonzo was set to perform at a bar mitzvah, but not feeling up to it, he gets the Electric Mayhem to sub for him instead. Kermit takes notice.
Kermit: You never miss the chance to shoot yourself out of a cannon.
Parental Bonus: Bunsen and Beaker trading their bags of snack food to a van full of stoner hippies in exchange for a ride to the beach.
Not to mention that whole business of Animal getting some.
The score being comprised of 70's funk makes some wonder if Parental Bonus was the direction a family-friendly Muppet film was supposed to go. 'Brickhouse' is played over the Muppets waking up and getting ready for the day, but only in reference to how they live in a brick house. A few Muppets say uncharacteristic 70's one-liners, such as Kermit's "Way to get down with your bad selves." Even the poster on the top of this page has the tagline "The Ultimate Muppet Trip."
Sam the Eagle's line about how there are only Americans in the house has got to be a reference to illegal aliens.
Also known as "Total strangers, however much they may enjoy parties and launching themselves out of cannons, are not necessarily more of a family than the people you've lived/worked with and been supported by for the past several decades."
To Independence Day when Dr. Phil van Neuter tries to remove Gonzo's brain. The Big Bad marches his superior officer into an observation room and raises the shades — to reveal a lab filled with smoke and rats running rampant, before the surgeon is slammed face-first into the window:
Too Dumb to Live: Fozzie, as per usual. This time, it was going to the bathroom, and washing his hands while wearing invisibility spray, while sneaking around in a heavily guarded compound. Kermit realizes this, and the first thing he says is "Tell me you didn't wash your hands."