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Film: Muppets from Space

"Kermit is a frog. Fozzie is a bear. Gonzo is...what exactly is Gonzo?"
The Hub's commercial for this movie

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 (puppet) 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:

  • Alien Among Us: Gonzo.
  • 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.
  • Armies Are Evil
  • Bad Bad Acting: Piggy as a newscaster.
  • Berserk Button: Don't laugh at Ed.
  • BFG: "The Really Big Gun" that Ed uses at the climax ...which Bobo disarms before Ed ever gets to fire it.
    Kermit: Gee, that was close...
    Bobo: Not as close as you think, my friend. ...*Holds up the BFG's power source* "Please load weapon!"
  • Bland-Name Product
  • 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.
  • Buffy Speak
    Ed: ...The really big gun!
    Bobo: Oh!
  • Canon Discontinuity: According to Boom! Kids The Muppet Show Comic Book. This is likely not so much because of the quality of the movie though, more just for actually resolving what Gonzo is.
    • 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.
  • Call Back: The cheer Kermit does at the climax is exactly like the one he does in the opening of The Muppet Show.
  • 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.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Gonzo
  • A Day in the Limelight: Unlike most Muppet movies, this one focuses more on Gonzo, than on Kermit.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rizzo — of course.
  • Doctor Doctor Doctor: Kermit and Pepe.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Gonzo's speech about being an alien sounds an awful lot like coming out of the closet...
  • 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.
  • Fish out of Water: Gonzo.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Animal was chasing a female security guard to distract her from the other Muppets. The next scene shows him being chased by her....with her hair down and begging him to come back.
  • 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...
  • Insistent Terminology: Pepe is not a shrimp. He is a king prawn, okay?
  • Invisibility Cloak: Well, spray.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Bobo makes sure Ed doesn't do any real harm.
  • Lobotomy: It nearly happens to Gonzo. The man attempting to perform the lobotomy is a classic Mad Scientist.
  • The Men in Black
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Bobo. Justified, in that the facility they work at is a legitimate military intelligence organization and his boss has gone off the deep end.
  • More than Mind Control: Miss Piggy is given a container of a spray that will make people cater to her every whim.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • The girl dancing on the beach and baring her midriff, causing Sam the Eagle (of all characters!) to watch her with a slackjawed expression.
    • Kathy Griffin in a security guard uniform.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Kermit gives this speech to the team just prior to rescuing Gonzo... and then Fozzie tells him they just left Bunsen and Beaker at the gas station.
  • Noodle Incident: It's never quite explained how or why Gonzo got seperated from his alien brethren
  • Noodle Implements: Gonzo tells Rizzo he had "that weird dream again," and Rizzo asks if it's "the one with the goat and the dwarf and the jar of peanut butter."
  • One-Shot Character: As things are now, 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.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The aforementioned lab coats.
  • 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.
  • The Power of Friendship: ...is more important than family...?
    • 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."
    • Or maybe "True Companions are family."
  • Power Perversion Potential: Pepe and the invisibility spray. Twice.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "DON'T! ...LAUGH! ...AT ME!"
  • Punny Name: K. Edgar Singer. Initial, "Edgar", name of domestic appliance company.
  • Ring... Ring... CRUNCH: Happens during the "waking up" montage near the opening.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Society Marches On: Hulk Hogan is in his evil "Hollywood Hulk" persona ("I'm a bad guy now!") - but by the time of the film's release, Hogan had returned to being a good guy.
  • Stay with the Aliens: Ed goes with the Gonzo aliens after they make him ambassador to their planet because they find him amusing.
  • Stolen MacGuffin Reveal
  • Supporting Leader: Kermit.
  • That Poor Cat: When Gonzo mows his message in the lawn.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Gonzo and Ed, but especially Ed...
  • Those Two Guys: Gonzo and Rizzo, and Rizzo and Pepe.
  • 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."
  • Too Funny to Be Evil: Ed. Provides some of the basis for his Villainous Breakdown and Heel-Face Turn.
  • True Companions: The reason why Gonzo doesn't leave Earth to be with his alien family. The Muppets for all intents and purposes are his family, and he just can't bare to leave him.
  • Trust Me, I'm an X: When Ed, examining Gonzo, notices that Gonzo has no nostrils, he asks, "How do you smell?" To which Rizzo the Rat responds, "Awful. Trust me, I'm his roommate."
  • Totem Pole Trench: Used to infiltrate COVNET.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Well, par for the course for a Muppet film, but a bear M.I.B.?
  • Verbal Tic: Pepe has one, okay?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In-universe example, when Gonzo is puzzled why he was instructed to build a Jacuzzi. Rizzo and Pepe (who conned him into doing it) just start laughing.
  • You Are Not Alone: The whole premise. On two levels: Gonzo finds out there are others like him, and at the end Gonzao realizes although he's "one of a kind" on earth he still has his Muppet family.
Statler: I wonder if there really is life on other planets?
Waldorf: What do you care? You don't have a life on this planet.
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!
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alternative title(s): Muppets From Space
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