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Film: The Muppet Movie

Robin: Uncle Kermit, is this how the Muppets really got started?
Kermit: Well, it's sort of approximately how it happened.

In the summer of 1979, Jim Henson brought his beloved characters from The Muppet Show to the big screen to tell their story. After a very meta Cold Opening where we see the Muppets attending a private screening of their own film, we see how Kermit was inspired to leave his home in the swamp and head to Hollywood.

Along the way, he picks up a familiar assortment of friends: Fozzie Bear, a struggling ursine comedian; The Great Gonzo, "prince of plumbing" turned would-be actor; Miss Piggy, self-proclaimed "actress/model"; Rowlf the piano-playing dog; the eccentric inventors Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker; and the psychedelic Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and their road manager Scooter. Unfortunately, Kermit also attracts the attention of Doc Hopper, an unscrupulous restaurateur who's dead set on getting Kermit as a spokes-frog for his fried frog-legs stands. Throw in some catchy musical numbers by Paul Williams and an assortment of celebrity cameos, and you've got the makings of a much-loved movie.

To date, The Muppet Movie remains the most profitable and highest grossing (accounting for inflation) live-action children's film in history.

Not to be confused with the 2011 movie The Muppets (though that one's technically a sequel of sorts).


This film features examples of:

  • Aside Comment: A few.
    Kermit: (to camera) Good grief, it's a Running Gag.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: Piggy wants Kermit to whisper sweet nothings in her ear.
    Kermit: Um... motorcycle cop.
    Piggy: "Motorcycle cop" is a sweet nothing?
    Kermit: A motorcycle cop is chasing us!
  • Attack of the Fifty Foot Animal: After he eats Bunsen's growth pills.
  • Author Avatar: Kermit's journey from Mississippi to show biz is an allegory for Henson's career. Doesn't hurt Henson plays Kermit, too.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: "El Sleezo Cafe"
  • Balloonacy: Happens to Gonzo at one point.
  • Berserk Button: Prof. Krassman pushes two of Miss Piggy's at the same time - threatening Kermit, and pig/pork jokes. It doesn't go well for him.
    Prof. Krassman: Say goodbye to the frog, pig!
    Miss Piggy: Why should I?
    Prof. Krassman: Because in sixty seconds, he won't know you from kosher bacon!
    Miss Piggy: THAT DOES IT! HIIIIIII-YAAAAAAAAH!
    • Dr. Teeth almost pushes it by referring to the incoming motorcycle cop (actually Max in disguise) as a "P, I...", but luckily Miss Piggy manages to cut him off successfully before he can get to the "G" by snarling, "DON'T... YOU... DARE."
      Dr. Teeth: Wouldn't dream of it.
  • Between My Legs: Seen during the showdown.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: "The Rainbow Connection" has become the unofficially official theme for the Muppets in general.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Sweetums finally catches up to Kermit and the gang at the end...by bursting through the screen of the theater.
    • Dr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem finding the gang by reading the screenplay they gave them.
  • The Cameo: Dozens of them, mostly human, though at one point Kermit and Fozzie run into Big Bird, who tells them, "I'm on my way to New York City, to try and break into public television."
    • All right, let's see... Steve Martin is serving wine, Elliot Gould is a beauty contest emcee, Richard Pryor is selling balloons, Milton Berle is a used car salesman, Carol Kane keeps showing up when someone says "Myth", Mel Brooks is a mad scientist, Dom De Luise is chased by an alligator and sets Kermit off on his journey to Hollywood, Madeline Kahn is a patron at The El Sleezo Cafe with Telly Savalas as her boyfriend (and where James Coburn is the owner), Bob Hope sells ice cream cones, and Cloris Leachman is secretary to Orson Welles, who gives The Muppets the standard 'Rich & Famous' contract. Plus Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy as themselves. Tada!
    • On the non-human side, the final shot features many of the puppets used in Henson's previous projects.
  • Callback: The scene where Kermit over-enunciates "Al-li-gat-ors" to Dom DeLuise is a callback to a scene in The Muppet Show, said by Piggy.
    • Miss Piggy still hates jokes made at the expense of her species. Especially if a non-pig makes such jokes.
  • Captivity Harmonica: Rowlf in the campfire scene.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Who knew The Electric Mayhem would have kept that copy of the screenplay?
    • Also, Bunsen's insta-grow pills.
  • Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Fozzie's newly painted car in front of a billboard.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Doc Hopper initially tries to get Kermit to perform in his ads by telling him he could earn five hundred dollars "every year."note  Fozzie is tempted.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The gang stumbles upon Miss Piggy hitchhiking in the desert.
    Miss Piggy: What an unbelieveable coincidence!
  • Cool Car: Fozzie's 1951 Studebaker, which is now in the Studebaker National Museum collection.
    • Also the 1946 Ford "woodie" station wagon that they buy from Mad Man Mooney.
    • For that matter, the Electric Mayhem's tour bus.
  • Creator Cameo: James Frawley, the director, is the waiter at the El Sleezo Cafe.
    • Paul Williams, who wrote "The Rainbow Connection" and all the other songs, is El Sleezo's piano player.
      • The badass biker who tosses Fozzie at the El Sleezo Cafe was played by Fozzie's own puppeteer, Frank Oz.
      • Other Henson performers and employees who make cameos also include Steve Whitmire, standing behind Kermit in the audience during the Bogen County Beauty Pageant, and Lisa Henson, who is one of the contestants.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Miss Piggy, though she's really a moron only around Kermit.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kermit has his moments.
    Fozzie: I don't know how to thank you guys!
    Kermit: I don't know why to thank you guys.
  • Directionless Driver: Fozzie's route from Louisiana to California goes through Rhode Island and Saskatchewan.
  • Dumb and Drummer: Animal is portrayed this way.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Sweetums is only known in the movie as "Jack."
    "Jack not name. Jack job!"
    • For those that don't get it, his job is moving cars around at Mad Man Mooney's... which he does by lifting them up by the bumper.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: "The Rainbow Connection," of course. It even provides the page quote.
  • Expy: Lew Lord (Orson Welles) is Lew Grade, who gave Henson his big break, and shepherded his career (and actually was a Lord).
  • Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Doc Hopper, since he's sort of an evil Captain Ersatz of Colonel Sanders.
  • Follow That Car: In this movie, this command's bound to go awry...
    Doc Hopper: Follow that frog!
    [Max drives off]
    Doc Hopper: MAX!!!!!
    [Max backs up]
    Doc Hopper: Follow that frog with me in the car!
  • Foreshadowing: Gonzo mentions that he wants to move to Bombay, India to become a movie star. He'll follow up on this in Season Four of The Muppet Show, which aired after the film's release.
    • While the other Muppets try to explain to Gonzo that one goes to Hollywood to become a movie star, Bombay (now Mumbai) was then and is now the center of the massive Bollywood industry, meaning that Gonzo may not have been entirely random.
      Gonzo: Sure, if you want to do it the easy way.
    • Also, be honest, how many of you already guessed Gonzo's origins (He's an alien) just by listening to him sing '''this''' song?
  • Framing Device: The Muppets attending the premiere of the movie, making the main movie a Show Within a Show. The film even breaks at one point.
    • "Huernder hinder flip-flip-flip-flip-flip!"
    • Fortunately, "der flim is okey-dokey".
  • Girlish Pigtails: Miss Piggy wears some for part of the movie. Get it?
  • Ghost Town: Where they find Bunsen and Beaker.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Max, Doc Hopper's nerdy right hand man. When Hopper hires the deadly professional frog killer to take Kermit down, Max realizes just what kind of guy he's been working for, and dresses as a cop in order to pull over the Muppet bus and warn them.
  • Herr Doctor: Prof. Krassman. Definitely of the Mad Scientist variety.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: While technically not outtakes as such (as they were never intended to be part of the finished film), the footage shot by director James Frawley to test the cameras while setting up at exterior locations includes some wonderful ad-lib work by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Watch it here and here.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Krassman gets stuck in the mind-melting machine and starts blurting, "Ribbit! Ribbit! Ribbit!"
  • Honest John's Dealership: Mad Man Mooney.
  • Hulkspeak: "Jack not name. Jack job!"
  • "I Want" Song: "The Rainbow Connection", also something of an Ear Worm.
    • Also "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday".
  • In Memoriam: The movie is "dedicated to the memory and magic of Edgar Bergen", who'd died shortly after filming his cameo appearance in 1978.
  • It's All My Fault: Kermit when his group is stranded in the desert.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Seriously, what do you expect in a movie when Mel Brooks shows up? In fact, when Miss Piggy freaks out and starts beating the crap out of the thugs, Krassman briefly drops the accent and speaks in Brooks' normal voice for a couple of lines.
  • Kitschy Local Commercial: Doc Hopper shows Kermit the current advertisement for his restaurants when he first tries to talk him into becoming a spokesfrog — it features Hopper in a goofy frog suit performing a song about the varieties of french-fried frog legs available.
  • Lame Pun Reaction:
    Kermit: (on the oft-used Hare Krishna gag) Good grief, it's a Running Gag.
  • Late to the Party
    Sweetums: I just knew I'd catch up with you guys!
  • Let's Meet the Meat: Doc Hopper's proposal for Kermit to advertise for "Hopper's French-Fried Frog Legs". Kermit is fully aware of the inherent horror of this trope, however. ("All I can see are millions of frogs with tiny crutches.")
  • Literal Metaphor
    "I hear this movie is dynamite."
    BOOM
    • Fork in the road, start with a bang, drinks on the house—it's a Running Gag.
  • Love at First Sight: When Miss Piggy meets Kermit (and even follows it up with a romantic montage!)
    Piggy (singing): "Never before! And never again!..."
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: Kermit's inner self literally appears to help him with a moral crisis.
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Fozzie's Studebaker is painted in psychedelic colors by the Electric Mayhem to help Kermit elude Doc Hopper. The paint job doesn't fool Hopper, but it does hide it surprisingly well when they stop in front of a similarly-painted billboard.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Max. He works for Doc Hopper but immediately takes a moral stand against him the moment Kermit mentions frogs on tiny crutches. While he then continues to work for him when offered a hefty raise, when Doc hires the frog killer he goes out of his way to warn the Muppets. When Doc and his men are scared away, he can't get the grin off his face.
  • No Fourth Wall: Perhaps the best example is Kermit and Fozzie explaining their story to the Electric Mayhem by giving them a copy of the movie script. The band later saves Kermit and company from the desert, having found them by referring to the script they left behind.
    Dr. Teeth: See, "Exterior, desert, night". We knew right where you were!
  • Not Actually The Ultimate Question: "Have you tried Hare Krishna?"
  • Not Hyperbole: "When a German scientist tells you to hold onto your hat, it's not casual conversation. Hold on to your hat! Hat! Hold!"
  • Number of the Beast: Visible on the digital readout on Prof. Krassman's mind-melting machine.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: In an Imagine Spot, Miss Piggy pictures herself doing this with Kermit. Also depicted in one version of the movie poster and on the cover of the original soundtrack album.
  • Only in It for the Money: After Max's Heel Realization, he only continues to serve Doc Hopper because Hopper offers to double his percentage (i.e. his share of the company). However, when the Frog Killer is hired, not even money will keep him attached to Hopper, and he flags down the Muppets while disguised as a motorcycle cop simply to warn them about Hopper's plans.
  • Origins Episode
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: "One of the finest wines of Idaho."
  • Parental Bonus: Some of the jokes are way obscure, though the outside is usually funny enough.
    Gonzo: I always wanted to go to Bombay, India, and become a movie star.
    Fozzie: You don't go to Bombay to become a movie star. You go where we're going, Hollywood!
    Gonzo: Sure, if you want to do it the easy way.
    • For that matter, most of the pop culture references may be too far out-of-date for some viewers to get them today.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "It is indeed a problem for us to probosculate upon!"
  • The Piano Player: Paul Williams, his own self. In real life, Williams does not play the piano, and all piano playing was mimed.
  • Pie in the Face: Variation: Doc Hopper's car gets a giant pie in the windshield! (See This Billboard Needs Some Salt below.)
  • Punny Name: Prof. Krassman. Appropriately, a crass comment he makes to Miss Piggy leads to his downfall.
  • Reading Ahead in the Script: The Electric Mayhem come to rescue Kermit and the others when they get stranded in the desert. How did they knew they were there? They read it in the script Kermit had given them earlier.
  • Redemption Rejection: Hopper appears affected by Kermit's Patrick Stewart Speech, but then orders his men to kill them all. Henson actually wanted him to be redeemed at first, but Frank Oz talked him out of it.
  • Retcon: Scooter and the band had different and unconnected origin stories in the first seasons of the series, but are now shown as being a single unit before the show got together. (Handwaved by Kermit to Robin in the opening. "Well, it's sort of approximately how it happened.")
  • Road Movie
  • A Round of Drinks for the House: Fozzie defuses a Bar Brawl by impersonating the bartender and shouting "Drinks are on the house!" Of course, this being the Muppets, this causes all of the brawlers to race to the roof of the bar where they look futilely for the drinks.
  • Rule of Three: "Lost? Have you tried the Reverend Hare Krishna?" (See Running Gag below.)
  • Running Gag: "Have you tried Hare Krishna?" Also, the "Myth! Myth!" thing.
    • Yeth?
    • Kermit has a classic Lampshade Hanging referring (in disgust) to the Hare Krishna bit... "Good grief, it's a running gag."
    • Don't forget Sweetums pursuing the gang...which also turns into something of a Brick Joke.
      • Not to mention Gonzo landing on Kermit's car.
      Gonzo: I'm back!
      Miss Piggy: I don't understand any of this.
      • At the end, Sweetums literally bursts through the movie screen and joyfully shouts, "I just KNEW I'd find you guys!"
  • Scenic Route: What we see as Fozzie sings "America the Beautiful".
    Kermit: This is the patriotic part.
    Robin: Should we stand up?
  • Setting Off Song: "Movin' Right Along". The first few bars get replayed when they drive off anywhere. Just to drill it into your head further.
    Kermit: Move it right along Fozzie.
  • Servile Snarker: Steve Martin, in yet another cameo, as an extremely rude waiter.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Dom De Luise only gets a small cameo at the beginning of the movie, but his suggestion that Kermit go to Hollywood sets the whole plot in motion.
  • Stock Animal Diet: At the County Fair, Fozzie goes to Bob Hope to get ice cream. He orders a cone of honey flavor for himself, and a cone of "Dragonfly Ripple" for Kermit.
  • Talking to Themself: Kermit literally talks with another version of himself in the desert scene.
  • There Is Another: In this case, many others. For the finale, two hundred and fifty Muppets, all preexisting, appear. As mentioned above, a whole bunch of extra people (including Tim Burton and John Landis) had to be called in to operate all of them.
  • This Billboard Needs Some Salt: One for Aunt Amy's Custard Pies has an actual, giant custard pie on it, and it inadvertently brings both Gonzo's Balloonacy escapade and Doc Hopper's latest attempt to get Kermit to an end: Fozzie's car hits the billboard, and this sends the pie flying onto Hopper's car. Hopper accidentally fires his shotgun into the air when that happens, which bursts the balloons and causes Gonzo to come back down to Earth. As Hopper rants over his latest defeat, Max enjoys some pie.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "The lovers, the dreamers, and you."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Within the film itself; see the page quote.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Okay, who's the idiot who threatened Kermit in front of Miss Piggy?
  • Visual Pun: Kermit tells Fozzie to turn left at the fork in the road. Sure enough... a giant fork is stuck in the road like a landmark.
    Kermit: I don't believe that.
  • Wallpaper Camouflage: With a car!
  • What's a Henway?: "Gonzo! What are you doing?" "About seven knots!"
  • Who Is Driving?: Neither Kermit nor Fozzie, it seems.
  • Wrong Turn at Albuquerque: "Movin' Right Along" is one long Running Gag about how terribly lost Kermit and Fozzie get on their drive to California.
  • You Are Worth Hell: When Kermit and Miss Piggy are being held captive by Doc Hopper's minions and the mad scientist who is preparing to give him what amounts to a new form of lobotomy, Miss Piggy plays this straight then Kermit subverts it:
    Miss Piggy: Whatever happens next, I wouldn't trade this night for anything. Would you?
    Kermit: Make me an offer.


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alternative title(s): The Muppet Movie
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