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Film / Muppets from Space

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"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 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, its humor based on the more recent Muppets Tonight show.

It also has the distinction of being the last Henson-related film featuring Frank Oz before he retired his characters to successor Eric Jacobson, and the Muppets' last independently-released feature film before they were bought by Disney in 2004 (though Kermit's Swamp Years & It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie arrived on home video & NBC respectively in 2002).

In this film, the Muppets are living communally in an old house (apparently it's their vacation home), 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 an 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 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 theatrically released film would not come for another twelve years!

Within the Muppets continuity as a whole, Gonzo has stated that the concept of him being an alien was just made up for this movie.

The film provides examples of:

  • Aliens Speaking English: Gonzo's family all speak English.
  • Alone Among Families: Looking at photos of the other Muppets, Gonzo notices that each of his friends has relatives, whereas his photo is of him standing all alone, way off on the distance.
  • 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.
  • Arc Words: "R U THERE", the message that Gonzo's people use to contact him throughout the film. C.O.V.N.E.T's global surveillance reveals that the message has been etched/scrawled/written into various landmarks across the world, including the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, The Great Wall of China, and the Hills of California (in the style of the Hollywood Sign).
  • 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: Mostly because Ed's organization are dedicated to deal with alien invasions.
  • Badass Boast: From Pepe when Rizzo thinks he has left them behind at the lab, and calls him a "shrimp":
    Pepe: I am not a shrimp! I am a KING PRAWN!
  • Bedtime Brainwashing: Pepe and Rizzo use this and a fan to get Gonzo to build a jacuzzi.
    "Build a jacuzzi and we will come, okay..."
  • 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!"
  • Brainwashed: Miss Piggy is given a container of a spray that will make people cater to her every whim.
  • Brain Theft: The government threatens to suck Gonzo's brain out with a huge machine that is like a cross between a drill and a vacuum cleaner (and is big enough to require a cart). Cue Gonzo screaming "NOOOOOO! I NEED MY BRAIN!"
  • 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.
    • A smaller example occurs earlier in the movie. After the opening sequence, Kermit explains to Robin that he is hiring some house painters. A few scenes later, Clifford tells Kermit that the house painters are here… and are leaving because Animal bit one of them. Much later, Kermit is shown having to paint the house himself.
  • Buffy Speak
    Ed: ...The really big gun!
    Bobo: Oh!
  • Big "NO!":
    • Gonzo after he wakes up from the nightmare about Noah denying him entrance to the ark.
    • Gonzo again at the end of the film when Singer is going to kill him and his family.
  • The Bus Came Back: Scooter makes his first appearance since Richard Hunt’s death back in 1992.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Just before the rats escape they're confronted by the scientist.
    Scientist: Hey, rodents! You know all that cheese I promised you after you ran that maze and took those was delicious. (Evil Laugh)
  • Call-Back: The cheer Kermit does at the climax is exactly like the one he does in the opening of The Muppet Show.
  • The Cameo: Done a bit more low-key than in other Muppet movies, but they're still here—Andie MacDowell as Shelley Snipes, Rob Schneider as her producer, Josh Charles as a C.O.V.N.E.T. agent, David Arquette as a sadistic scientist, Hulk Hogan (in his "Hollywood Hogan" phase), Ray Liotta and Kathy Griffin as C.O.V.N.E.T. security guards, Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes as their Dawson's Creek characters, and, in Gonzo's nightmare, F. Murray Abraham as Noah.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • According to 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 (and the fact it's a Muppet movie Disney doesn't own).
    • It did get a brief Mythology Gag in The Muppets (2011), 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.
    • Earlier in that film, you can see a DVD copy of the film in Walter's house, so it's possible that in the universe of that film this was also a film.
  • 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.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Parodied. When Ed's boss realizes he's gone off the deep end and terminates his employment, Ed is visibly nervous about the word choice.
  • Dream Intro: The film opens with Gonzo's dream wherein he is denied passage on Noah's ark since there is only one of him on Earth.
  • 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.
  • Easily Forgiven: Bunsen and Beaker apparently have no ill will over the gang accidentally leaving them behind at the gas station.
  • Expospeak Gag: The sub-atomic neutro-destabilizer. In other words, "the really big gun," for those who are intellectually impaired, like Rentro.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Look closely at the newspaper Kermit reads- it's the "Hensonville News Observer".
  • Groin Attack: Miss Piggy on the unlucky Man in Black.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Ball: 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." His mom tells him to always wash his hands after going to the bathroom, "no exceptions".
  • If It Was Funny the First Time...: Statler and Waldorf's 'life on other planets' exchange quoted at the bottom 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?
  • It Runs in the Family: Scooter's dialogue in this film is voiced by the late Richard Hunt's brother, Adam, though he did not perform the puppetry. Despite his vocal similarity to his brother, Adam's only other Muppets-related voice role was as the Two-Headed Monster (with Jerry Nelson) in a Sesame Street video game.
  • Karma Houdini: The scientist in charge of the lab rats, who acts like a jerk ass to them, and happily reveals that he ate the cheese he promised them for doing all their hard work. The closest he gets to karma is the fact that he likely became unemployed after the company is terminated by the government.
  • Little Green Men: A kid mistakes Kermit for one of these.
  • Lobotomy: It nearly happens to Gonzo. The man attempting to perform the lobotomy is a classic Mad Scientist.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Named After Someone Famous: K. Edgar Singer is named after J. Edgar Hoover, the famed FBI Director.
  • 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 separated from his alien brethren and ended up on Earth.
  • 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: 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.
  • One-Steve Limit: The villain is named K. Edgar Singer and one of the lab rats is named Fast Eddie. And both get referred to as Ed at least once.
  • O.O.C. 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.
  • 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: Gonzo chooses to stay with his friends instead of his family, who he's only known for a short time.
  • Product Placement: This is a Columbia Pictures movie, after all.
    • The government agency's monitors are Sony television screens. The product placement is so shameless they don't even bother covering the logo from of the sets!
    • Beaker is seen holding a bag of Fritos.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "DON'T! ...LAUGH! ...AT ME!"
  • Punny Name: K. Edgar Singer. Initial, "Edgar", name of domestic appliance company, in reference to J. Edgar Hoover.
  • Those Two Guys: Gonzo and Rizzo, though it's a subversion since they're more prominent characters this time around. Rizzo and Pepe fit this as well, especially during the scene where they trick Gonzo into thinking the aliens called upon him to build a Jacuzzi.
  • 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 bear to leave them.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In a world where several humanoid animals co-exist with humans as equals, Rizzo comes to Covnet with Gonzo and Edgar has him get sent to the rat testing labs like a prisoner, and Edgar later gets Rentro, a bear who serves as his assistant, to reveal what he overheard by threatening to send him to the petting zoo or circus.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The Muppets appear to live in the town of "Hensonville" (as evidenced by the newspaper Kermit's seen reading, the "Hensonville News Observer"), but a definitive location isn't given. When Singer points out the pattern of "R U THERE" messages early on, he notes it forms into a spiral pattern; the spiral seems to end somewhere in North Carolina (which is likely because the film was shot in Wilmington NC, making it a case of Creator Provincialism)
  • You Are Not Alone: The whole premise. On two levels: Gonzo finds out there are others like him, and at the end Gonzo realizes although he's "one of a kind" on earth he still has his Muppet family.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Miss Piggy's job at the UFO Mania before using Mind Rape to get anchor Shelley Snipes to do it.

Statler: I wonder if there really is life on other planets?
Waldorf: Why do you care? You don't have a life on this planet.
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!


Video Example(s):


Doctor? Doctor!

While infiltrating a government facility, Kermit and Pepe's ridiculous disguise earns them a a look. Kermit just nods and says 'Doctor.'

Pepe briefly asks 'Doctor?'

To which Kermit responds 'Doctor!'

The doctor leaves them alone.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / DoctorDoctorDoctor

Media sources: