Kermit: Well, it's sort of approximately how it happened.
In the summer of 1979, Jim Henson brought his beloved cast of characters from The Muppet Show to the big screen to tell their (supposed) origin story, or at least a close enough approximation of it. Co-written by Jack Burns and Jerry Juhl and directed by James Frawley, the movie begins with a very meta Cold Opening where the Muppets attend a private screening of their own film, before we see how Kermit was inspired to leave his home in the swamps of the southeastern U.S. and headed to Hollywood — to answer a casting call in hopes of being able to make a career out of "singing and dancing and making people happy".
Along the way, he picks up a familiar assortment of friends: Fozzie Bear, a struggling ursine comedian; The Great Gonzo, "prince of plumbers" and aspiring movie star; Miss Piggy, a self-proclaimed "actress/model"; Rowlf, the singing and 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 (Charles Durning), 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 family film.
Followed by The Great Muppet Caper. Not to be confused with its 2011 sequel/reboot The Muppets.
"Tropin' right along...":
- Accidental Misnaming: When Kermit and Fozzie arrive at Mad Man Mooney's used car dealership:Mooney: Jack, get rid of this heap. Come out here!
Sweetums: What? What?
Mooney: That's my Jack.
Kermit: Oh, hi, Jack!
Sweetums: Jack not name! Jack job!
- Action Girl: Miss Piggy.
- Actor Allusion: One for Mel Brooks: he has his profession written on the back of his suit, which he's done in many of his films before (Blazing Saddles) and since.
- Affectionate Parody: The El Sleezo and its clientele are a mashup of various movie bars, from a classic Western-style saloonnote to Rick's Cafe from Casablanca.note
- The Alleged Car: The car that Kermit and the others traded the Studebaker for at Mad Man Mooney's dealership. While it looks like it works fine at first, it shows its true colors as a lemon when it conks out in the middle of the desert, leading Fozzie to wish he still had the Studebaker.
- Aside Comment: A few.
Kermit: (to camera) Good grief, it's a Running Gag.
- After being asked, "Have you tried Hare Krishna?" (again):
Kermit: (to camera) I, uh, hope you appreciate that I'm doing all my own stunts.
- After being flung into the El Sleezo's ceiling fan, which sends him crashing into the innards of the bar's piano:
- 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: No, motorcycle cop is chasing us!
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: 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 that Henson plays Kermit, too.
- Badass in Distress: Double Subverted with Miss Piggy, who seems to choose to be a Damsel in Distress for Rule of Drama, waiting for Kermit to save her. If he can't, well, she'll just save herself and him.
- Bad-Guy Bar: The El Sleezo Cafe is too tough a place even for its owner!
- Bait-and-Switch: Kermit runs into a patron who's just been tossed from the El Sleazo Cafe, played by famed tough guy James Coburn. When Coburn complains about the El Sleazo being the "meanest, filthiest pest hole on the face of the Earth," the frog suggests he complain to the owner... and Coburn remarks "I AM the owner."
- Balloonacy: Happens to Gonzo at one point: At the fair, he's convinced to buy a bunch of balloons to impress Camilla, which promptly lift him into the air and away. The other Muppets have to pursue him by car, even as he loves the experience of flying. "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday", his solo number during their breakdown in the desert later, is partially him reflecting on it.
- 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 ten 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 think of it.
- 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."
- Between My Legs: Seen during the showdown.
- Beware the Nice Ones: In the final showdown with Hopper, Kermit loses his temper and angrily shouts, "Hopper, what's the matter with you?!" He's honestly furious at Hopper's stubbornness. He calms down a bit, but still gives Hopper a blunt "Reason You Suck" Speech that would have turned anyone with any decency. Unfortunately, Hopper is not that kind of person.
- Big Damn Heroes: Related to Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever above, thus making this a literal example — because Animal's gigantic growth happens just as Doc is about to have his goons mow down Kermit and company, it allows him to scare off the villains once and for all.
- Big Finale Crowd Song: The film ends with a Triumphant Reprise of "The Rainbow Connection", after the Muppets finally make it to Hollywood and achieve their dreams of stardom and are making their movie.
- Big Word Shout: Animal when he helps Bunsen test the sound equipment:Bunsen: Okay, sound is ready, give me a level.Animal: TES-TING!!(Cue smoke coming out of Bunsen's ears.)
- Blues: Rowlf plays a mean piano, and can see Kermit's pain quite easily.Rowlf: It's not often you see a guy that green have the blues that bad. Hmmm...
- 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.
- "Myth" the El Sleazo patron re-appearing at a random spot on the road after Kermit says her name again.
- Butter Face: The El Sleezo dancing girls, according to Fozzie, are even uglier than the crowd:Kermit: It's too bad the dancing girls are on vacation; this crowd's getting ugly.
Fozzie: Huh. If you think this crowd's ugly, you should see the dancing girls.
- Callback: The scene where Kermit over-enunciates "Al-li-ga-tors" 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.
- Casual Car Giveaway: The Studebaker gets traded in with relative ease.
- Catchphrase: Fozzie punctuates all of his jokes with "wocka wocka" during his comedy routine. This was actually created for the movie, since they'd never really needed to write an extended Fozzie standup scene on The Muppet Show, and Frank Oz thought Fozzie would be using some corny Vaudeville shtick in his act like a silly repeated phrase. While it only appeared once on the show, later productions solidified "wocka wocka" as one of his signature traits.
- Celebrity 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."
- Steve Martin is a cranky waiter serving wine.
- Elliott 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". ("Yeth?")
- 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 James Coburn is the owner.
- Bob Hope sells ice cream cones.
- Cloris Leachman is secretary to Orson Welles as the Hollywood mogul who gives the Muppets the "Standard Rich & Famous Contract".
- Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy appear as themselves judging a county fair beauty pageant. Ta-da!note
- Paul Williams is the pianist at the El Sleezo Cafe.
- Chekhov's Gun: Who knew The Electric Mayhem would have kept that copy of the screenplay?
- Also, Bunsen's insta-grow pills.
- The colorful psychedelic paint job that the Electric Mayhem applies to Fozzie's Studebaker comes in handy a scene later when he pulls in front of a soda billboard that perfectly conceals the Studebaker from Doc Hopper.
- Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Fozzie's newly painted car in front of a billboard.
- Comical Angry Face: As noted above, Piggy launches into a wild-eyed Unstoppable Rage when the villains make the mistake of simultaneously pushing two of her Beserk Buttons.
- Comically Missing the Point: After Doc Hopper shows Kermit his "Frogs Legs" commercial (where Hopper is playing the frog):Kermit: That is terrible! That's the most appalling, revolting, disgusting thing I've ever seen!
Doc Hopper: I know, I'm a great businessman and a sweet fella, but I do lack the skills of a performer.
- Comically Small Bribe: Doc Hopper initially tries to get Kermit to perform in his ads by telling him he could earn $500 "every year."note Fozzie is tempted.
- Contrived Coincidence: The gang stumbles upon Miss Piggy hitchhiking in the desert.Miss Piggy: What an unbelievable coincidence!
- Justified when Dr. Teeth rescues Kermit. After all, he had the screenplay to help him.
- Cool Car: Fozzie's 1951 Studebaker, which is now in the Studebaker National Museum collection.Fozzie: Ah. A bear in his natural habitat. A Studebaker.
- Also the 1946 Ford "woodie" station wagon that they buy from Mad Man Mooney.
- Doc Hopper's 1959 Cadillac.
- 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.
- Crossover Cameo: The final shot features many of the puppets used in Henson's previous projects.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Miss Piggy, though she's really a moron only around Kermit.
- Darkest Hour: Literally, when Kermit and company are stranded in the desert at night.
- Dark Is Evil: Snake Walker wears all black.
- Dead Serious: Snake Walker, the frog killer.
- 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.
- Deconstructed Trope: Kermit gives Hopper a fairly stinging "Reason You Suck" Speech, then tries to appeal to Doc's better nature to convince him to give up his pursuit, calling Hopper's bluff. Unfortunately, Hopper is not bluffing; Kermit misjudged him. There are truly awful human beings in the world, who don't give a damn who they hurt to get what they want, and Hopper is one of them; he demonstrates this by quietly saying, "All right, boys... kill him." If Animal hadn't taken the growth pill and given Doc and his lackeys the scare of their lives, Doc's men would have killed Kermit in cold blood.
- Delusions of Eloquence: Dr. Teeth, when the Electric Mayhem is thinking of a way to help out Kermit and Fozzie:Dr. Teeth: [reading the script] This is a narrative of very heavy duty proportions.
Floyd: Yeah, cosmic, man! We gotta keep his little froggy self away from this Hopper dude.
Dr. Teeth: [seeing Kermit and Fozzie asleep] Too true. Too true. It is indeed a problem for us to probosculate upon. But it seems to me the frog and the bear are temporarily out of service.
- Determinator: Doc Hopper, who travels nearly 3,000 miles to get Kermit to be his "spokesfrog." Nothing will stop him from getting what he wants, to the point where he's ready to gun Kermit down rather than let him walk away.
- Deus ex Machina: Invoked, since the film regularly breaks the Fourth Wall, and Kermit did give Dr. Teeth the screenplay.
- Didn't Think This Through:
- Doc Hopper adamantly refuses to acknowledge the fact that he's essentially trying to force Kermit to endorse the slaughter of his own kind for his fast food brand, calling it "millions of frogs on tiny crutches". While Max begins to sour on the scheme after hearing this, Hopper remains obsessive in his efforts to strongarm Kermit into being his unwilling mascot.
- The Electric Mayhem's plan to disguise the Studebaker so Doc Hopper wouldn't recognize Kermit and Fozzie seemed clever on paper, unfortunately as later shown, a frog and a bear in a Studebaker of any color still stick out.
- Directionless Driver: Fozzie's route from Louisiana to California goes through Rhode Island and Saskatchewan.
- Double-Meaning Title: "Movin' Right Along" is a title that invokes both a song about traveling and the line a comedian would say after a joke bombs. The screenplay draft written before the songs were composed even specified that the song should have this title and reflect both meanings.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Fozzie has rotten luck with his audience:Fozzie: There was this sailor who was so fat...
Fat Sailor: How fat was he?! (smashes bottle on table}
Fozzie: Um, he was so fat... that everybody liked him, and there was nothing funny about him at all.
- Dumb and Drummer: Animal is the drummer for the Electric Mayhem, and not too bright. Dr. Teeth has to remind him to beat his drum set, not eat it.
- Easily Forgiven: Zigzagged. While Kermit is somewhat quick to forgive Piggy (and so is Rowlf, who has heard of her, but hadn't actually met her), Fozzie and Gonzo are still very angry with her for ditching Kermit as soon as her agent called earlier in the film. They do forgive her eventually, though. Kermit is initially dismissive of her ("Frankly, Miss Piggy, I don't give a hoot!")
- Establishing Character Moment: Max is first seen supervising the construction of one of his boss's restaurants, but getting distracted and delighted by the sight of Kermit riding a bicycle, and relieved when he manages to escape being run over — which is a tip-off to his turning out to be a Minion with an F in Evil who likes Kermit too much to see him harmed over Hopper's plans.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Sweetums is only known in the film as "Jack". At the very end, Kermit does exclaim "Sweetums, you made it!" when he bursts through the screen."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.
- Every Man Has His Price: Max tries standing up to Hopper after the encounter at the billboard after "Movin' Right Along", but after Doc Hopper offers to double Max's percentage, he drops this. For a while, anyway.
- Everyone Has Standards: Max was already a Minion with an F in Evil, and is visibly shaken by the imagine of millions of frogs with tiny crutches. Late in the film, he finally has a Heel–Face Turn.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows: "The Rainbow Connection," of course. It even provides the page quote.
- Evil Is Petty: Hopper initially wants Kermit to be his spokesman. When it becomes clear to him that Kermit has no intention of doing so, Hopper instead decides to find and kill him solely to deny his talent to anyone else. When Kermit tells him off during their final standoff, he is only further angered and tries to kill all of the Muppets just for helping Kermit evade him.
- Exact Words: Milton Berle's sleazy car salesman Mad Man Mooney promises that "the price on the sticker is the price you pay." Sweetums proceeds to swat a fly near one of the stickers, turning "$1,195" into "$11.95" thanks to the new decimal point. The Muppets hold him to the deal and drive away with him paying them money (they had a $12.00 trade-in for the Studebaker).
- When disguised as the El Sleazo bartender, Fozzie declares "Drinks on the house!" to distract the crowd. A Literal-Minded bunch, they all rush to the roof, looking for the drinks that are on the house.
- Face Palm: Sam the Eagle's reaction to the film at the end, telling Scooter it was Sick and Wrong.
- Fanservice Extra: A fairly tame one, given that it's a family film, but the county fair where we meet Miss Piggy does feature a number of attractive models in one-piece swimsuits.
- Fascinating Eyebrow: Lew Lord (Orson Welles) gives one when Kermit says he and his friends had come to become rich and famous.
- Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Doc Hopper, since he's sort of an evil Captain Ersatz of Colonel Sanders.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: Animal surreptitiously grabbing the entirety of Bunsen's miracle grow pills goes from Funny Background Event to The Cavalry.
- Follow That Car: In this film, 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: During an inadvertent intermission of the film, Kermit assures Animal that his "big" scene was coming up.
- In a series-wide example, the movie repeatedly hints at Gonzo's alien origins, which would not be revealed explicitly until 20 years later in Muppets from Space.
- Forgetful Jones: Zoot briefly forgets his name when the Electric Mayhem are introducing themselves:Zoot: I'm, uh, uhh...
Floyd: Zoot, sax is your axe. Uh-oh, Zoot skipped a groove again.
- For Happiness: Kermit left the swamp for Hollywood because the agent told him he could make millions of people happy.
- 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.
- "Hüërnder hïndër flïp-flïp-flïp-flïp-flïp!"
- Fortunately, "dër flïm ïs økïë-døkïë".
- Genre Savvy: Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem certainly fill the bill.Janice: Oh man, what can we do?
Floyd: Well, if this were the movies...
Dr. Teeth: Which it is!
Floyd: ...We'd think of a clever Plot Device!
Scooter: Like disguising their car so they won't be recognized!
Dr. Teeth: Right! Two, three, four...
- Girlish Pigtails: Miss Piggy wears some for part of the movie. Get it?
- Ghost Town: Where they find Bunsen and Beaker, and from there have their final confrontation with Doc Hopper.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Downplayed with Kermit, when he sits down at the campfire and has a conversation with his conscience:Kermit: I didn't promise anybody anything. What do I know about Hollywood, anyway? Just a dream I got from sitting through too many double features.
Kermit's conscience: So why did you leave the swamp in the first place?
Kermit: 'Cause some agent fella said I had talent. He probably says that to everybody.
Conscience: On the other hand, if you hadn't left the swamp, you'd be feeling pretty miserable anyhow.
Kermit: Yeah. But then it would just be me feeling miserable. Now I got a lady pig, and a bear, and a chicken, a dog, a thing, whatever Gonzo is. He's a little like a turkey.
Conscience: Mmm - yeah. A little like a turkey, but not much.
Kermit: No, I guess not. Anyhow, I brought them all out here to the middle of nowhere, and it's all my fault.
Conscience: Still, whether you promised them something or not, you gotta remember - they wanted to come.
Kermit: But... that's because they believed in me.
Conscience: No, they believed in the dream.
Kermit: Well, so do I, but...
Conscience: You do?
Kermit: Yeah! Of course I do.
Conscience: Well then?
Kermit: Well then... I guess I was wrong when I said I never promised anyone. I promised me.
- 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.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: The Frog Killer's outfit, though to an adult, he's seriously Head-Tiltingly Kinky, just a gimp mask away from being a BDSM submissive.
- Hero of Another Story: Big Bird is heading to New York to make it into television. Three guesses which show he ends up on.
- Herr Doktor: Prof. Krassman. Definitely of the Mad Scientist variety.
- Hidden Depths: Gonzo just seems like goofy comic relief until he sings "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday", a very soft and wistful song about looking up at the night sky and feeling a pull to something he doesn't have a name for, wondering if he'll find the place where he belongs.
- 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.
- Hulk Speak: "Jack not name. Jack job!"
- It Will Never Catch On: When Kermit and Fozzie encounter Big Bird, he tells them that he's on his way to New York City to try and break into public television. Kermit and Fozzie exchange weary looks, and the latter wishes Big Bird good luck.
- "I Want" Song: "The Rainbow Connection", also something of an ear worm. Kermit sings about finding "the rainbow connection," which is "someplace that I'm supposed to be"—following his dreams.
- Also "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday," Gonzo's song about wanting to find the place he belongs.
- If I Can't Have You…: Doc decides that if he can't have Kermit as a spokesperson, he will have him killed.
- It's All About Me: This is what separates Doc Hopper from Kermit and the gang. Whereas the Muppets are going to Hollywood in a quest to make others happy, Doc's only interested in one person's happiness—his own. Kermit calls him out on this in the end, and Hopper even realizes that his selfishness will ultimately drive everyone away...but he still orders his cronies to kill the frog.
- It's All My Fault: Kermit when his group is stranded in the desert.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk:Kermit: I don't think you're a bad man, Doc, and I think if you look in your heart, you'll find you really want to let me and my friends go - to follow our dream. But... if that's not the kinda man you are, and if what I'm saying doesn't make any sense to you... well then... go ahead and kill me.Doc Hopper: [takes off hat, ponders in silence, sighs reluctantly] All right, boys... Kill 'im.
- Just a Stupid Accent: Seriously, what do you expect in a movie when Mel Brooks shows up? In fact, when 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.
- Kirk's Rock: Doc Hopper's goons take target practice, and Doc Hopper meets the Frog Killer, in front of the iconic Vazquez Rocks formation.
- 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.
- Knight of Cerebus: Doc Hopper might seem like a rather ineffectual villain, but he's one of the most vile and despicable characters in the entire franchise. He will stop at nothing to get Kermit as a mascot for his commercials, his methods ranging from manipulation to brainwashing to outright murder. And he almost kills Kermit and his friends in the climax, with only the timely intervention of an Insta-Gro Animal saving the Muppets from death.
- 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!
- Laugh with Me!: Inverted. Prof. Krassman laughs maniacally about what his machine will do to Kermit, but when Doc joins in too long, he cuts him short.Prof. Krassman: I detest the surfeit of provincial laughter.
- Left the Background Music On: The film opens on an overhead shot of Kermit's swamp home, and we hear Kermit singing "The Rainbow Connection". As it zooms in on the swamp, we see Kermit and find he's been playing the music in-scene.
- 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. ("All I can see are millions of frogs with tiny crutches.") However, Hopper doesn't realize (or just doesn't care) how appalling it is for Kermit, and won't take no for an answer.
- Literal Metaphor: A Running Gag in this film. Fork in the road, start with a bang, drinks on the house, Gonzo jumping up and down because he's "hopping mad"... the list goes on."I hear this movie is dynamite."BOOM
- Loophole Abuse: Mad Man Mooney tells the Muppets that the prices listed on the stickers of his cars are final and cannot be haggled. When Sweetums swats a fly against one of the stickers, the "splat" ends up as a decimal point, turning a $1195 price tag into one reading $11.95. When Kermit asks for the car, Mad Man Mooney is unable to come up with a counter argument and begrudgingly honors the price.
- Love at First Sight: When Miss Piggy meets Kermit (and even follows it up with a romantic montage!). Kermit seems quite taken with her as well (at least, at first).Piggy (singing): "Never before! And never again!..."
- Lyrical Dissonance: Par for the course of any Henson production (though he didn't write the song), "Rainbow Connection" is a surprisingly bitter song about chasing one's dreams, and all the better as a result.Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far
What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing
And what do they think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me
- The Man in the Mirror Talks Back:
- During "The Rainbow Connection", Kermit appears to be singing along with his reflection.
- When the gang gets stranded in the desert, Kermit's inner self literally appears to help him with a moral crisis.
- Medium Awareness: When the Electric Mayhem are trying to find a way to help Kermit and Fozzie. See Genre Savvy.
- 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.
- Mighty Roar: Having grown to giant size, Animal lets out one of these, frightening off Hopper and his goons for good.
- 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.
- Minor Major Character: Orson Welles as Lew Lord; after arriving in Hollywood, and finally getting to meet him, he has just one line of dialogue in his brief appearance:Lew Lord: Miss Tracy... Prepare the standard 'Rich and Famous' contract for Kermit the Frog and Company.
- Misplaced a Decimal Point: Kermit tries to buy a car at a rather disreputable dealership, but can't afford any of them, until Sweetums swats a fly, which creates a decimal point in a price tag; the dealer finds himself selling a $1195 car for $11.95, after paying a $12 trade-in on the Muppets' old lemon.
- Motive Decay: Doc Hopper starts off as a Corrupt Corporate Executive who wants Kermit to help him sell frog legs. However, when that fails, he moves to trying to have Kermit assassinated, seemingly just For the Evulz.
- Near-Villain Victory: Doc Hopper almost succeeds in having Kermit killed — until a giant Animal intervenes at the last second.
- Never Say "Die": Averted, thankfully.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lew Lord (Orson Welles) is Lew Grade, who gave Henson his big break and shepherded his career (and actually was a Lord).
- 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 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: "I have lost my sense of direction!" "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, Piggy pictures herself doing this with Kermit; this is also depicted in one version of the 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: The film describes how the Muppets got together, or at least "sort of approximately how it happened."
- Overly Narrow Superlative: "Sparkling Muscatel, one of the finest wines of Idaho."note
- "Pan from the Sky" Beginning: "The Rainbow Connection" starts in this manner.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: After Fozzie is thrown behind the counter at the El Sleazo Cafe and inadvertently takes out the bartender, he pops back up wearing a fake beard, declaring "Drinks on the house!" as a diversion. This works despite all of the patrons seeing Fozzie on stage a minute earlier.
- The Electric Mayhem's psychedelic paint job on the Studebaker also qualifies. The car is admittedly unrecognizable, but it's still the same model being driven by the quite-notable Kermit and Fozzie, and the rainbow paint-job just makes the car stick out even more than it would've.Doc Hopper: Max, find me a frog and a bear in a tan Studebaker!Max: Gee, Doc, all I can see is a frog and a bear in a rainbow-colored Studebaker.Doc Hopper: What?!
- The Electric Mayhem's psychedelic paint job on the Studebaker also qualifies. The car is admittedly unrecognizable, but it's still the same model being driven by the quite-notable Kermit and Fozzie, and the rainbow paint-job just makes the car stick out even more than it would've.
- 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.
- One for the parents who like classical music is given by Rowlf just before singing "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" with Kermit. He briefly shows off his amazing skills on the piano and then quips:Rowlf: I'm no Heifetz, but I get by.
- 6 years later, world famous pianist Vladimir Horowitz would say something similar during the recording of The Last Romantic. After his fingers slip while he's playing at home, he wryly states: "I am Horowitz, not Heifetz!"
- 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 (or at least, can only play well enough to come up with melodies), so 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.)
- The Power of Friendship: During the climax, Kermit notes the main difference between him and Hopper. He had a dream of stardom, but he shared it with others who had the same aspirations, and became lifelong friends. The mercenaries Hopper hired? They're not his friends. Even Max shakes his head "no" when Hopper insists he has one in him.
- Professional Killer: Snake Walker, a professional frog killer Doc hires to get rid of Kermit.
- Punny Name: Prof. Krassman. Appropriately, a crass comment he makes to 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.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kermit unloads one on Hopper after running from him the whole film, telling him that his obsession and callousness will cost him everything and everyone he loves, and that no fast food restaurant could possibly be worth all he's done. Unfortunately, Hopper ignores it.
- Redemption Rejection: Hopper appears affected by Kermit's Patrick Stewart Speech, only to then order his men to kill him. 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 Trip Plot: Kermit's journey from the Florida swamps to Hollywood, picking up all the other Muppets and having interesting adventures on the way.
- 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 Hare Krishna?" (See Running Gag below.)
- Running Gag: "Have you tried Hare Krishna?," lampshaded by Kermit. Also, the "Myth! Myth!" thing.note
- 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.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Hopper and his goons are scared off for good by a giant Animal roaring at them. Max leaves with them, too, but not before wishing the Muppets good luck.
- "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 insolent waiter. (Really, that's his credited role: "Insolent Waiter".)Kermit: Uh, you may serve us now, please.Insolent Waiter: Oh, may I? (backs away, bowing) Thank you! Thank you!
- The '70s: The hairstyles and some fashions give it away occasionally (as well as the Running Gag about Hare Krishnas), but otherwise the film does a great job of keeping itself timeless.
- Shackle Seat Trap: The restraints on Krassman's brain-scrambling device close automatically around Kermit's wrists and ankles.
- Kermit to Piggy: "Frankly, Miss Piggy, I don't give a hoot."note Doubles as a reference to Woodsy Owl.note
- "Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?"
- Then, later, "Who said that every wish would be heard and answered when wished on the morning star?" (which makes Disney's purchase of the Muppets in 2004 all the more hilarious)
- Small Role, Big Impact: Dom De Luise only gets a small cameo at the beginning of the film, but his suggestion that Kermit go to Hollywood sets the whole plot in motion.
- Stalker Without a Crush: Doc Hopper follows Fozzie and Kermit across several states trying to get Kermit to become his mascot for his frog-based restaurant.
- The Stinger:
- Credited with being the first modern example in film.Animal: GO HOME! GO HOME! Bye-bye.
- The official soundtrack album had one too.Swedish Chef: Dër flïm ïs økïë-døkïë!
- Credited with being the first modern example in film.
- 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.Fozzie: Ay-yecch-a.Bob Hope: Don't get them mixed up.
- Stylistic Suck: Doc's television commercial. Kermit thinks it's horrible, but for different reasons.
- Suddenly Shouting: After remaining largely calm throughout the whole film, Kermit finally reaches his breaking point when he faces down Doc Hopper in the ghost town: "HOPPER, WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU? You’ve gotta be crazy chasing me halfway across the country! Why are you doing this to me?!"
- 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.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Krassman is strongly implied to be one.
- Tired of Running: Near the end, Kermit decides to confront Hopper cause he doesn't want to "spend the rest of [his] life running from a bully".
- Tough Room: Fozzie faces a hostile audience - literally - at the El Sleazo, and Kermit's attempt to help him makes it worse.
- Trash the Set: Seemingly at the end of the film... but then the rainbow appears. Leading to our...
- Triumphant Reprise: The reprise of "The Rainbow Connection" at the end of the film after the Muppets have achieved their dreams and are making their movie."We've done just what we've set out to do/Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you."
- Unconventional Food Order: At the fair, Fozzie orders a cone of honey ice-cream for him and a cone of dragonfly ripple for Kermit. Amazingly, the ice-cream vendor has both.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Summed up by a note at the beginning of an early draft of the screenplay.Although a bear driving a car and a frog trying to order a drink in a bar are not ordinary sights in our world, they are in this film. None of the human beings in The Muppet Movie are ever the least bit surprised to find themselves talking to frogs and dogs and pigs and chickens.
- Unstoppable Rage:
- "THAT DOES IT!!"
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Within the film itself; see the page quote. Despite apparently taking some liberties in-universe, most subsequent productions (the next two films and Muppet Babies aside) treat it as the Muppets’ canonical origin story.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Doc Hopper, a greedy restaurateur who wants Kermit to be the new spokesperson for his struggling chain of frog leg restaurants. After Kermit refuses his offers, Hopper relentlessly pursues him for nearly the whole trip, resorting to increasingly vicious means such as holding Piggy for ransom, hiring a Mad Scientist to have him brainwashed, and finally hiring assassins to hunt him down and kill him. Even as Kermit gives a heartfelt speech to try and reason with him, Hopper is unmoved and still orders him killed.
- Villain in a White Suit: Doc Hopper, who's most commonly clad in an old-fashioned, white pinstriped suit. He's a greedy corporate executive/restaurant owner who's out to force Kermit to be his spokesman by any means necessary, but relies on his minons, especially his Beleaguered Assistant Max, to do everything for him, including drive him around.
- 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!
- Wham Line: "Miss Tracy, prepare the standard 'rich and famous' contract for Kermit the Frog and company."
- Also Doc's line, spoken quietly and calmly: "All right, boys... kill him." Doc has no redeeming qualities, and if he had any before they are long gone.
- What's a Henway?: "Gonzo! What are you doing?" "About seven knots!"
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Charles Durning gives Doc Hopper a vaguely Cajun accent that varies widely throughout the movie.
- Who Is Driving?: Neither Kermit nor Fozzie, it seems.
- What You Are in the Dark: Max comes to warn Kermit and his friends that Hopper has hired a frog assassin to kill Kermit if he refuses to be a mascot, when he didn't have to do such a thing. He's horrified when Kermit agrees to meet Hopper anyway in the hopes of reasoning with the man.
- 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.Kermit: (singing) Hey LA, where've you gone?
Fozzie: (singing) Send someone to fetch us, we're in Saskatchewan!
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Kermit attempts this on Doc Hopper.
- Shut Up, Kirk!: "Kill him."
- 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.
Keep believing, keep pretending
We did just what we set out to do
Thanks to the lovers...