MORE ENTERTAINING THAN HUMANLY POSSIBLE.
Kermit, a frog in a Florida swamp, is persuaded by a Hollywood agent to go west and pursue a showbiz career; along the way, he meets friends and finds a dangerous enemy. The beloved felt creatures from The Muppet Show (1976-1981) delivered their first movie, a funny, chaotic meta experience that mirrors their creator Jim Henson’s own journey. Packed with amusing star cameos, the film impressively takes the Muppets out of their theater into the world on a grand scale; much was made of the fact that we get to see their feet. Uneven, but introduces us to individual Muppets in disarming, clever ways. And “Rainbow Connection” is unforgettable.
1979-U.S. 94 min. Color. Produced by Jim Henson. Directed by James Frawley. Screenplay: Jack Burns, Jerry Juhl. Music: Paul Williams. Song: “Rainbow Connection” (Paul Williams, Kenny Ascher). Cast: Charles Durning (Doc Hopper), Austin Pendleton (Max). Muppet Performers: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz. Cameos: Edgar Bergen, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, James Coburn, Dom DeLuise, Elliott Gould, Madeline Kahn, Bob Hope, Carol Kane, Cloris Leachman, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Telly Savalas, Orson Welles, Paul Williams.
Trivia: John Landis and Tim Burton were among the many puppeteers. Followed by five sequels (starting with The Great Muppet Caper (1981)) and several TV specials. The franchise was rebooted as The Muppets (2011).
Last word: “Jim Henson had seen ‘The Monkees’ and liked my work on that, and seen some other television that I had done. He knew that I had been an actor, and thought that I was the right combination for the Muppets. He flew me to London where they made ‘The Muppet Show’. We met, and we had an immediate connection… Up until that time they had never shot film. They had only shot tape, and they had never shot outside the studio. So [Henson] knew that he needed somebody who was a filmmaker and knew what to do with the camera. And he felt pretty good about my sense of humor. It seemed like a good combinations of talents for his Muppets. I had a very childlike approach to my work, and the Muppets fit in well with that.” (Frawley, The Poop)