The Muppets are about to be everywhere again. In November, Kermit, Miss Piggy, and their fuzzy menagerie of felt-covered friends will return to the silver screen after a decade in the pop culture wilderness, thanks to Forgetting Sarah Marshall star (and longtime Jim Henson fanatic) Jason Segel. Will a new generation of tech-savvy tykes weaned on Buzz Lightyear and Shrek follow them? Well, if Segel’s able to tap into what made The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984, G, 1 hr., 34 mins.) so magical and avoid what made Muppets From Space (1999, G, 1 hr., 28 mins.) so dreadful, there’s no reason Fozzie Bear can’t return to the A list. I single out these two films because both are now out on Blu-ray. But they also offer some tips that might just help extend the franchise. In Manhattan, playwright Kermit and his manic troupe of pint-size puppets head to the Big Apple to turn his latest musical into a boffo Broadway smash. There they encounter a shady producer (Dabney Coleman) and sleep in bus-station lockers, and poor Miss Piggy gets mugged. If this sounds more Midnight Cowboy than kiddie flick, don’t worry; the gang’s plucky, let’s-put-on-a-show spirit keeps things fizzy and light. Cameos by Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli don’t hurt either. Space, on the other hand, makes the mistake of shifting the focus from everybody’s favorite pig/ frog couple to Gonzo, who it turns out is descended from space aliens, leading to a close encounter no one asked for. Andie MacDowell, Hulk Hogan, Katie Holmes, and Kathy Griffin all turn up. But like the rest of the movie, they all seem…lost in space. Manhattan: B+ Space: C?
NEXT FRONTIER Fozzie Bear, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Rizzo the Rat, Gonzo, Animal in Muppets From Space (Everett Collection)
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Comedy; Starring: Katie Holmes; Status: In Season; MPAA Rating: G
Posted August 9 2011 — 12:00 AM EDT
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