by Aaron Peck
While my fondest Muppet memories come from the 120 glorious episodes of 'The Muppet Show,' their big screen movies have provided more than enough laughs over the years as well. Until now, I've never sat back and thought about where I would rank the individual Muppet films, but with 'The Muppets' coming out on Blu-ray this week, I thought I'd do that very thing.
As with all lists, this one is completely my opinion. I must confess that I really do love the Muppets. I've been a fan of Kermit and the gang since I was a tadpole. I grew up watching the movies and the television show. The early big screen incarnations seemed to follow along with general Muppet mayhem, like 'The Muppet Movie' and 'The Muppets Take Manhattan,' but later on the movies took on a different context, where the beloved characters were inserted into well-known stories like 'The Muppets Christmas Carol' and 'Muppet Treasure Island'. With these differences came varying degrees of success both in terms of box office and humor.
We're going to consider each film and see which ones were great and which ones were only so-so. So, on with the show!
7. 'Muppets From Space'
One of the biggest cons of 'Muppets From Space' is its non-musical status. The Muppets are known for catchy tunes and throughout their filmography they'd played that up perfectly. It's almost like they consciously went away from the musical side of things to appeal to a younger generation of kids who didn't like musicals. That and they tacked on a simplistic plot about Gonzo's true origin as an alien. There are still a few laughs in this movie, but out of the franchise it really is the most forgettable one of the bunch.
6. 'The Muppets Take Manhattan'
Don't get me wrong. I like 'The Muppets Take Manhattan' (I just like the other films ahead of it more). I gave it three and a half stars when I reviewed it for the site. It's a perfectly serviceable Muppet movie. I even dig the "Let's get everyone back together and take over Broadway," shtick. What really brings this movie to a screeching halt is Kermit suddenly developing amnesia. That plot device really kills much of the movie's momentum.
5. 'Muppet Treasure Island'
Like I said above, sometimes Muppet movies consist of original Muppet tales of the whole group, and sometimes we simply get a parody of a story we already know. This time the Muppets take on Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island'. Tim Curry as Long John Silver is one of the high points of this movie. Not to mention the catchy "Cabin Fever" tune, and more than enough Pepe the Prawn to go around.
4. 'The Muppet Movie'
It was the pioneer of the bunch. Branching out from the TV show, Jim Henson and his immensely talented team of puppeteers set out to make a full-length feature. It's a very strong feature indeed, but it isn't without its flaws. Because it was the first film, Henson and company were still trying to work out the kinks, and because of that the pace of the movie was a tad herky-jerky when it was intercut with the movie's songs. Although, there are some great tunes here; "Movin' Right Along" will always be one of my all-time favorite Muppet songs.
3. 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'
This parody is full of the Christmas spirit. It's true that they set out to make a funny version of Charles Dickens' classic story. In the end they created something that had laughs, but still embodied the meaning of the original story. Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge is the perfect casting choice. This is a must-watch every time Christmas rolls around.
2. 'The Great Muppet Caper'
It had been only two years since 'The Muppet Movie' but you could already tell that they'd figured out what they were doing. 'The Great Muppet Caper' contains some great puppeteering for anyone interested in the art form. Just take a look at Miss Piggy's underwater sequence to see what type of stuff Jim Henson was coming up with back in the 80s. On top of the masterful puppeteering at work, 'The Great Muppet Caper' features a strong, tight plot along with some great cameos from the likes of John Cleese, Peter Falk, and Robert Morley. I also really liked Charles Grodin in his leading role. Very funny.
1. 'The Muppets'
This is coming from a dyed-in-the-felt Muppets fan, but yes, I think the newest Muppet movie is actually the best one yet. That may be heresy to some, but I feel confident in my ranking. I always felt that the strongest Muppet moments always came from their TV show anyway. The TV show was the essence of the franchise, and this movie pays perfect tribute to that bygone show. I understand that there was some trouble behind the scenes, which hasn't been fully revealed, but I still thought this was one of the greatest Muppet movies because it complemented one of the best TV shows so impeccably.
So, now the question is, how would you rank the Muppet movies? Disagree with my rankings? Well, let us know in the forums where you can let us know just how you'd rank the filmography of the world's most famous puppets.
When all is said and done, I think we've all learned one valuable thing from this list. We desperately need more Muppet movies on Blu-ray!!