Ranking the Muppets Movies a.k.a. Choosing Your Favorite Child
Leading up to the release of Muppets Most Wanted I have had the opportunity to reflect on the Muppets films and choose my favorites. This is no small feat for someone like myself who fell in love with movies and television very early, based mostly on the work of Jim Henson. Though I haven’t seen Muppets Most Wanted yet, I have high hopes for the film.
I have been in love with the Muppets from a very early age. Fraggle Rock is still among my all-time favorite childhood fare and John Hurt from the Storyteller series from 1988 was Crypt Keeper version 1.0 for me. I used to love to be scared by the stories and creatures in the fables that were so masterfully created. I enjoyed parts of the Muppet Show growing up here and there, but so much more so today now that I really “get it”. The films that he created, Labrynth, The Dark Crystal and even Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas hold a special place in my heart. The Christmas Toy is the reason I spoke to my toys and loved them so long as I did, believing they came to life when I wasn’t watching. Jim Henson’s death has left a recurring ache in my heart for decades. I was broken-hearted as a child to know he was gone and was certain his magic wouldn’t live on. I felt time and time again as I grew up that the world was missing out on so much that he could have shared, especially as movies turned more and more to CGI for effects and creatures, losing authenticity and heart.
When I started having my own children I was excited for the day I could share my favorite Henson movies with my daughter, but I was also sad that no new creations that would live up to these magical films would be created again. Then something beautiful happened, and someone who loved the muppets, Jim Henson and his amazing world stepped up and created a Muppet movie for a new generation with all the heart, humor and idealism that I remembered from my own childhood. Thanks to Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller, James Bobin and all the wonderful actors that took part in The Muppets, I don’t find that same feeling creeping in as I now share these films with my son, who is completely and totally in love with the Muppets of my youth. I now have a feeling of hope and excitement for the new adventures on which my old friends the Muppets will find themselves.
For this purpose I am only ranking films that were released in theaters. Check it out and let us know your favorite in the comments!
A Few That Didn’t Make the Cut
Muppets from Space
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Muppet Treasure Island
The Great Muppet Caper
What can make the Muppets more interesting than throwing in some mystery? As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a writer in some form or fashion. Being a reporter appealed to me so watching Kermit and Fozzie Bear in that profession was fun for me at an early age. I was enamored with the mystery and intrigue and the foreign element. It was like my own introduction to James Bond a la Kermit. The caliber of starring roles and cameos in this film are killer, but the one I was most excited about as a kid was Oscar the Grouch. I always loved the underdog, Eeyore, Snuffleupagus and of course, Oscar.
#3: The Muppet Movie
I’ll be honest, this was not one of my favorites as a kid, but I adore it now. How could you not love the sick humor in Kermit being chased down as a spokesperson for frog legs? To share another shot of truth, I hated The Rainbow Connection song until very recently. It used to aggravate the hell out of me but now it’s terribly endearing. I guess that’s what nostalgia will do for you. With cameos from some of my favorites, Steve Martin, Carol Cane, Richard Pryor, Mel Brooks, Dom DeLuise and so many more, there isn’t a part of this movie that I don’t love. This film does come with the bittersweet realization that more than half of the people in the film are gone, but just look at what happiness they left behind.
#2: The Muppets
As I stated previously, when The Muppets was released a few years ago, I finally had hope again that Jim Henson’s dream could be brought back to life in a way that did his work justice. Everything was there, the comedy, the love story, the music and of course, the Muppets. The cameos were spot on from Zach Galifianakis‘ Hobo Joe to Jim Parsons as Walter’s human alter ego. This was a film that took me back in a way nothing else made today could ever do. I found myself overcome with emotion over and over again as Walter walked through the dilapidated theater, then as the team cleaned it up and then on to the telethon opening with the old school theme of the Muppet Show and finally when all the effort seemed in vain. The humor was cheesy and obvious, wonderfully refreshing. I just loved this movie and the only reason it isn’t my favorite is because of my intense loyalty to the films of my childhood.