Before I really start I’m going to ‘fess up. It’s very hard for me to write a non-biased review of this film. I enjoy it far more than I really should. For some reason a part of me just adores this movie. I think it’s probably because it’s this film that made me fall in love with Peppe and rediscover The Muppets.
So, let’s talk about the plot. What we have here is, in essence, Frank Capras ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. The Muppet theatre is in trouble as the bank is set to foreclose midnight on December the 24th. That’s right, Christmas Eve! (As the villain says, it’s funny how one day can mean so many things.) Despite working their socks off, pulling together and being one big family, the Muppets fail, due mainly to Ms. Bitterman (Joan Cusack) altering the contract. Despairing Kermit leaves, regretting he ever met the Muppets and wishing he had never been born. And so the angel Daniel from accounting (David Arquette) shows Kermit what the world would be like without him. And yes, in the end it’s all ok.
With a surprisingly mature piece of storytelling involving a non cronoligical story arc and multiple realities this is a far more ambitious story than many made for TV movies. And it works, holding together well in a way that doesn’t confuse. And the references just come thick and fast. Obviously there is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, but we also see ‘Moulin Rough’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘The Grinch’, and ‘A Christmas Story’ as well as various references to other holiday specials. It also nicely references past Muppet movies, one great scene showing a branch of Doc Hoppers that Kermit had never been around to stop becoming so popular.
Though this film does have cameos it relies on them far less than some other Muppet features, instead letting the fun plot and fantastic Muppet performers entertain. Which is all to the good if you ask me.
Unlike many Muppet Movies this one isn’t really a musical. It has a couple of numbers in, one during the Moulin Scrooge scene and one sung by Kermit and Gonzo. This second song, “Wonderful Christmas”, is actually pretty good, and I feel that it’s slightly underused here. Were this a bigger budget general release I believe that this song would have become something special. Never mind.
So, in summery I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable movie, showing the potential the Muppets still had to amuse and entertain. It’s only a pity it took almost ten more years before they were finally given the money to make a proper film.
Year of Release: 2002
Country of Origin: US
Running Time: 85 min
Aditional Information: Made for TV
Director: Kirk R. Thatcher
Producesr: Warren Carr, Martin G. Baker
Screenplay: Tom Martin, Jim Lewis
Photography: Tony Westman
Music: Mark Watters
Cast: The Muppets, David Arquette, Joan Cusack, Matthew Lillard, Whoopi Goldberg
Tomorrow I'm going to talk about Muppet Christmas Carol. The day after Deck the Halls and then another Christmas Carol addaption, probably the George C Scott one.