I grew up watching the Muppets and I continue to like them now. I have almost all the Muppet movies on DVD and I have the three seasons of The Muppet Show that are available on DVD. I finally picked up a copy of It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie on DVD in November to add to my collection.
The Muppets were preparing for their Christmas show when Kermit found out that Rachel Bitterman was set to foreclose on the Muppet Theater on Christmas Eve. Everyone was depending on Kermit to make sure the theater was saved and he was feeling very stressed. When things didn't go well, he started feeling like it would have been better if he had never been born. An angel named Daniel tried to help Kermit and ultimately showed him how things would have been different if he hadn't been born.
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie was basically a version of It's a Wonderful Life featuring the Muppets with Kermit taking the place of George. It has been a long time since I last saw It's a Wonderful Life - I got burned out on it years ago when it was on all the time in December - so I don't remember everything. I do remember the basic story dealing with George getting fed up and wishing he'd never been born, which was here in this movie. Since this was just another version of a fairly well known movie, there weren't any surprises with the main story. There were a few little surprises though that I thought worked well. Having Kermit and the different Muppet characters in the parts did help to give a different spin to the story.
When It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie began, things were already bad for Kermit and the Muppets. Kermit was very upset and even depressed about what was happening and he went off alone. At that point, it was shown that an angel named Daniel was watching and very concerned about what he saw. He took it upon himself to go to his boss to try to get help for Kermit. When he met his boss, the events that had led up to getting Kermit in that situation were shown to her, which was sort of like a flashback. After that, Daniel was able to try to help Kermit. He ultimately showed Kermit what things would have been like if he had never been born and things weren't good for the Muppets without him because none of them got the chance to achieve their dreams. Gonzo was reduced to trying to perform in a mall with a brick instead of a chicken. Fozzy was a pickpocket who managed to get Kermit's wallet even though he had no pockets. The Electric Mayhem were performing as some sort of Irish Riverdancing group. The theater was a bad nightclub run by Rachel Bitterman. Beaker was actually the muscled bouncer, Scooter was dancing in a cage, and Statler and Waldorf were sitting around ogling women. Miss Piggy was a telephone psychic and had become a crazy cat lady - or I guess that would be crazy cat pig in her case - with more cats than I could count. It was interesting to see the characters in such different circumstances.
Like all the Muppet movies and shows that I've seen over the years, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie had a decent amount of humor. Some of the humor was kind of silly, which is perfectly normal for something involving the Muppets. It really wasn't as funny as some of the other Muppet things I have seen since the plot was more serious in general, but there was enough humor to keep the mood light and keep the movie from being depressing. There were a few things that turned up that were a bit suggestive which might concern some parents. Nothing was really graphic or offensive, though some might be bothered by Scooter dancing in a cage. There has frequently been some borderline suggestive humor to the different Muppet movies and specials, most of which will just go right over the heads of kids.
Music has always been rather important to different the different Muppet movies, shows and specials. A little bit of their Christmas show, Moulin Scrooge, was shown and that did involve some Christmas songs. It was really interesting how they were combining Moulin Rouge and A Christmas Carol and personally I would have liked to have seen more of that. There was a well done new Christmas song that fit in perfectly with the story and all the characters and the message that the movie was trying to tell. There were some references back to the television show - the theater and Statler and Waldorf in their balcony - as well as a few other little things. There was a Doc Hopper's sign in one scene that people familiar with The Muppet Movie should recognize.
There were several guest stars, most of which were only briefly shown. Some of those, like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, just weren't funny and I don't think he was a good choice for a Muppet movie. I didn't think the segment with Miss Piggy acting as a guest star on Scrubs worked that well either. Carly Daly, Kelly Ripa, Joe Rogan, William H. Macy and Molly Shannon had short cameos and really didn't add much of anything to what was going on. Matthew Lillard was in one or two scenes as Luc Fromage, a flamboyant director helping with the Christmas special.
There were only three human characters that really had much to do. Rachel Bitterman was the nasty woman who was wanting to foreclose on the Muppet Theater. She was willing to do whatever she had to do to achieve her goal. She was not a nice woman. Joan Cusack was good in the part. Daniel was an angel who saw what was going on with Kermit and wanted to help. He was a bit unsure at times, especially once he was sent to see Kermit in person. David Arquette was fine in the part. Whoopi Goldberg was Daniel's boss who was never identified by name.
Most of the well known Muppet characters turned up at least briefly in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, with Kermit receiving the movie attention. He had been shown to feel the strain of everyone depending on him in The Muppets Take Manhattan, but it wasn't explored as much as it was in this movie. He did sort of crack, and that did show off a side of the character not seen before. Steve Whitmire once again performed as Kermit. While I think he does a good job with the character, the voice still sounds off to me at times. I may have noticed it more this time since it hadn't been that long since I last watched some of my earlier Muppet DVDs. Whitmire also performed Rizzo, Beaker, and Statler.
More of the other Muppets were being performed by other people, so the voices were a little different which was odd at times. Eric Jacobson had taken over Miss Piggy, Fozzy, and Animal. He even briefly did a scene as Yoda since Frank Oz has stopped performing the characters. I did think that Jacobson did a good job with the characters and the voice differences for Miss Piggy and Fozzy were so minor I really didn't realize Oz wasn't performing them until later. Another of Oz's characters, Sam the Eagle, was performed by Kevin Clash, the man who performs as Elmo on Sesame Street.
I think that Janice, the female member of The Electric Mayhem actually spoke for the first time since the death of Richard Hunt, the man who performed her in The Muppet Show and most of the previous Muppet movies. Brain Henson actually performed as her as well as Scooter, another of Hunt's former characters. Janice's voice did sound slight different, but it was close. Bill Barretta, the voice of Pepe the Prawn, took over Dr. Teeth, Rowlf the Dog, and the Swedish Chef, all characters that haven't been used much at all since the death of Jim Henson. It was nice to see them around again.
Muppet Performers and Main Cast
David Arquette - Daniel
Bill Barretta - Pepe the Prawn/Dr. Teeth/Rowlf the Dog/Swedish Chef/Johnny Fiama/Bobo the Bear/Howard/Lew Zealand
Kevin Clash - Sam the Eagle
Joan Cusack - Rachel Bitterman
Whoopi Goldberg - Daniel's Boss
Dave Goelz - The Great Gonzo/Dr. Bunsen Honeydew/Waldorf
Brain Henson - Janice/Scooter/Sal Manilla
John Henson - Sweetums
Eric Jacobson - Miss Piggy/Fozzy/Animal/Yoda
Matthew Lillard - Luc Fromage
Jerry Nelson - Robin the Frog/Statler/Pops/Floyd Pepper
Steve Whitmire - Kermit the Frog/Rizzo the Rat/Beaker/Bean Bunny/Statler
Kirk R. Thatcher - Director
I picked up It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie a few weeks ago. The disc has the standard format and there are a few extras. Inside Pepe's Studio Featurette had Pepe acting like the host of Inside the Actor's Studio. It didn't last that long and was kind of cute. There were some outtakes that were funny, a few deleted scenes, and bios of the Muppets.
I enjoyed It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and am glad that I added the DVD to my movie collection. It wasn't as good as earlier Muppet movies, but I still thought it was entertaining. Fans of the Muppets should give it a chance. I'm also looking forward to the new Muppet Christmas movie that is set to air on December 17, 2008.
The Muppet Show - Season One ~ The Muppet Show - Season 2 ~ The Muppet Show - Season 3 ~ The Muppet Movie ~ The Great Muppet Caper ~ The Muppets Take Manhattan ~ Muppet Family Christmas ~ The Muppet Christmas Carol ~ Muppet Treasure Island ~ Muppets From Space ~ Fraggle Rock - Season 1 ~
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