The only Muppet movie where I was able to go see it in theaters and didn’t. I will be honest, I don’t really remember why I didn’t see it in theaters, I just didn’t. When it came out on VHS/DVD, I was sharing an apartment with some friends and one of them, Doug, said I needed to watch it just for one scene (The Hulk Hogan scene because we are both wrestling fans). Anyways, I did watch it while he had it rented but I never thought about getting it on DVD until relatively recently, when I decided to buy the rest of the Muppet movies that I did not already own. So let’s get right into today’s movie, Muppets From Space.
The plot: Gonzo the Great wakes up from a dream where Noah refuses to let him on the ark because he was the only one of his kind and when he tries to tell his roommate, Rizzo the Rat, he finds that Rizzo has fallen back asleep. The next morning, the Muppets, who are all living in the same house, are all starting their day and having breakfast. When Gonzo comes down for breakfast, he starts to tell Kermit what is bothering him but Kermit is forced to deal with some of the issues with the house. Gonze pours a bowl of cereal when some of it falls out of the bowl and as he watches, it starts moving around to form a message of “WATCH THE SKY”. Gonzo tries telling Rizzo but the letters appear jumbled and Rizzo thinks Gonzo is just being his normal weird self. When Gonzo pours out some more cereal, a toy telescope falls out of the box and the cereal spells out “R U THERE”. At C.O.V.N.E.T., a government facility (conviently disguised as a cement factory) tasked with investigating possible extra terrestrial threats, head agent K. Edgar Singer is speaking with General Luft and showing him pictures from various artifacts where the message “R U THERE” keeps appearing and believes it to be proof of a possible threat but General Luft believes that the pictures are doctored. Back at the Muppets house, Gonzo has spent the entire day up on the roof watching the sky and as night falls, he sees a bolt of lightning heading his way. When the lightning strikes him, his consciousness is transported to outer space, where a pair of cosmic fish tell him that he is an alien and that his family has been searching for him and that he needs to send a message to let them know where he is. When Gonzo comes too, he bursts into the house to tell everyone that he is an alien, then grabs the keys to the riding lawn mower and begins mowing the yard. The next day, Rizzo and Pepe the King Prawn grab Gonzo, who fell asleep in the lawn mower, and bring him inside but decide to play a joke on him and pretend to be his family and trick him into building a Jacuzzi. Gonzo builds it and throws a party to welcome his family but nobody shows up. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker decide to help Gonzo make contact with his family but he ends up intercepting a signal for the local TV station and mistakenly believes that he needs to go there. At the station, the host for UFO Mania is stuck at the airport so the producer ends up putting Miss Piggy, who works there as a gofer, on in her place. As Piggy is beginning her broadcast, Gonzo appears and starts talking into the camera and says he received his people’s messages and that he is here. Kermit and the others see the show and Kermit and Rizzo go to the studio to grab Gonzo but Edgar has also seen it and sends some of his men to collect Gonzo. At the studio, Kermit and Rizzo show up and try to convince Gonzo to come home with them but two men in black show up claiming to want to help Gonzo contact his people and Gonzo leaves with them, with Rizzo tagging along. Meanwhile, Piggy uses her friendship with Gonzo to finagle a permanent reporting gig with the show’s producer and tries to speak with Gonzo but one of the agents stops her and ends up fighting with her. Piggy manages to beat him and learns all about C.O.V.N.E.T. and gets excited about her chance for a big story. Kermit heads home but is shocked to discover that all sorts of people have started gathering around the house waiting for Gonzo to appear. When Piggy returns to the house, she tells Kermit, Fozzie, Pepe, and Animal what she learned and they talk with Bunsen to get some inventions to help them break Gonzo free. At C.O.V.N.E.T., Gonzo is brought to Edgar’s office and Edgar starts to question him, then has Rizzo taken away by Hollywood Hulk Hogan, who is serving as a man in black, while Gonzo is taken to a cell to await surgery to remove his brain. Rizzo is flushed down a tube into a medical testing lab, where he and the other rats (Bubbe, Shakes, Fast Eddie, Troy, and the Bird Man) are experimented on by Dr. Tucker. Meanwhile, Edgar’s assistant Rentro (played by Bobo the Bear) brings Gonzo a sandwich but when he leaves to get something else, the sandwich starts speaking with Gonzo, saying his family is arriving tonight. Gonzo says not to land at his house, as the government knows where he lives, and says to meet on the beach at Cape Doom but is unaware that Rentro overheard the conversation. Kermit and the others arrive at C.O.V.N.E.T. and sneak up on the guardhouse, where Piggy uses a mind control spray on the guard to get them inside. They then use an invisibility spray to sneak inside the building but when Fozzie washes his hands after using the restroom, they are almost caught by a female security guard but Animal, while still invisible, starts attacking her and chases her off, leaving the others to hide as the invisibility spray wears off. Meanwhile, Rizzo manages to make an escape tunnel and he and the other rats leave the lab but as they are making their way through the air ducts, Rizzo leaves the other rats to go find and rescue Gonzo. At the lab, Dr. Phil Van Neuter is asking Gonzo some questions before he performs the surgery but while he is distracted, Rizzo sneaks in through the vent and tries to free Gonzo. When Dr. Van Neuter sees Rizzo, he comments about hating rats, which prompts Bubba and the others, who had followed Rizzo, to start attacking him while Kermit and the others escape with Gonzo and Rizzo. Edgar takes General Luft to see Gonzo but they witness Dr. Van Neuter being attacked by the rats and General Luft fires Edgar. As Rentro tries to comfort Edgar, Edgar yells at him to find Gonzo. Meanwhile, Kermit and the others manage to find Animal, who was being harassed by the now love-struck guard he had been chasing, and try to escape but find themselves surrounded by guards. They decide to use Bunsen’s Door In A Jar but the door is too small for most of them to use. Pepe decides to use it and it allows him to open another door that allows them to escape the building. As they are driving away, Gonzo says he needs to go to the beach to meet his family but when the others don’t believe him, he says to stop the bus and he will go there himself. Kermit tells Gonzo that if he believes that he is an alien, then that is all that matters and agrees to go to the beach with him. Piggy tells her cameraman where they are going and he ends up telling the rest of the people camped in front of the Muppets house and they all head to Camp Doom. Meanwhile, Edgar threatens Rentro into telling him where Gonzo is heading and when Rentro tells him, he grabs the Subatomic Neutro-Destabilizer and prepares to head after him but when Rentro tells him his car is impounded, they are forced to take one of the company cars, which turns out to be a cement truck. Arriving at the beach, Gonzo is greeted by throngs of fans and Piggy starts to do her broadcast but is interrupted by Shelley Snipes, the original host of the show. The two start fighting but Piggy uses the mind control spray to convince Shelley to give Piggy her job. The crowd wait with Gonzo but when nothing happens by 1 in the morning, Gonzo says that they aren’t coming and some of the crowd starts to turn on him and leave until a little girl points up at the sky. A giant cloud starts descending towards the beach and reveals a small, egg shaped craft, which lands on the beach. The egg opens up and reveals itself to be a signal beacon, which the larger craft uses to home in on the beach. When the ship lands, an alien figure asks for Gonzo to step forward and when he does, the alien runs back into the ship. Suddenly a voice sounds out saying that Gonzo had been lost a long time ago and now that he has been found, they have a cause to celebrate. The ship opens up and reveals a stage, where Gonzo’s family are singing and dancing. In celebration for finding Gonzo, they shoot him out of the ceremonial cannon and they crowd around him after he lands. Suddenly, Edgar shows up and tries to shoot Gonzo and his family but the weapon isn’t loaded, as Rentro reveals to Kermit that he unloaded the weapon. As Edgar starts reacting to not being able to shoot the aliens, Gonzo’s family say that they like him and want him to be Earth’s ambassador to their planet, which Edgar accepts. They then say it is time to leave and Gonzo starts to head onto the ship, but then realizes that he made a home on Earth and chooses not to leave, happy in knowing that he is not alone anymore. The spaceship takes off and later, Gonzo, Kermit, and several other Muppets are on the roof of the house staring at the stars and Gonzo wonders why he was asked to build a Jacuzzi, causing Pepe to chuckle.
Muppets From Space met with mixed reviews from the critics, earning a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “If Muppets From Space lacks the magic and wit of its cinematic predecessors, this pleasingly silly space romp is funny and clever enough to make for better-than-average family entertainment.” According to Brian Henson, the movie was originally supposed to come out in February of 2000 but Columbia Pictures pushed it forward, wanting it to be one of their summer hits. The movie only made a little over $22 million off of a $24 million budget, making it the only movie in the franchise to fail at the box office.
Yesterday I watched one of my favorite Muppet movies and today, I watched one of my least favorite ones. I don’t know why but this one honestly didn’t strike the same cord with me as the others did. The acting was decent and the interactions between Muppets and people was good. The story itself was ok, with the plot basically trying to explain what Gonzo is, since he has been referred to as a “whatever” for years (though in Muppet Babies, he was a little blue weirdo). The puppetry work was very good and there were several instances with multiple Muppets involved which I am sure made for some trying work. It’s a decent movie but definitely on the low end of the Henson scale.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5