Muppets From Space

on July 14, 1999 by Francesca Dinglasan
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   Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the rest of the gang are back, but this time it's the whimsical vulture-schnozed performance artist, Gonzo the Great, who takes center stage in their sixth big-screen adventure, "Muppets From Space." The movie opens with Gonzo waking up troubled by a nightmare in which his uniqueness as an unknown species (a.k.a. a "whatever") results in Noah (F. Murray Abraham) rejecting him from the Ark (only creatures in pairs are accepted). As a result, the self-reflecting Muppet starts grappling with the idea of being completely alone in the universe. The answer to his soul-searching comes to him through his breakfast cereal, which transmits clues about his outer-space origin. Gonzo reacts to the message by attempting to contact his alien family, but is kidnapped by K. Edgar Singer (Jeffrey Tambor), a secret government operative committed to proving the existence of extra-terrestrials. It is up to Kermit and the rest of Gonzo's reliable Muppet buddies to come save him before a crazy scientist removes his brain for experimentation.
   With plenty of laughs for the kids and plenty more for their parents, "Muppets From Space" is both a delightful spoof on sci-fi flicks (with references to "Men in Black," "Star Wars" and "Independence Day" thrown in for good measure) as well as a classic Muppet tale replete with lessons about friendship and self-worth. Generations familiar with "The Muppet Show" television series will especially appreciate the film's return to its characters' roots, with Animal familiarly displaying his oversexed libido ("WO-MAN! WO-MAN!") and Miss Piggy shining in full glam-girl-with-a-black-belt form; however, it's the relatively new character of Pepe, a red-haired shrimp ("I am not a shrimp! I am a king prawn!" he insists), who comes away as the most winning and witty of the Muppets. With a nice balance of old and new, accompanied by a funky soundtrack featuring The Commodores' "Brick House," The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" and Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star," "Muppets From Space" is quite simply out of this world. Starring Gonzo the Great, Rizzo the Rat, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Pepe the Giant Prawn and Jeffrey Tambor. Voiced by Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Bill Barretta and Frank Oz. Directed by Tim Hill. Written by Jerry Juhl, Joseph Mazzarino and Ken Kaufman. Produced by Brian Henson and Martin G. Baker. A Columbia release. Comedy. Rated G. Running time: 90 min
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