Monday, 22 December 2014

Top 10 Muppet Movie Moments

As Homer Simpson once sagely said, a Muppet is "not quite a mop, not quite a puppet". But after seven film outings, Jim Henson's fun creations are one of the most successful entertainment franchises in the world. Everyone seems to love the Muppets. Here is a countdown of their best cinema cuttings:

10 Marley and Marley (Muppets Christmas Carol)

Two heads are better than one when it comes to adapting Dickens. Statler and Waldorf scare the Ebenezer out of Michael Caine's Scrooge with their spooky song. The moment when their face appears in the doorknob is sure to frighten the little ones while older fans will be pleased by the lyrics. Not a humbug in sight.

9 My badge is bigger (Muppets Most Wanted)

Ty Burrell and Sam the eagle clash in the funniest Euro-cop partnership since Clousseau and Cato. But who's badge is bigger? The Muppets are arguably at their best with simple visual gags and this is the best of the offerings from their most recent and underrated film, under the direction of James Bobin.

8 The Admiral Benbow (Muppets Treasure Island)

Another Victorian literary titan was tackled after the success of the Muppets' winter warmer in the mid 1990s.  Their take on Robert Louis Stevenson's swashbuckling adventure introduces the opening setting of Jim Hawkins and Gonzo's Admiral Benbow Inn with gusto. Billy Connolly plays the drunken Billy Bones alongside a young Kevin Bishop and a mischievous moving moose head displayed on the wall. And if that sounds odd, well, you haven't quite grasped the Muppets ethos yet.

7 Happiness Hotel (The Great Muppet Caper)

It has been many years since I last saw the second feature film in the series, set in London during a crime spree by a slick diamond thief. The Happiness Hotel is one of the few moments I can remember with any clarity. As Fozzy says, "If that is the Happiness Hotel, I'd hate to see the sad one."
6 Brick House (Muppets from Space)

When the full Muppet gang live in their own house, all manner of antics go on during the course of an everyday morning routine. To the tune of a funky Motown hit, Kermit and his pals prepare for breakfast in a brilliant expositional sequence.

5 Bear eyes (Muppets from Space)

Another bog standard visual joke executed to perfection. Bobo the bear is a scene stealer for most of this juvenile spoof of the X-Files. Whenever I see it, the laughter is impossible to hold back.

4 Muppet or a man (The Muppets)

Brett Mckenzie's score from 2011 won an Academy Award. Yes, that's right; the Muppets are Oscar winners. Unrecognised greats such as Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton and Marilyn Monroe can only look on with jealousy. On the evidence of this funny but poignant song, in addition to another mention later in this list, the award was undoubtedly deserved.

3 Hey, wait for me! (The Muppet Movie)

His name remains a mystery (to me, at least) and his appearances are always fleeting. Nevertheless, the big, hairy helper grabs a hilarious recurring gag in the original cinematic debut of Henson's characters when he chases their cruising car across America. For all its silliness, I absolutely love it.

2 Pictures in my head (The Muppets)

As seen in my quick countdown, musical numbers are one of the Muppets' most bankable features. In this heartbreaking sonnet from James Bobin's 2011 comeback script, Kermit reminisces about the gang's glory days on the small screen. Having the paintings come to life was a touch of genius, especially that of the Swedish chef and his beloved chicken. Be honest, how many of you watched this with tears in your eyes?

1 Ghost of Christmas Present (Muppets Christmas Carol)

Its that time of year again! The highlight of all highlights, the gem which inspired this entire list, proves that anything - and I mean anything - can be improved by the inclusion of the Muppets. When the affable, ebullient and ever-likable ghost of Christmas present visits Scrooge to warm his curmudgeonly heart, he runs amok in a gloriously picturesque city scape of Dickensian London. Sing along with me, if you know the words, "wherever you find love...It feels like Christmas, it feels like Christmas, hohoho!" If only he actually existed, the world would be such a happy place.


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