Muppets from Space
Muppets from Space, on the other hand, is merely a good flick with a handful of chuckles. It involves the age-old question: what, exactly, is Gonzo? In The Muppet Movie, it was decided that he was "sort of like a turkey, but not much." In subsequent appearances, he has been called a "whatever" and a "weirdo." But because every franchise must eventually exploit -- uh, explore these mysteries, the story of Gonzo's origin becomes clear: he is, of course, an alien, and his people have contacted him through his alphabet breakfast cereal.
Despite the title, it takes an awfully long time for the film to involve anything from space, unless you count the Cosmic Fish who visit Gonzo in a lightning-inspired hallucination. (You're just gonna have to watch the movie.) Most of the plot revolves around a rogue Man in Black (Jeffrey Tambor) and his bear sidekick. Man, that bear cracks us up! The Men (and Bear) in Black are trying to apprehend Gonzo so they can finally have some proof that aliens exist. Although Gonzo initially keeps them at bay, he and Rizzo are eventually captured, and of course it's up to their Muppet pals to rescue them. The rescue attempt is appropriately wacky, but the one-liners just don't come as fast or as furiously, and the best payoff is Rizzo's escape from his new life as a laboratory rat, a la The Shawshank Redemption.
Muppets from Space is really a film for fans of the Muppets and for kids. It has infinitely more originality and creativity than gooey children's fare like the endless string of Land Before Time flicks, but it lacks the energy and edginess of the previous Muppet offerings. Heck, even Muppet Treasure Island had that weird "Cabin Fever" number to throw us off guard. As the movies grow ever more derivative, we wish someone would come along and jolt the Muppet performers and writers back into that old frenzy, in which they took more chances and got more laughs.
Review date: 8/3/99
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