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What went wrong with Muppets from Space?

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Daffney, Apr 1, 2011.

  1. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    Eh, I don't know I thought it tried too hard and suffered because of it. And I think it suffered more from a horrendous script than the director though I agree he's definitely to blame as well.
  2. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    The scene with Gonzo and the Noah's Ark bit was actually one of the best scenes in the movie in my opinion and that's because it was written by the late great Jerry Juhl. The biggest problem I've had since Jim passed away is the writing on many of these projects that just don't seem to understand what makes the Muppets tick. The reason Sesame Street still cracks me up after all these years is they have some of the best writers in television: period. Even though I don't like the format it's taken in recent years, I can still turn it on and chuckle and sadly that hasn't happened for me with a post Jim Muppet project in awhile.
  3. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    When I watched MFS (which is rarely), I just get this vibe of children pretending to be adults. The original Muppet films actually were adult and sophisticated. Muppets from Space wishes it could be that grown up! ;)

    And that's basically the vibe I've continually gotten from the post-Jim Muppet projects.
  4. JJandJanice

    JJandJanice Active Member

    No one said the movie didn't have "musical moments" it didn't have "music numbers." Which are original songs for the movie, which Muppets from Space did not have at all. Having characters dance or lip sync to a popular song isn't the same as having an original music number. I mean really, what's more memorable to Muppet fans here, Kermit singing Rainbow connection at the start of the Muppet movie or the Muppets dancing to "Brick House" in Muppets from Space?

    With that being said, personally, I think overall, I enjoyed Muppets from Space a little more (just a little) than Muppet Treasure Island.
  5. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Exactly!
  6. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Well, considering TMM is a lot older and did a lot better at the box office... (no, stop throwing your tomatos at me!....)
  7. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    A good director can make a terrible script shine more than it needs to, a good actor can act the heck out of a bad script too. I've seen a lot of bad, downright stupid movies that had good direction and acting that made the project seem better than it should have been. A Bad director can ruin ANYTHING. They stifle the actor's, they pull stuff out of the script if they don't think it matches their vision, and of course, they can botch the overall look of the film.

    Now, I don't feel the script was great (I wish wish wish someone would leak the original... remember several years when the original Muppet Movie script was leaked, and there were all these weird Henry Kissinger running gags?), but it deserved a lot more than an amature director who, again, makes crummy kiddy film that are stifled, don't try hard enough, and almost talk down to kids. I swear, there WERE some good concepts, and some good scenes that survived the terrible direction (I can't get enough of the bit with Gonzo and VanNeuter... that's like the best part of the movie after the opening).

    There was clearly a too many cooks moment with the script, but Joey's done some funny stuff on Sesame Street... and it seems like the stuff he wanted in the script that was taken out would have helped the movie out. I mean, even if it was still bad, we'd LOVE the fact Traveling Matt had an appearance. Above all, there was no excuse for dropping a multi-layered ending for a cheap little happy banal one.

    And I contest... how funny would it have been if more muppets were painting the house? or have Bunsen and Beaker make an automatic paint-o-matic that blew a hole in the roof? That's Muppet. Sitting around, playing cards and drinking Minute Maid? Not Muppet. Jeez... 90% of the footage might as well have been taken in the green room.

    But then again, maybe if they had a better project over all... one that didn't need space.
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I've mentioned it before, but I still wonder why Brian Henson or anybody else with Muppet directing experience didn't direct this one. The two movies directed by Brian did well (I know one of them is the second highest-grossing Muppet movie, can't remember which one). Too bad Frank Oz was busy with other things (if he had to dub his characters voices then I'm sure he wouldn't have been available to direct... Ironically after this one came out it was announced that Oz was interested in directing the next movie after that).
  9. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    That's what bugs me... I'm sure he was busy with something at the time, but he really should have stomped his foot down and said, "You know what? I'll do it myself." I'm sure we would have had a better project (and someone that gets the importance of giving a Fraggle a cameo). Not a great movie, but at least it wouldn't have had such a DTV/Telefilm look to it.

    Though I still contest, MupOz was a far worse film. At least when Bobo was with Jeffery Tambor, Jeffery could ACT and he had chemistry. There was so much wrong with MupOz, but Ashanti's bad acting and the awkwardness of the chemistry just made the film even more uncomfortable to watch.
  10. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    I agree with what you're saying to an extent, but in my opinion, bad script was what sabotaged this one. And I actually haven't enjoyed Joey's contributions to Sesame much. If there's one film that's worse than Muppets From Space, it's Elmo in Grouchland. Great performer but he should stick to that I think.
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    EIG was bad because it was forced. No doubt about it. I'd liken it to the 1980's He-Man movie. it was only made because Elmo started his popularity with that dumb toy around then. But also, they made a movie specifically for a demographic that should NEVER be taken to see a movie. 3 year olds. I'm wondering it the theatrical release was just a contractual obligation, since it was definitely a DTV project. Though, I like the EIG movie for exploring Elmo as a character. There's nothing I hate more about Elmo than the fact even the writers seem to have to use him as a mascot, rather than something bigger.

    I can't blame the script of MFS, not entirely... we do not know the extent of the director's changes outside screwing the ending up, killing one of the best cameos in the movie, and above all, toning everything way down. I want to see the original script get leaked one day. it may suck too, sure... but at least we'll get a real feel of what the movie could have been.

    That said, the one thing I WILL fault the script with is doing far too much and taking too much time to do half of it. There's something wrong with the flow of the whole capture and escape sequence... and I'm sure that a lot of the mail checking and house painting took up space that even slight little pauses and asides in later scenes could have filled it out better. I mean, I like Gonzo about to be dissected by Van Neuter, I like the rats in a prison movie parody... but the rescue itself seems completely off. And somehow I also feel a LOT of time is wasted at Piggy's supposed reporting job.

    There was no call for the extended playing cards, listlessly, in the basement.

    So basically it comes down to:

    Studio ennui
    Amateur/hack direction
    Fuzzy gimmicky script
    uneven pacing
    and a bad release date sandwiched in a competitive summer...
  12. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    I wonder if there are any kids who grew up with "Muppets From Space" as one of, if not their first exposure to the Muppets and now consider it a treasured part of their youth? Just curious...
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking a bit more, and I feel they should have had more characters search for Gonzo, and split them up into groups.

    I think this would have been ideal grouping:
    • Group 1 - Kermit, Piggy, Pepe, and either Robin or Camilla.
    • Group 2 - Animal, Floyd, Janice, Dr. Teeth, Zoot, and maybe Lips (okay, if I made the movie then DEFINATELY Lips).
    • Group 3 - Fozzie, Clifford, Rowlf, Scooter, and Bean Bunny.

    Of course, considering they were pretty much starting their "baby steps" of recasting Scooter, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, and Janice, then it might have been unlikely they'd put Rowlf and Scooter in a group and unlikely there'd be a full Electric Mayhem group. Perhaps if it was made today they'd do it that way, but back then probably not. If they grouped the Electric Mayhem together either they wouldn't have had many scenes with that group, or for the most part it'd just be Animal and Floyd doing all the speaking (then again, that's pretty much how it was in the TMS episodes with Kaye Ballard and Dudley Moore, where the band was the main focus).

    And for group 3, maybe it would have been more realistic to have Johnny Fiama and Sal instead of Rowlf and Scooter, or perhaps NOT leave Bunsen and Beaker at the gas station. Or maybe instead of a full Electric Mayhem team, have group 2 be Floyd, Animal, Johnny, and Sal, and group 3 be Fozzie, Clifford, Bunsen, Beaker, and Bean (or put Clifford in group 2 as well).

    In fact it seems MFS and EIG had sort of a parralell. Both invovle characters looking for a missing character, and in both films when it's announced somebody is in trouble pretty much all the characters who are there when they hear the news go out to rescue Gonzo or Elmo (though a Honker and Dinger were present when they learned Elmo was in Grouchland, and didn't help).
  14. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    Hmm- maybe they were just big honking dingalings.;):D
  15. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    I've been wondering the same thing. Whatever Frank was working on, I don't know, but man...for a Muppet movie, put a director who knows something about the Muppets at the helm. Who would be more appropriate than Frank?

    At LEAST if you have another director who doesn't know beans about Muppets, have 'em talk to the Muppeteers about their characters. Make 'em do their homework about what makes Muppet projects Muppety! There's tons of things to watch, lots of people to interview and so many other things to research about the Muppets.

    If I were chosen to be director of MFS, I would have had brains enough to say:

    A. "Let's go with Jerry Juhl's script. He knows what he's doing and has known for ages. We'll read it over with Frank, Dave, Jerry, Steve, etc. and see what they can contribute."

    B. "Let's hire veteran songwriters such as Paul Williams or Phillip Balsam and Dennis Lee to create some original songs fitting to the characters and the plot."

    C. "Let's poke gentle fun at classic sci-fi movies, TV shows and maybe throw in a reference to the Roswell Incident. Let's make sure to keep those references both clever and classic. I got some Pigs in Space on DVD and VHS. If we're gonna have the film called 'Muppets IN Space", someone should dust off the Swinetrek!"

    When I saw the film, I thought the Noah's Ark scene was the best part, followed by some here-and-there bits sprinkled throughout. Those must have been some of Jerry Juhl's ideas still left after the whole script was run through the shredder and Scotch taped back together with added unnecessary cameos (Hulk Hogan?)

    Yeah, a Bunsen and Beaker paint-o-matic would have been fun to see. The Boarding House needed more than just mundane, regular activities going on. There were Mupety touches to some (the penguins taking a bath), but it just needed more.

    The film could have used some original music, better direction...and to use Joey's original ending. A Traveling Matt cameo? How cool would that have been?

    No one mentioned this yet, but it would have been fun to have a cameo by a Sesame Street character or two. Big Bird, Oscar and more were fun to see in the older films. It would have been fun for Joey's original ending to have the aliens revealed as the Yip Yip martians! What Muppet fan wouldn't get a chuckle out of that?

    Convincing John
  16. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Well I do know a couple people like that and they get very annoyed with me when I refuse to watch the film, heh.

    Nostalgia does have that amazing power of turning the mediocre into magnificence. ;)
  17. TSSD

    TSSD Active Member

    MFS was one of my first exposures to the Muppets, and I used to love it when I was a kid, thinking there could be no better muppet movie. And then, about 3 years ago, I watched Studio DC since my little sister had it on, and it made my Muppet love grow. I soon watched TMM GMC, MTM, and some episodes of TMS, and realized how disappointing MFS really was. I still like it, just not as much, now that I've seen what The Muppets are truly capable of.
  18. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I'm wondering how much of the script Jerry actually did. Sure, they clearly had to write and rewrite it. But then again, he could have also wrote the barest part of a screenplay and needed someone to set more of it up. I dunno... I mean, other than the fact Joey mentioned some things, how much do we really know about the project?

    Again, I blame the director's "vision" for that. There were too many opportunities to have more of the Muppet cast sit around the house and do their own things. They could have all been in the TV room fighting over what to watch on television, with Kermit saying "we got to support Piggy, so let's watch her show." It seems 90% of the crew just vanished to day jobs after the breakfast scene. And maybe some of the "realism" was to blame for the strange pacing near the end of the movie.

    This from the same visionary that once said, "We GOTTA make the Chipmunks addicted to toaster waffles because they're funny mundane things and have 2 funny words in them." (seriously... anyone see that movie? it made NO sense and wasn't funny).




    There would have been no way a SS cameo would have been in the cards. There hasn't been a SS cameo since MTM. And the only Fraggle cameos were smaller creatures and Sprocket if you get the widescreen edition of MTI. The closest they could come for an SS cameo in MFS is something that sort of looks like the 123 Sesame Stoop. I dunno if it was a rights thing, or if it was some sort of separation at the time... but a SS cameo in any Muppet movie is impossible now.
  19. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    Hey now, I was around 3 years old when I went to movies as a kid. I know my sister definitely was when we saw Follow That Bird in theaters when it came out. The difference is, alot of kids have ADD nowadays mainly due to the parents' fault, and Elmo in Grouchland had that pace about it too, which may be one of the things I didn't like about it. But I know we were always behaved going to the movies as kids. We must've seen every Disney film that came out as a re-release. I also went to my first concert around 3, 4 years old.... My parents wouldn't have stood for us acting up anywhere in public.
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Sigh... must I mention my Bolt story again?

    Kids running around the aisles, slapping me on the head until I calmly turned to the parent who preceded to discipline the stupid brat by letting him run up and down the aisles some more.

    Heck, I remember one of the times I saw MFS in a theater, kids were screaming like crazy.

    There are kids who behave, and kids who really shouldn't have been taken to the theaters. Either way, making a movie for a mas 3 year old and under audience wasn't such a smart move. Plus, we all have to realize it was mostly for the merchandising potential. I guess it did better on VHS and DVD where it SHOULD have gone.


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