AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Muppet Movie
Director: James Frawley (Dir)
Release Date:   22 Jun 1979
Duration (in mins):  94
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Cast: Jim Henson  (Kermit the Frog/Rowlf/Dr. Teeth [Electric Mayhem]/Waldorf)
  Frank Oz  (Miss Piggy/Fozzie Bear/Animal [Electic Mayhem]/Sam the Eagle)
  Jerry Nelson  (Floyd Pepper [Electric Mayhem]/Crazy Harry/Robin the Frog/Lew Zealand)

Summary: A group of eclectic performers, known as the Muppets, assemble in a private screening room at World Wide Studios in Hollywood, California, to watch their feature film debut in The Muppet Movie. The affable leader of the raucous troupe, Kermit the Frog, tells his nephew that the story is an approximate account of how the group got started: The film begins in a Southern swamp as Kermit sits on a log and plays the banjo. Passing by in a boat, a tourist named Bernie frantically asks the frog for directions. Bernie, who happens to be a Hollywood agent, admires Kermit’s talent and humor and shows him a notice in the Hollywood trade paper, Variety, announcing a casting audition for frogs next week. Bernie encourages Kermit to try his luck in California and “make millions of people happy.” Although content in his swamp home, Kermit is inspired to follow his dream and starts the journey to Hollywood on a bicycle. While riding through town, Kermit is distracted by a billboard advertising Doc Hopper’s Frog Leg restaurant chain and crashes his bicycle. That evening, Kermit stops at a saloon, called the El Sleezo café and watches as the crowd heckles comedian Fozzie Bear. Kermit tries to help by joining the struggling entertainer on stage for a dance routine. Meanwhile, Doc Hopper and his assistant Max observe the dancing frog with enthusiasm through the café window. The rowdy patrons, however, are not interested and toss Kermit and Fozzie around the place. Escaping the scene, Fozzie agrees to accompany Kermit to Hollywood, and the two aspiring performers continue the journey in Fozzie’s Studebaker. As they leave town, Hopper, a crafty businessman, intercepts the twosome and offers Kermit a $500 advance to be the spokesman for the frog leg restaurant, but Kermit refuses and drives away with Fozzie. Hopper orders Max to follow the Studebaker. Later, Kermit and Fozzie pass a Doc Hopper billboard featuring Kermit’s face on a basket of “french fried frog legs.” Hopper appears from behind the sign to cajole the frog again, but Kermit does not want to work for a business that leaves frogs in crutches and tells Fozzie to drive on. Irate, Hopper plans to be more aggressive next time. Along the way, Kermit and Fozzie encounter a hippie band named Electric Mayhem practicing in a church, and a plumber known as “the Great Gonzo.” Even though Gonzo would rather be a movie star in India, he and his girl friend, Camilla the chicken, join Fozzie and Kermit for the trip to Hollywood. With the help of Sweetums, a friendly, hairy ogre who works at a used car lot, the group trades Gonzo and Fozzie’s battered vehicles for a big station wagon. Kermit invites Sweetums to travel with them, but the ogre appears to run off, and the group leaves without him. Sweetums, however, was merely retrieving his bag and runs after them, following their trail. Next, the group stops at the Bogen County Fair and watches a beauty contest judged by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy. As the winner, Miss Piggy, is crowned, she becomes infatuated at the sight of Kermit and imagines various romantic scenarios with him. The prima donna pig immediately introduces herself and tells Kermit that she is an actress-model. Although Kermit invites Miss Piggy to join him and his friends for ice cream, she packs her suitcase and is ready to ride with them to Hollywood. After retrieving Gonzo, who was lifted into the air by a bunch of balloons, the group is back on the road. That evening, Miss Piggy and Kermit enjoy a romantic dinner together. Just as Kermit is about to kiss her, Miss Piggy leaves the table to take a telephone call and does not return. Kermit is disappointed and shares his troubles with the restaurant’s piano player, Rowlf the dog. Kermit then receives a telephone call from Hopper, who announces that he is holding Miss Piggy hostage and orders the frog to surrender outside. Hopper’s henchmen take Kermit to a hideout where he is tied to a post, alongside Miss Piggy. Professor Krassman, a German scientist, intends to perform a celebrectomy on Kermit, which will make the frog obedient to Hopper. As the professor locks Kermit into a machine, Miss Piggy becomes enraged, escapes from the post, karate chops Krassman and the henchmen, and rescues her beloved frog. She then receives a phone call from her talent agent, who has arranged a commercial for her, and she promptly says goodbye, leaving the frog broken-hearted, once again. Later, however, the group finds Miss Piggy hitchhiking and she rejoins the trip, despite Kermit’s annoyance with her. When the car breaks down, the friends camp overnight in the desert and Kermit is despondent, since he will miss the frog auditions tomorrow. Wandering off alone, he feels guilty for dragging his new friends to the middle of nowhere. Kermit is relieved, however, when he returns to the campfire and sees Electric Mayhem playing. Thanks to The Muppet Movie screenplay Kermit left them, the musicians were able to locate the group in the desert. While continuing to Hollywood in the band’s tour bus, the group is pulled over by Max, disguised as a motorcycle cop. The assistant, who now opposes the thuggish tactics of his boss, warns Kermit that Hopper has hired an expert frog killer. Tired of being bullied, Kermit arranges to meet Hopper and his henchmen in the nearby ghost town. There, the group encounters Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant, Beaker, who maintain a laboratory in an old storefront where they work on inventions. At noon, Kermit confronts Hopper and his gang in the middle of the street and tries to appeal to the businessman, but Hopper is not interested and orders his men to kill the frog. Suddenly, the earth shakes, and Animal, Electric Mayhem’s crazed drummer who ate a handful of Dr. Honeydew’s Insta-Grow pills, appears as a menacing giant. Hopper and his henchmen immediately flee, as Kermit and his friends cheer and proceed to Hollywood. Arriving at World Wide Studios, the group finds their way to the office of executive Lew Lord. However, Miss Tracy, his secretary, refuses to let them enter. Once the group discovers that she is allergic to animal hair, they bombard her with fur and walk past. Despite the executive’s imposing manner, Lord agrees to sign Kermit and his friends to the standard “rich and famous” contract. Later, on a soundstage, Kermit directs a musical finale starring himself and his fellow Muppets. Although the set collapses, the group carries on performing. When the movie ends, Sweetums bursts into the screening room, relieved that he has finally caught up to the Muppets. 

Distribution Company: Associated Film Distribution
Production Company: ITC Entertainment
Director: James Frawley (Dir)
  Kurt Neumann (Prod mgr)
  Ron Wright (1st asst dir)
  Penny Adams Flowers (2d asst dir)
Producer: Jim Henson (Prod)
  Martin Starger (Exec prod)
  David Lazer (Co-prod)
Writer: Jerry Juhl (Wrt)
  Jack Burns (Wrt)

Subject Major: Ambition
  Motion pictures
  Traveling companions
  Voyages and travel
Subject Minor: Animals
  Beauty contests
  Fast food restaurants
  Ghost towns
  Hollywood (CA)
  Motion picture actors and actresses
  Motion picture studios
  Product endorsement
  Talent agents
  Theatrical troupes
  Used car dealerships

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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