A scene from MUPPETS FROM SPACE, directed by Tim Hill for Columbia Pictures.

Muppets from Space (1999, Tim Hill)

Muppets from Space is definitely missing some important elements (like subplots and a first act), but it usually doesn’t matter. Even though Hill is a poor director–the film doesn’t just lack personality, it looks like a TV show–the Muppet performers are incredibly strong and the script has a bunch of great lines.

The film focuses on Gonzo, which might be the major problem. The Muppets are a team and, while everyone else gets into the act (to some degree), it’s mostly Gonzo’s show. And there’s not enough for him to do. The script lacks narrative ambition–Gonzo gets kidnapped by the Men in Black and the Muppets free him. Then there are space Muppets.

A little bit more happens at the beginning, but that description pretty much covers it all. It’s as though the screenwriters know they can get away with certain things–like not giving the rest of the Muppets story arcs–and still be genially okay. They’re right… but geniality doesn’t make up for ambition.

For the Muppets, Pepe, Bobo and Miss Piggy are the standouts in this one. Most of the cameos are with Piggy–she has great scenes with Ray Liotta, Andie MacDowell and Josh Charles.

In the primary human role, Jeffrey Tambor is funny. David Arquette and Rob Schneider work well too, probably because they’re only slightly less manic than the Muppets.

The funk soundtrack is occasionally amusing but a little forced (original songs would’ve helped).

It’s perfectly fine… just feels like television.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Tim Hill; written by Jerry Juhl, Joey Mazzarino and Ken Kaufman; director of photography, Alan Caso; edited by Richard Pearson and Michael A. Stevenson; music by Jamshied Sharifi; production designer, Stephen Marsh; produced by Martin G. Baker and Brian Henson; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Kevin Clash, Bill Barretta, Kevin Clash and Frank Oz as the Muppets.

Starring Jeffrey Tambor (K. Edgar Singer), Andie MacDowell (Shelley Snipes), Pat Hingle (General Luft), David Arquette (Dr. Tucker), Rob Schneider (UFO Mania TV Producer), Josh Charles (Agent Baker), Hulk Hogan (Man in Black), Ray Liotta (Gate Guard), Kathy Griffin (Female Armed Guard) and F. Murray Abraham (Noah).

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