The Muppets are back, and if early reviews are any indication “Muppets Most Wanted” ranks up there with the best from those lovable, Jim Henson created fuzzy puppets. But just where will “Most Wanted” fall when all is said and done? Here’s the definitive ranking of every Muppet movie, ever:
7. “Muppets From Space”
The first entirely original Muppet movie after the unfortunate death of Henson, “Muppets From Space” isn’t bad — it’s just forgettable. It did introduce the hilarious Pepe Le Prawn, so that’s a plus in its column. But the story following the Great Gonzo exploring his mysterious origins felt small, and wasn’t nearly as funny as a Muppets movie should be.
6. “Muppet Treasure Island”
More a “Treasure Island” movie with Muppets, than a Muppet movie about “Treasure Island,” this adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s book cast the puppets as supporting characters in the story. Without a real Kermit or Fozzie, this lost a bit of the magic. Still, there’s one great joke involving three puppets named Tom: Old Tom, Real Old Tom, and a skeleton named Dead Tom. Dead Tom gets shot, leading to the classic line, “Dead Tom is dead!”
5. “The Muppet Christmas Carol”
Similar to “Treasure Island,” this version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale focuses on the humans rather than the puppets to tell the story of Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. It certainly holds a fair amount of nostalgia for kids who grew up watching the movie, and it is a sweet version of the novel; but it’s not very funny, something that was probably deeply affected by “Christmas Carol” being the first Muppet movie to come out after Henson’s passing.
4. “The Great Muppet Caper”
“We’re going to catch those crooks red-handed!” “What color are their hands now?” Like “Muppets Most Wanted,” “Caper” took the gang to Europe on a heist-fueled wild-goose chase which found Miss Piggy riding a motorcycle, and a pretty amazing running joke about Fozzie and Kermit being identical twins. Though it lacked the emotion of other Muppet movies, this one wins its high spot for the superb pun quoted up top.
3. “The Muppets”
Yes, Disney’s reboot focused far too much on (totally engaging) human leads Amy Adams and Jason Segel. And yes, the movie banked as much on nostalgia for the franchise as it did on actual jokes. But the songs are superb, and the nostalgia worked. If you didn’t tear up during “Rainbow Connection,” you’re not a human being. So which one is it? Are you a man? Or a Muppet of a man?
2. “The Muppets Take Manhattan”
At its heart, The Muppets has always been about putting on a show; which is why “Takes Manhattan” works so well, as the gang tries to sell a musical, getting into adventures and falling in love along the way. Amazing plot twists abound, like Kermit losing his memory and joining an ad agency filled with frogs; the surprise introduction of the Muppet Babies; and Miss Piggy using the climactic number to trick Kermit into finally marrying her.
But it also has an incredibly profound rallying speech from Louis Zorich’s Pete, as the diner-owner tells the gang:
“Hey, I tell you what is. Big city, hmm? Live, work, huh? But not city only. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples. Okay?”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
1. “The Muppet Movie”
It’s the original, and it’s still the best. Incredible songs, amazing technical innovation, fantastic cameos, and hilarious jokes: “The Muppet Movie” has it all. It’s the Muppet origin story we never knew we wanted, but now can’t live without. Sweet, funny and well acted, “The Muppet Movie” isn’t just the best Muppet movie, it’s one of the best movies ever made. Period.
Bonus: “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson” – It’s not a movie, but this TV special where The Muppets find out not only that they were created by Jim Henson, but that he just died is literally the most heart-breaking thing you will watch in your entire life. There’s almost no way a tribute to a man like Henson could have been done with puppets without making it feel cloying and cheesy; but this works, and when the gang all sing a song to Henson at the end of the special it created one of the most unique and beautiful moments ever committed to film.
But don’t listen to what we have to say. What do YOU think is the best Muppet movie of all time? Let us know in our poll, below.
“Muppets Most Wanted” hits theaters on March 21.