For Jim Henson and his Muppet troupe, life was good in 1979. Sesame Street had been on the air for ten years, The Muppet Show was in its third season, and The Muppet Movie hit the big screen. Henson and company celebrated and plugged the upcoming movie with The Muppets Go Hollywood. Set at the infamous and luxurious Cocoanut Grove and co-hosted by the legendary funny man Dick van Dyke and the lovely Rita Moreno, The Muppets Go Hollywood harkens back to the golden age of Hollywood. Clad in a tuxedo and an evening dress respectively, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy were a charming leading man and leading lady. The show itself is a combination of a party, movie premiere, and performance. Clips from the movie, Muppet performances, celebrity appearances, and some really bad dancing make this special a must see! The special not only celebrates the Hollywood of yesteryear, but it also pokes fun at it. Sweetums, Doglion, Mean Mama, The Mutations, and other Muppet monsters open the show with the antithesis of an opening number. They clumsily dance and sing “Hooray for Hollywood” in an eerie minor key. Celebrities and Muppets alike arrived in limousines and Rolls Royces, introduced and interviewed by the amicable Dick Van Dyke. Rita Moreno attempted to hold her own with Van Dyke and the Muppets, but she fell just a little short. She attempted to restore the Cocoanut Grove to its forgotten glory with a musical number, but it was pretty ho hum. Her number would have been more entertaining if it were performed by the Chiquita Banana lady. Judging by the talkative crowd, I was not the only one unimpressed by her performance. Her presence could have been a great time for a cat fight between her and Miss Piggy, with each trying to outdo the other or perhaps battle over Kermit’s affection and attention. She does provide some eye candy for Animal who attacks her in the lovable, ironically nonthreatening way only he can. Twice in the special she attempts to quiet him by squeezing his nose like a pink rubber ball. It was distracting and broke the suspension of belief. Like other stars before and after her, Moreno fell short because she treated the Muppets like lifeless puppets instead of playing off of them as other actors. In fact, her best moment is after her musical number when she accidentally clears the room with a giant conga line that gets a bit out of control and the entire crowd snakes out of the Cocoanut Grove and, as Kermit predicts, makes it halfway to Tijuana by morning! Legendary comedic musical and comedic actor Dick Van Dyke is able to pick up the slack. Not only does he successfully play straight man to the wacky Muppets, but he becomes the object of Miss Piggy’s affection while dancing with her and serenading her with “You Oughta Be in Pictures.” The most exciting musical numbers are saved for the Muppets. Longtime Muppet writer Jerry Juhl has saved the best lines for the Muppets, too. The Electric Mayhem Band performs “Can You Picture That” from the movie and Zoot, the blue sunglasses wearing saxophone player, joins the house band in “How High the Moon.” Although they are celebrated by the Muppets, the actual stars seem to just provide a background to the colorful Muppets. The most memorable performance is by the diva herself, Miss Piggy, with “Baby Face.” Miss Piggy enters the room carried on a golden throne like Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra by muscular, shirtless beef cakes. Of course, this means that the beef cakes were really carrying Frank Oz who was smooshed and crouched inside of that throne while performing Miss Piggy! Whenever the Muppets are singing on the stage in the nightclub, they are cleverly hidden behind black boxes and podiums. It truly was a show stopper. It makes the entire special worth it. Most of the celebrities who appear as the Muppets guests appeared on The Muppet Show. They are smoking, drinking, laughing, and genuinely appear to be enjoying themselves. Liberace, Don Knotts, Gary Busey, Jean Stapleton, Mel Brooks, LeVar Burton, Richard Mulligan, Ruth Buzzi, James Coburn, and Christopher Reeve are just a few of the celebrity faces that fill the crowd. It is fun to see the stars enjoying themselves and being part of the audience instead of performing. I warn you, there is a lot of bad dancing in this show, especially by Christopher Reeve. For Muppet fans, there is a brief interview with Jim Henson and a blink and you miss it view of a very young Steve Whitmire too! Some of the scenes were pre-recorded and edited into the special in between Cocoanut Grove scenes. Miss Piggy is interviewed poolside and lyricist and composer Paul Williams discuss in a record studio how they wrote “The Rainbow Connection.” They also perform a section of the song. I only wish their “behind the scenes” performance was a little longer. Of course, the tongue in cheek Muppets are happy to be movie stars, but they do not let it go to their heads! Instead of staying at a fancy Hollywood hotel, they stay at the Bide-A-Wee Motor Park because not only is it cheaper, but they need a place that allows livestock! They even save money by cleaning up the nightclub after the show. This special was syndicated along with The Muppet Show, but it has not been released on DVD. This would make a wonderful special feature on a Blu-ray release of The Muppet Movie (hint hint). This one gets 2.5 out of 5 rubber chickens! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.