The following feature lists each theatrically released Muppet movie from least weird to most weird, with help from Muppets Most Wanted and The Muppets director James Bobin. As a TV movie, The Muppets' Wizard Of Oz does not feature on this list, but if it did, Quentin Tarantino’s violently enthusiastic action sequence pitch to Kermit would get a mention, since it’s about as muppetational as you could possibly imagine. If you’re interested, watch QT being interviewed by Pepe The Prawn here. Naturally, weirdness is in the eye of the beholder, so if there are any especially nutzo moments not mentioned, be sure to say so in the comment box at the bottom.
Director: James Frawley
Tagline: ‘More entertaining than humanly possible!’
Simplest IMDb summary: “Kermit the frog wants fame. Persuaded by an agent to pursue acting, he hops west towards Hollywood! Tagging along: Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, 'The Great Gonzo', and a motley group of Muppets help dodge evil Doc Hopper and a cameo-filled cast on the trek to Tinseltown!”
Weirdest bit: It’s a film-within-a-film, which is inherently weird. The pre-credits section features a few brilliant gags, including Sweetums asking “Is this seat taken?” before wrenching the cinema recliner in question out of the floor and walking off with it. And there's Lew Zealand and his boomerang fish act! You can’t fail to love Lew Zealand and his boomerang fish act.
Weirdest cameo: Richard Pryor, who flogs inflatables at a fairground. “A beautiful chicken like that deserves TWO balloons!” Also, some guy called Orson Welles.
James Bobin’s thoughts: “The least weird Muppet movie is the first, The Muppet Movie, because it’s an origin story – a great idea about where Kermit came from and how he got to Hollywood.”
Director: James Bobin
Tagline: ‘They’re closer than you think'*
Simplest IMDb summary: “Walter is a Muppet whose ambition is to visit the Muppet Theatre in Hollywood. One day, he gets the opportunity to go, with his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary's girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams). However, when they arrive they are saddened by the state that the place is in. When Walter discovers that oil magnate Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) intends to buy it to drill for oil, he, Gary and Mary travel far and wide to reunite the disbanded Muppets. Together again, the Muppets must put on a show and try to keep their beloved home.”
Weirdest bit: Nothing is out-and-out bonkers, but the fart shoes, the “maniacal laugh” and The Swedish Chef gurbling “Say hello to my little friend” before blasting a flame thrower at a fridge deserve a mention. Then there’s Tex Richman’s rap, possibly the oddest sequence in an admittedly not-that-odd Muppets movie, featuring such lyrics as, “I’ve got more cheddar than some supersize nachos / Got cash flow like Robert has dineros”.
Weirdest cameo: Dave Grohl as Animool isn’t weird, it’s genius, as is Alan Arkin as the Muppet Studios tour guide. But in the mad, mad, mad category you’ll find Jim Parsons as “Human Walter” during the rendition of the Oscar-winning ‘Man Or Muppet’.
James Bobin’s thoughts: “My first Muppet movie – ‘Muppets 2011’, as some people like to call it for some weird reason – was an emotional family reunion. It was pretty normal. Essentially, ‘Here are the Muppets. Remember them from back in the day?’”
Director: Brian Henson
Simplest IMDb summary: “A retelling of the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, miser extraordinaire. He is held accountable for his dastardly ways during night-time visitations by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and future.”
Weirdest bit: The Ghost Of Christmas Past, who resembles a poached egg gone horribly wrong. Her voice is especially eerie but maybe we should give her a break, appearing as she does in a movie that also features ice-skating penguins, Michael Caine singing and a big Santa Claus-like man who disappears into sparkly multicoloured lights.
Weirdest cameo: Fraggle Rock’s Wander McMooch, who plays a partygoer at Fred’s place. Mr. McMooch also makes a cameo appearance in Muppet Treasure Island as one of the pirates who attack the Admiral Benbow Inn.
James Bobin’s thoughts: “It’s period, so that’s interesting. But yes, it’s quite normal, because it’s a straight story, and one of the greatest stories ever told. It does have that sequence with the giant Sweetums-like guy, The Ghost Of Christmas Present, the really big guy, who’s really amazing.”
Director: James Bobin
Tagline: ‘2 Frogs, 1 Pig, Epic Mayhem'
Simplest IMDb summary: “Flush with their revival's success, Kermit and his friends are approached by theatrical agent Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) to go on a world tour. Unknown to them, this is all part of a sinister plan by Constantine, the world's most evil frog, to become the greatest thief of all time. After making sure that Kermit is jailed as himself, Constantine impersonates him to use the Muppets' tour as cover for his scheme. While Sam The Eagle and Inspector Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) investigate, the Muppets find their boss seems strangely different as Kermit desperately attempts to escape the gulag to stop the impostor.”
Weirdest bit: Arguably, Inspector Jean Pierre Napoleon’s tiny, tiny, tiny car. In particular, the moment when Fozzie kicks the bottom out of it and walks around the Tower of London. That, or the gulag talent show.
Weirdest cameo: Chloë Grace Moretz, who plays a newspaper delivery girl in a place where there shouldn’t be newspaper delivery girls, and… and… well, it just makes no sense at all. Notable mention: Danny Trejo as a prisoner whose character name is – you guessed it – Danny Trejo.
James Bobin’s thoughts: “Most Wanted should be up towards the top of the weirdness scale, because it’s a very different movie to 2011’s Muppets. This one is much more of an old-school Muppet movie, where it’s about the Muppets from the get-go. It has an emotional component, because it has to, because of the Muppets. You worry about them, and they’re very good at expressing emotion. Piggy and Kermit’s love story is a very long-term thing. But at the same time, it is a caper, and in its nature, more comedic, and that’s what I thought would be fun. I was very wary of making the same film twice.”
Director: Brian Henson
Simplest IMDb summary: “The Muppets are back in action, here in a movie based on a novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson. Kermit and his colleagues battle ruthless pirates. They also share their problem-solving journey on sea to rescue a treasure.”
Weirdest bit: If we put Fozzie talking to “a man who lives in his finger” called Mr. Bibble aside momentarily, it’s probably any time that Long John Silver’s (Tim Curry) lobster-parrot clicks and whistles. The shoulder-based Muppet mash-up is called Polly, and she really is mighty weird. A tip of the cap to the singing Moai statues too, as well as the pig chief, who is called “Spa’am”. Incidentally, his name resulted in Spam’s parent company, The Hormel Foods Corporation, suing The Muppets, but the judge threw out the case, saying: "One might think Hormel would welcome the association with a genuine source of pork."
Weirdest Cameo: Billy Connolly as Billy Bones, the only human character to die in a Muppets movie. Rizzo even says: "He died? And this is supposed to be a kids movie!" Connolly would go on to joke about this proudly in stand-up shows.
James Bobin’s thoughts: “I think it’s okay. It’s not my favourite, but there’s lots of good stuff about it. Lots of nice action it in. It’s hard to rank them!”
Director: Franz Oz
Simplest IMDb summary: “The Muppets graduate from college and decide to take their senior revue on the road. They hit the streets of Manhattan trying to sell their show to producers, finally finding one young and idealistic enough to take their show. After several mishaps and much confusion, things begin to come together for them.”
Weirdest bit: Miss Piggy dreams of what it would have been like to grow up with Kermit in a posh nursery. One wibbly-wobbly dream cut later and several felt infants are crooning at you, clambering over cots, slides and a rocking horse. Everything looks strange, everything sounds strange, and there’s no way you’ll be able to get ‘I’m Always Gonna Love You’ out of your head, ever. Watch the frankly bonkers music video here.
Weirdest cameo: A pre-surgery Joan Rivers works as a department store perfume hawker with Miss Piggy. The pair of them go on a make-up rampage, resulting in much laughter, lipstick everywhere and both getting fired.
James Bobin’s thoughts: “Yes, the Muppet babies are very strange, but they spawned an entire franchise of very successful cartoons, so I don’t know what happened then. Maybe that was part of the motivation to make it, I don’t know!”
Director: Jim Henson
Simplest IMDb summary: “Kermit and Fozzie are newspaper reporters sent to London to interview Lady Holiday, a wealthy fashion designer whose priceless diamond necklace is stolen. Kermit falls in love with her secretary, Miss Piggy. The jewel thieves strike again, and this time frame Miss Piggy. It's up to Kermit and Muppets to bring the real culprits to justice.”
Weirdest bit: As if watching Miss Piggy wearing a bathing suit on a fashion catwalk wasn’t weird enough, the scene quickly turns into a Busby Berkeley fantasy sequence, ending with everyone’s favourite felt pig rising from a swimming pool with several lit sparklers in her hair. See also: Gonzo taking a photograph of a chicken.
Weirdest cameo: John Cleese, fully aged-up with grey hair and a burgundy suit, as the ever-so-posh resident of 17 Highbrow Street.
James Bobin’s thoughts: “Muppet Caper is pretty weird. Fozzie and Kermit reveal that they’re playing characters in a movie. That’s a very meta idea from the very beginning. And they’re twins, which is amazing. It’s never really referred to again, but it’s an amazing idea. They’re completely different species! An amazing, amazing joke just for the writers of the movie, really.”
Director: Tim Hill
Tagline: ‘Space. It’s not as deep as you think’
Simplest IMDb summary: “After Gonzo receives messages from his breakfast cereal, he determines that he is an extra-terrestrial and tries to contact his alien brethren, but is captured by an overzealous secret government agency determined to prove the existence of otherworldly life. It's up to Kermit and the gang to rescue Gonzo and help reunite him with his long-lost family.”
Weirdest bit: There’s fierce competition, but it’s probably the talking sandwich. Close-but-no-cigar'ers include Gonzo getting hit by lightning, Gonzo wrapped in tin foil gatecrashing Miss Piggy’s TV broadcast, Gonzo’s KAP’N Alphabet cereal talking to him, Pepe The Prawn in a tutu, all of Gonzo’s fellow Gonzos and him off The Good Wife giving Miss Piggy a noogie.
Weirdest cameo: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, complete with full brown beard (but bleached yellow ‘tache), as a goon for Jeffrey Tambor.
James Bobin’s thoughts: “Muppets From Space is the most weird. I like it, but it’s a very weird film. It’s a different kind of film from the others. It doesn’t have their own music, it has other people’s.”