Australian Council on Children and the Media

Muppet Movie, The

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Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 6 (violence and frightening scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Muppet Movie, The
  • a review of Muppet Movie, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 April 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to violence and frightening scenes.
Children aged 5–6 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and frightening scenes.
Children over the age of 6 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Muppet Movie, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

When Kermit the Frog (voiced by Jim Henson) runs into a Hollywood movie agent (Dom DeLuise) while singing in a swamp, it sparks dreams of becoming a Hollywood star! In search of an audition, Kermit journeys across the country picking up new Muppet friends along the way. Meanwhile, dastardly restaurant owner Doc Hopper (Charles Durning) chases Kermit and his friends in the hopes of exploiting Kermit’s talents for singing, dancing, and making jokes, to help the restaurant market its specialty, ‘fried frog legs’.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Friendship; Adventure.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A man is thrown out of a bar through a pair of saloon doors – He is unhurt.
  • A man threatens Fozzie Bear with a broken bottle in response to a ‘fat’ joke.
  • A man dressed as a cowboy shoots a gun in the direction of Fozzie Bear as a heckle toward his comedy set – The gunshot does not hit Fozzie Bear.
  • People throw fruit and vegetables at Kermit and Fozzie Bear’s dance routine.
  • Miss Piggy knocks out several men using martial arts skills (e.g., punching and kicking).

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • An alligator swims toward a man in a boat who paddles away in fright – This scene is more comedic than frightening, but the alligator puppet used is life-like and the snapping of its jaws may scare very young children.
  • Kermit accidentally rides his bike into a steamroller but jumps out of the way – The set up for this builds tension and it is not immediately clear that Kermit has jumped to freedom.
  • Angry men at a bar attack Kermit and Fozzie Bear and toss them around (their facial expressions may distress young children) – Kermit is thrown onto a ceiling fan and whirled around.
  • The Muppet, Animal, is depicted as deranged and animalistic and requires a chain to keep him at bay – His constant yelling might distress young children.
  • A menacing-looking frog ‘assassin’ may frighten very young children.
  • The Muppet, Animal, takes growth pills and becomes the size of a building and scares away the villains chasing the Muppets.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Kermit is asked to do TV commercials for a company that sells fried frog legs – Kermit is distressed by this idea which might worry younger children.
  • The Muppets are involved in a car chase with men who want to capture them – This is not particularly frightening but may worry younger children.
  • Miss Piggy and Kermit are kidnapped and almost have their brains scrambled by an evil German scientist.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Variety Magazine
  • Studebaker car
  • Coca-Cola.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • An attractive woman flirts with Kermit by asking him to buy her a drink.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The Miss Piggy puppet has visibly defined cleavage.
  • Miss Piggy and Kermit kiss during a dream sequence.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Alcohol consumption – beer and wine.
  • Tobacco consumption – cigars.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “Pest hole”.

In a nutshell

The Muppet Movie is a classic children’s film, featuring beloved Muppet favourites including Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, the Great Gonzo, and Beaker. While released in 1979 and potentially dated in some of the references (e.g., Hare Krishna) and celebrity guests (e.g., Richard Pryor and Orson Welles), this film is a fun, funny, sing-along journey that children are likely to still find entertaining. While not suitable for children under 5, this film is likely to appeal to families with children aged 6 and above, with parental guidance for ages 5-6 (due to some potentially frightening scenes).

The main message from this movie is that you should not only follow your own dreams, but help others to follow theirs – working together helps everyone achieve their goals.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Teamwork.
  • Friendship.
  • Standing up for your beliefs (Kermit stands firm against helping the restaurant owner advertise his fried frog legs).
  • Perseverance.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Making jokes at the expense of other people:
    • Fozzie Bear starts to make a joke about ‘fat people’ but stops when he is threatened by a heavy-set sailor – Children may need help understanding how others may feel if made fun of for their appearance or other personal attributes.
  • Guns are seen and used frequently throughout the film – The seriousness of guns and their consequences could be discussed with children.

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