Review: Muppets Haunted Mansion (Disney+)

By Christian DiMartino

You know what I love? The Muppets. I love The Muppets movies and the characters and yada yada. Clearly there is still an affection for them out there because every few years or so Disney or some other studio look for something for them to do. Someone like Miss Piggy simply cannot rest. You know what else I love? Disney World. You know what I love at Disney World? The Haunted Mansion. So obviously the marriage of all of these ideas should’ve been a slam dunk with Disney+’s TV special, Muppets Haunted Mansion. When I heard about this, just a few weeks before it’s release, the hype was real. Alas, the hype wasn’t worth it.

It seemed strange. The release came and… nobody was talking about it. Probably because there wasn’t much to talk about in the first place. Muppets Haunted Mansion had every right to be a blast. The Muppets mixed with the ride, how could it lose? Well, the first disappointment of this TV special is that Muppets Haunted Mansion is under an hour long. With that, everything here feels undercooked and rushed. They had the celebrities aboard, they had the concept, and they couldn’t even muster up an hour? Why did they bother?

I nearly didn’t write about this because… it’s not really a movie. I think I felt compelled to though on behalf of The Muppets, who deserve a much smarter, funnier vehicle. One similar to 2011’s The Muppets, which former Ms. Piggy actor Frank Oz deemed too smarmy, but it at least had fun and gave them something to do. Muppets Haunted Mansion feels as if it never really had a development stage. Disney clearly wanted to do something with The Muppets, and they didn’t care what it was, so they threw this together. Why didn’t they make an actual movie though? Or… was this the movie? Also, Kermit the Frog sounds… really weird here. Like I know that voice actors have come and gone, but this is not Kermit the Frog.

The… special (?) follows Gonzo the Great and some prawn named… I honestly forget, as they are on their way to a spooky party at the haunted mansion. Was Rizzo the Rat unavailable? I digress. Anyways, the host of the party is played by Will Arnett, who appears to be having a bit of fun. Basically both characters are taken through the iconic moments of the ride, multiple Muppets appear as characters in the ride. By the time you sneeze, the movie is nearly over, and the Prawn is engaged to be married to a ghost played by Taraji P. Henson, who might be the saving grace here.

So… yeah, I don’t have a lot to say, because there isn’t really much material here in the first place. Besides that as a Muppet devotee, Muppets Haunted Mansion is something of a thudding disappointment. With the cast (which also includes Darren Criss, Danny Trejo, and the late Ed Asner) and The Muppets and the concept, this could’ve been a ball. The result is a movie that feels as if it were thrown together at the last second. It looks the part, and there is a few one-liners that got a giggle. Not to mention, Henson (Taraji P., not any member of the Jim Henson family) is fun to watch. But this feels like a special where they basically just wanted to use The Muppets in some sort of property, and they just sorta whipped this movie up on the fly. It was probably made in the span of two weeks.

Over the last 10 years or so, since The Muppets, which wasn’t too financially successful, it seems as if Disney hasn’t known what to do with them. They have given them a few movies and a few TV shows, but none of them really achieved liftoff. I’m not sure what their plans are for them in the future, but seeing as The Muppets can be utterly hilarious, hopefully they find their footing again and return with a smarter bang. Here they appear to just be thrown on screen without much to really do. Oh well, better luck next time. Oh yeah, and next time, find a proper Kermit. Seriously, that was weird.

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