Streaming on Disney+, and arriving just in time for the spooky season, comes a new Halloween-themed streaming event film starring everyone’s furry puppety pals, the Muppets, and a ton of Hollywood cameos in Muppets Haunted Mansion. This is the first Muppets special for Disney + exclusively, following in the footsteps of other Made For TV specials like A Muppets Family Christmas and Muppets Wizard of Oz, and as such runs under an hour in length.
Gonzo and Pepe (voiced by Dave Goelz and Bill Barretta respectively) arrive at a haunted mansion. They got an invitation because of the 100 anniversary of the disappearance of Gonzo’s hero The Great Maguffin. They hear an ominous warning from their limo driver (Yvette Nicole Brown). She has never had to come back to the mansion to pick anybody up after they have arrived. And the Ghost Host (Wil Arnett) takes the pair into the house and gives them a warning. If they do not escape by daybreak they will become trapped in the house forever. While exploring the house the pair run across cameoing celebrities and familiar-looking ghosts of the Muppet kind.
This one aims squarely at the little ones, as the ‘twists’ are insanely predictable and the scares aren’t very scary at all. But sadly what the Muppets Haunted Mansion misses the most is the camaraderie between the Muppets themselves. The story mainly revolves around Gonzo and Pepe as Gonzo becomes enthralled with the surroundings while Pepe is seduced by a malevolent spirit, and all the rest of the Muppets are relegated to basic cameos, and the story suffers a bit from this. As with all of these types of films as well, many familiar faces also pop in. Amongst the most noticeable is Darren Criss as the Caretaker. There’s Alfonso Ribero, Jeannie Mai, Chrissy Metz, and the late great Ed Asner (whom the film is dedicated to) all playing singing ghosts.
Speaking of the singing, only Criss’ number really pops as it’s a fun little intro ditty, but the rest of the music just falls flat. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem try to pull off a cover of “Dancing in the Moonlight”. But that sadly doesn’t work because it fails to live up to the unique energy and impact the original carries. It’s simply not an easy song to cover.
Muppets die-hards will obviously find stuff to revel in here. And there are some funny jokes and sight gags that I simply don’t want to spoil here for anyone. But in the end, this certainly carries a feel of ‘second-tier’ Muppets material. But second-tier Muppets are still better than a lot of other people’s best attempts. And families cant sure do much worse than killing an hour with this around Halloween this year.
- Rated: TV-PG
- Genre: Comedy, Family, Musical
- Release Date: 10/8/2021
- Directed by: Kirk R. Thatcher
- Starring: Alfonso Ribero, Chrissy Metz, Craig Robinson, Danny Trejo, Darren Criss, Ed Asner, Jeannie Mai, John Stamos, Sasheer Zamata, Taraji P. Henson, Wil Arnett, Yvette Nicole Brown
- Produced by: Andrew Williams, Bill Barretta, Chelsea DeVincent, David Lightbody, Kelly Younger, Leigh Slaughter, Samantha Amoros
- Written by: Bill Barretta, Kelly Younger, Kirk R. Thatcher
- Studio: The Muppets Studio, Walt Disney Studios