A fun time throughout...
MUPPETS HAUNTED MANSION (2021)
There are few things from my childhood that I would consider timeless like The Muppets. Sure, the humor is mostly for children but the whole vibe, artistry, and the memorable and loveable characters make me keep coming back for more Muppet goodness. So here we have Muppets Haunted Mansion which combines The Muppets with the classic Disney ride (not the Eddie Murphy movie). I've honestly never been on the ride myself (Unbelievable, I know) but know quite a bit about it mainly from Disney aficionados that I know so I was kind of excited to see how they'd mix the loveable Muppets with one of the most celebrated rides at Disney. So...let's talk about it.
Muppets Haunted Mansion has a breakneck pace which makes sense considering the brief runtime of around 50 minutes. With that short of a runtime, the special has to quickly go through gags, references, setpieces, and cameos quicker than most Muppet movies. It's certainly not the deepest Muppets movie (yeah, I said that) with it being more of a love letter to the ride it's semi-based on than being another great Muppets movie but director Kirk Thatcher and all of the puppeteers make it a fun and never boring ride while it lasts.
A silly, fun plot starring two Muppets (Gonzo & Pepe) that don't usually get starring roles? I'm down with that! Again, the brisk pace means you don't get a ton of really fun character moments because it needs to pace itself to fit all of the references and sight gags but it still contains a fun message and good vibes. What more could you ask for from a Muppets movie? When you get done watching it, you feel good about yourself. That's worthy of a full point in my eyes.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
All of the puppeteers do as well as they ever have playing these classic characters. I always want to give huge shoutouts to voice actors and puppeteers because I feel like they never do and get overshadowed by the Hollywood actors that are in these movies. They truly are the real stars in these movies and shows.
As usual, you have a good amount of cameos from real-life actors which include John Stamos, Ed Asner (rest in peace), Danny Trejo, and more which are all fun yet brief as you'd expect. The supporting cast however I loved! Will Arnett plays the Ghost Host and does a terrific job acting along with the Muppets. It made me wonder why he's never been in a Muppets film or show before but has been in terrible kids' films instead. He works super well here. Darren Criss as the Caretaker was fun as well and he had what was probably my favorite musical number of the special. But I gotta give huge props to Taraji P. Henson who plays The Bride because she played the role absolutely perfectly! For her brief role, she's both menacing and hilarious to watch as she attempts to seduce Pepe. It might be the highlight of the special actually. Overall, great work from everyone!
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Like most of the special, the effects are cheesy, goofy, and really fun! It almost felt like I was on a ride at Disney which is the perfect feeling to have considering it's based on one. A lot of green screen but leave it to The Muppets to make it work completely. One of my pet peeves is the usage of green screen effects but it totally works with the outlandish and totally bonkers Mansion setting. It looks both high budget and low budget at the same time and I'm sure that was done completely on purpose. This Haunted Mansion sure looks like a fun place to be.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
I enjoyed the musical numbers and the fun score, don't get me wrong with that rating but it's not the most memorable selection of songs out there. I'm actually having a hard time remembering all of the songs as of writing this and it hasn't been 24 hours since I've watched it. I can't fault it too much because I had a good time while watching it and the actors and puppeteers sold each number but I have to be honest and say good but not great.
There's honestly no reason for you not to watch Muppets Haunted Mansion. Especially if you're a huge fan of The Muppets and the ride the special tributes. There's plenty of fun references to the ride, solid gags, great cameos, terrific character usage, decent musical numbers, and a brief and fast-paced runtime. If you love both of these properties then you'd be happy with the final product. A fun time throughout.
MUPPETS HAUNTED MANSION IS NOW STREAMING ON DISNEY+