Muppets Haunted Mansion is now available to stream on Disney+. This new special shares a Halloween story of the Muppets where Gonzo is spending the night in a Haunted Mansion with Pepe the Prawn tagging along. Gonzo has spent his life doing daredevil stunts and has no fear of visiting the Haunted Mansion. However, could that change as he goes through the humorous and haunted halls of the Haunted Mansion? This is what will be discovered in Muppets Haunted Mansion, an instant Halloween and Muppets classic (in my humble opinion)!
The story for Muppets Haunted Mansion was exactly what one would expect, and there is nothing wrong with that. The setup is fairly straightforward and a bit zany, as one would expect from the Muppets. As it progresses, Gonzo and Pepe make their way through the Haunted Mansion (which has been inspired by all four of Disney’s Haunted Mansions around the globe) and discover the secret behind the mansion. It isn’t what one would expect initially but also makes complete sense. As they take this journey, there are many references that harken back to The Muppet Show and also the Haunted Mansion attractions. Thankfully, these aren’t just thrown in for a cheap gag but the gags actually are a part of the story and helps move things forward. The conclusion of the story is heartwarming and fulfilling and leaves the viewer happy and satisfied.
Muppets Haunted Mansion is a very enjoyable program to watch. It appears that great care went into making a show that looks and feels like a classic Muppet special. This included some well-used puppetry techniques that were originally seen in The Muppet Show. Now, decades later those techniques look better than ever! Yes, there are a couple of moments that some of the settings seemed a little digital. However, overall Muppets Haunted Mansion looks and feels like something from The Muppets should. It feels real. It feels like The Muppets. It doesn’t feel too polished or synthetic. A wonderful balance between technology and puppetry was reached.
The focal point of Muppets Haunted Mansion really is Gonzo. This was such an excellent choice because as much as we know and love Gonzo, there apparently is always something more to learn and love about him! His sidekick in the special is Pepe the Prawn. The two of them together were hilarious and had great chemistry. If the two of them hadn’t worked together, this show wouldn’t have worked. However, they did! I will also say that both of them and the entire ensemble felt very much like classic Muppets. Watching the various characters act and interact with each other, it felt like it was written and made decades ago. Part of this was the energy and roles of the characters. Part of this was the dialogue. Each character felt authentic to the characters that we have known and loved. There is simply an unquantifiable feeling that they were having fun together and the spirit of The Muppets was present while doing it. This hasn’t always been hit in previous years and it was a welcome return to see Kermit and the gang feeling like just that.
One of the highlights of Muppets Haunted Mansion is the songs that are included. There are three new original songs for the show. This includes Rest in Peace, Life Hereafter, and Tie the Knot Tango. Each of these songs are fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. They also have that Muppet sound and feel. Rest in Peace is sung by Darren Chris primarily and also connects to some of the stories behind the Haunted Mansion. It also has a little bit of Grim Grinning Ghosts included in it. Life Hereafter is sung by many Muppets and also Will Arnett and sets up the way the Haunted Mansion works. It’s fun and almost had a Mel Brooks musical feel to it and reminded me a little of Young Frankenstein, the Broadway musical. Tie the Knot Tango has Taraji P. Henson and Pepe the Prawn as a duet that also unveils Constance Hatchaway’s methods with men. The final song included is Dancing in the Moonlight with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. This was one of the most fun renditions of this song that I’ve ever heard and I absolutely loved it. The entire soundtrack and music for Muppets Haunted Mansion really was enjoyable. I would not complain if there were more offerings like this in the future.
Leading up to watching Muppets Haunted Mansion I really tried to keep my expectations in check. I always love more Muppets but their batting average hasn’t been perfect in recent years. However, within minutes of the show starting, I found myself laughing and smiling. The team that brought this program to Disney+ nailed it. The humor was spot on and felt like classic Muppets. The characters also felt right as did the music. The cameos added to the show and were very well done. Sure, there were flaws but I don’t care because the good by far outweighed any of the minor issues that I might have with it. I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of a new Muppet renaissance that continues on the trajectory Muppets Haunted Mansion has started. I have to take my hat off to the cast and crew of Muppets Haunted Mansion and thank them for a wonderful Halloween gift! Hop on Disney+ and watch it today, and tomorrow, and then again the next day! You will find more Easter Eggs each time and also more laughs. It will also hopefully lead to more Muppets in the future!
Thank you to executive producers Bill Barretta, Andrew Williams, David Lightboy, and Leigh Slaughter along with director Kirk Thatcher and all of those at The Muppets Studio who brought this to the screen.