The Muppet Performance Bracket -- Round One

Well, friends, it was a hard-fought, wild, and chaotic bracket, but the Walt Disney World theme-park restaurants bracket has come to a close. Congratulations to PizzeRizzo, which persevered thanks to an extraordinarily passionate fanbase.

Now, of course, is no time to talk about past brackets. We’ve got a new bracket, right now, right here, and it’s all themed to one of the underdog competitors in a lot of the brackets I’ve unveiled before.

Take a look at the Muppet performance bracket.

And now, as is my wont, I’ll open the floor up to questions. Any questions you may have.

You finally went and did a Muppet bracket, huh?

I sure did.

Now, hang on. If I remember correctly, there’s a fair chunk of Muppet films, shows, etc. that aren’t Disney-owned. Does this really count?

First of all, I’ll be honest: I’ve begun to wonder if I might branch these brackets out to extend beyond Disney. So there’s that. But specific to your point, invisible questioner, you’ll note that all of the actors and actresses in this bracket only appeared in those Muppet films currently owned by the Walt Disney Company. (And these are, I should note, all films you can stream right now on Disney+.)

There’s a lot of actors here whose presence I struggle to recall in a Muppet movie.

I wish I could pull 64 lead and supporting roles from these films, but alas. Lots of cameos.

No, seriously. James McAvoy was in a Muppet movie?

He was.

So, it’s just cameos and performances from live, human people?

Correct.

‘Cause when you said this was a Muppet performance bracket, I kind of figured it would be about the Muppets themselves. Like, say, a best Muppets bracket.

We’ll get there eventually. But not now.

I’m just now realizing you could get more granular with some other performances, like with Pixar movies. Have you ever thought about that?

All right, let’s get into it, folks.

Day 1

(1) Michael Caine, The Muppet Christmas Carol vs. (16) Dave Grohl, The Muppets: Some of these picks require no explanation. Caine, obviously, is one of them.

(8) Celine Dion, Muppets Most Wanted vs. (9) Edgar Bergen, The Muppet Movie: Some of these are harder, at least for me. I really enjoy the last Muppet movie that we got, and I think Dion’s performance is a hoot. But I also appreciate that Edgar Bergen was a formative inspiration for Jim Henson, and that we wouldn’t have the Muppets without Bergen or Charlie McCarthy. But…I go with my gut, and my gut says Dion.

(5) Dom DeLuise, The Muppet Movie vs. (12) Alan Arkin, The Muppets: I gotta go with Bernie, the agent on this one.

(4) Chris Cooper, The Muppets vs. (13) Tom Hiddleston, Muppets Most Wanted: Maniacal laugh. Maniacal laugh! (Cooper. Duh.)

Day 2

(6) Carol Kane, The Muppet Movie vs. (11) Robert Morley, The Great Muppet Caper: I adore The Muppet Movie. I like The Great Muppet Caper. So you’ll see more of me preferring the former than the latter in this bracket. Mith/Myth Kane gets my vote.

(3) Austin Pendleton, The Muppet Movie vs. (14) Til Schweiger, Muppets Most Wanted: Pendleton takes this easily.

(7) Jack Warden, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (10) Jemaine Clement, Muppets Most Wanted: I don’t love the 1981 film, but a good gag is a good gag, and Jack Warden is very good at selling the “Kermit and Fozzie are brothers” gag with his weary replies.

(2) Diana Rigg, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (15) Usher, Muppets Most Wanted: Dame Rigg, obviously. I’m not that crazy.

Day 3

(1) Charles Durning, The Muppet Movie vs. (16) Mickey Rooney, The Muppets: Mickey Rooney was a classic old Hollywood figure, but Doc Hopper is Doc Hopper.

(8) Cloris Leachman, The Muppet Movie vs. (9) Rashida Jones, The Muppets: I’d have voted for Cloris Leachman anyway, but there’s a tinge of sadness with her recent passing. I have fond memories of that line of hers — “This is a movie studio, NOT A ZOO!”

(5) Mel Brooks, The Muppet Movie vs. (12) Kristen Schaal, The Muppets: The stealth choice for best line in the 1979 film is “I detest the surfeit of provincial laughter.” Brooks moves on.

(4) Billy Connolly, Muppet Treasure Island vs. (13) Donald Glover, The Muppets: I’m almost as big a fan of Muppet Treasure Island as I am of The Muppet Movie. Connolly moves on.

Day 4

(6) Paul Williams, The Muppet Movie vs. (11) Jack Black, The Muppets: Two talented musicians here, but I’m going with Jack Black. (Remember: it’s a vote for their performance in the film. Williams’ contribution to the original Muppet movie is incalculable, but that’s only musically, not through his acting.)

(3) Steve Martin, The Muppet Movie vs. (14) Miranda Richardson, Muppets Most Wanted: Steve Martin is going very far in this bracket if I have anything to say about a waiter offering the finest sparkling muscatel of Idaho.

(7) Steven Mackintosh, The Muppet Christmas Carol vs. (10) Emily Blunt, The Muppets: Nothing against Blunt, but I’m sticking with the actor who gets the full role here as Scrooge’s nephew Fred.

(2) Amy Adams, The Muppets vs. (15) Stanley Tucci, Muppets Most Wanted: I like a touch of the ‘Tucch myself, but Amy Adams is delightful, both in general and in a very underwritten role in the 2011 film.

Day 5

(1) Charles Grodin, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (16) Leslie Feist, The Muppets: Grodin. Come on.

(8) James Coburn, The Muppet Movie vs. (9) Elliott Gould, The Muppet Movie: It all comes down to line delivery. “I am the owner” is a simple enough line, and James Coburn treats it like a four-course meal. He wins.

(5) Kevin Bishop, Muppet Treasure Island vs. (12) Ray Liotta, Muppets Most Wanted: Liotta takes this one as a surprise for two reasons. First, you gotta give it up to a celeb who appeared in two separate, wholly unconnected Muppet movies. Second, the sight of him singing and dancing along to “I Hope I Get It” is too good to pass up.

(4) Meredith Braun, The Muppet Christmas Carol vs. (13) Josh Groban, Muppets Most Wanted: Meredith Braun wins this one for “When Love is Gone”, even if it’s one that lives on in deleted-scene form.

Day 6

(6) John Cleese, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (11) Peter Ustinov, The Great Muppet Caper: Cleese. Sorry, Peter.

(3) Ricky Gervais, Muppets Most Wanted vs. (14) Hugh Bonneville, Muppets Most Wanted: I must begrudgingly give this to Ricky Gervais, who I am generally not a fan of but who works well in this specific role.

(7) Richard Pryor, The Muppet Movie vs. (10) Jim Parsons, The Muppets: Richard Pryor saying “Why not get…both?” should be a meme. He wins.

(2) Jason Segel, The Muppets vs. (15) Tony Bennett, Muppets Most Wanted: Segel wins this, because…I mean, he kind of has to.

Day 7

(1) Tim Curry, Muppet Treasure Island vs. (16) James McAvoy, Muppets Most Wanted: This is a Tim Curry fansite. Hello.

(8) Milton Berle, The Muppet Movie vs. (9) Bob Hope, The Muppet Movie: Two old-school legends, but I am sticking with Berle largely because he’s playing a character, and not just a vague version of himself.

(5) Jennifer Saunders, Muppet Treasure Island vs. (12) Telly Savalas, The Muppet Movie: How does she do that? (Sorry, Telly.)

(4) Orson Welles, The Muppet Movie vs. (13) Sarah Silverman, The Muppets: Orson Welles cannot be beat, at least in this matchup.

Day 8

(6) Peter Falk, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (11) Danny Trejo, Muppets Most Wanted: Columbo always gets his man. Always.

(3) Ty Burrell, Muppets Most Wanted vs. (14) Tom Hollander, Muppets Most Wanted: I want to give it to Hollander, but that seems unfair considering he has fewer words of dialogue than there are in this sentence. Burrell gets it.

(7) Madeline Kahn, The Muppet Movie vs. (10) Zach Galifianakis, The Muppets: Madeline Kahn was a national treasure, and I cannot vote against her.

(2) Tina Fey, Muppets Most Wanted vs. (15) Lady Gaga, Muppets Most Wanted: Tina gets it. For now.

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