It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie is a 2002 NBC television film, directed by Kirk Thatcher and written by Tom Martin and Jim Lewis and stars Whoopi Goldberg, David Arquette, Joan Cusack, the cast of Scrubs and The Muppets. The plot centers on Kermit the Frog who, after losing all hope for saving the Muppet Theatre, is assisted by an angel who shows him a world in which he had never been born. The film is an homage to Frank Capra's 1946 film, It's a Wonderful Life, which has a similar plot.
This was the first Muppet production without the involvement of veteran Muppet performer Frank Oz. Instead, Eric Jacobson performed Oz's characters Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and Animal, marking his feature film debut as those characters. Oz's character Sam Eagle was voiced by Kevin Clash, while John Kennedy provided the puppetry.
Jerry Nelson was ill during filming, so most his characters were puppeteered by others and later dubbed by Nelson in post-production. The exception was Nelson's character Lew Zealand, who was performed by Bill Barretta.
Scooter, performed in the film by Brian Henson, makes his first major appearance since the death of his initial performer, Richard Hunt. Hunt's character Janice was also performed by Henson and has a speaking role for the first time since Hunt's death.
The film contains an original song, "Everyone Matters", performed by Kermit and Gonzo as part of the world in which he had never been born, and then reprised at the end. The film also makes reference to the Muppet classic song "Rainbow Connection", featuring a statue of Kermit in a park, erected in dedication "for the lovers, the dreamers and you".
A snowman named Joe Snow (voiced by Mel Brooks) recounts how the Muppet Theater was going through financial hardship, and the Muppets seeking Kermit the Frog for guidance. Kermit eventually feels he is not useful to anyone and an angel named Daniel (David Arquette) brings this up with his Boss (Whoopi Goldberg) as they review what has gone on with Kermit in the past hours.
Hours earlier, Kermit prepares a Christmas show with his fellow Muppets with Bobo the Bear playing Santa Claus. Kermit is approached by Rachel Bitterman (Joan Cusack), a banker/real estate agent who says that she will foreclose the Muppet Theater if Kermit does not pay her. Pepe the King Prawn leaves the Muppets because he has fallen in love with Bitterman. While trying to raise money to pay Rachel, Kermit tries to find a celebrity to participate in his Christmas play to no avail. Meanwhile, after learning from Pepe that the deadline is midnight, Bitterman changes it to 6:00 p.m. When he sees her with another man however, Pepe leaves her and warns Kermit about the deadline change. Upon learning this, Kermit sends Fozzie to deliver the money to Bitterman. Fozzie confronts a crazed nature-show host (spoofing Steve Irwin), Joe Snow (who gets shot with a tranquilizer by the nature-show host), and a gang of Whos after being dyed green at a Christmas tree lot and mistaken for the Grinch. Fozzie goes through the steam baths and ends up back to normal. When Fozzie eventually makes it to the bank and Bitterman's office, he goes through a gigantic web of burning lasers leading to Bitterman's office several times before finally discovering that he's too late and that he has grabbed the wrong bag containing clothes for the Salvation Army following his incident at the Christmas tree lot.
After witnessing these events, the Boss allows Daniel to help Kermit. When Daniel arrives, and after Kermit wishes he has never been born, he ends up showing Kermit what would have happened if he had not existed. In the world without Kermit, Bitterman has turned the park near the Muppet Theater into a shopping mall called Bitterman Plaza, the Muppet Theater itself has become a nightclub called Club Dot owned by Bitterman, Doc Hopper's French-Fried Frog Legs has become a famous fast-food restaurant, and all of Kermit's friends have fallen into various detrimental situations.
Kermit has Daniel restore him back to his reality and returns to the Muppet Theater. However, Bitterman arrives to shut the theater down and fights with Miss Piggy. Pepe arrives and announces he has made the Muppet Theater into a historical landmark, foiling Bitterman's plan. Embittered and defeated, Bitterman storms out of the Muppet Theater.
Outside, the Muppets and Joe Snow sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".David Arquette as Daniel, an angel who appears to Kermit at Christmas
Joan Cusack as Rachel Bitterman, a spoiled, rich young banker
Matthew Lillard as Luc Fromage, a foppish French choreographer
Whoopi Goldberg as The Boss, the Creator of the Universe
William H. Macy as Glenn, an angel
Mel Brooks as Joe Snow (voice), parodying Sam the Snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Chantal Strand as Nancy Nut-What
Dave "Squatch" Ward as Sally Ann Santa Claus
Steve Whitmire as Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Elvises
Dave Goelz as The Great Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Waldorf, Zoot
Bill Barretta as Pepé the King Prawn, Bobo the Bear, Johnny Fiama, Swedish Chef, Lew Zealand, Howard Tubman, Rowlf the Dog, Elvises
Eric Jacobson as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Yoda, Elvises
Brian Henson as Scooter, Janice, Sal Minella
Kevin Clash as Sam Eagle
John Henson as Sweetums
John Kennedy as Dr. Teeth
Jerry Nelson as Robin the Frog, Statler, Floyd Pepper, Announcer, Crazy Harry, Pops
Allan Trautman as Joe Snow (puppetry only), Eugene the Tuba Player
Additional Muppet Performers: Alice Dinnean, Geoff Redknap, Denise Cheshire, Drew Massey, Adam Behr, and Gord Robertson.Zach Braff as Himself/Dr. John "J.D." Dorian
Sarah Chalke as Herself/Dr. Elliot Reid
Carson Daly as Himself
Snoop Dogg as Himself (scene deleted)
Neil Flynn as Himself/Janitor
Bill Lawrence as Himself
John C. McGinley as Himself/Dr. Perry Cox
Judy Reyes as Herself/Nurse Carla Espinosa
Kelly Ripa as Herself
Joe Rogan as Himself
Molly Shannon as Herself
Robert Smigel as Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog