As little kids, we think of our family as our parents, siblings, and other immediate relatives. Growing up, we begin to realize that family means much more than those related to us. Muppets From Space, released in 1999 by Columbia Pictures and Jim Henson Pictures, sought out the questions of “What is a Gonzo” and how we individually define who is our family is. In the movie, Gonzo attempts to discover his origins after having nightmares of abandonment and rejection. After he and Rizzo the Rat are captured by government officials during his search for identity, Kermit the Frog and the rest of the Muppet gang must save them.
The pivotal moment of the movie is when Gonzo rushes to the beach to meet the arrival of his family. Even though the other Muppets saved him from the government, they still don’t believe him when he says his family is coming. Kermit tells Gonzo, “If you believe that you need to go and meet your alien brothers, then I say… Well, I say we’re going to the beach.
” When Gonzo’s family touches down there is no judgment from them. There is no thought that because he wasn’t raised on their planet that he is not one of them. There is only happiness, as they have searched the universe for him, that can only be expressed through funky disco music. As they begin to sing Kool & The Gang’s, “Celebration”, Gonzo looks around him in awe crying, “That’s my family!” The whole time, the other Muppets are singing and dancing with him, sharing in his jubilation.
Afterward, Gonzo is invited to return to live with his family on his home planet. As he looks back at the other Muppets, they look back in support, hiding any sadness they have to see Gonzo on his continue on his journey.
Thinking back 10+ years later, the film offers a powerful message. Regardless of how we choose to define our families, family is what we make of it. Much of growing up is recognizing that family is an expansive word. Family isn’t always being related by blood or even being related at all. The family you choose can become more important than the family you were raised with. We look for mentors who can act as parents when we crave guidance and friends who can be our siblings. As we go through these different phases in life, we build a system of people wherever we are who support us, care about us, and who guide us. These chosen relationships help us feel grounded and like we don’t have to handle things on our own.