Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Muppet Treasure Island (1996)

Aargh, there's a generous bounty for landlubbers who take to the sea with Muppet Treasure Island.

The fifth Muppets theatrical release offers plenty of slapstick, clever dialogue and some amazing looking puppets. Muppet Treasure Island may also qualify as one of the few, if not only, films to feature a tender ballad with our lovers hanging upside down waiting to imminently plummet to their deaths. That would be Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy when they sing Love Led Us Here.


Robert Louis Stevenson's 19th century classic finds Muppets in almost all of the major roles. There's Capt. Abraham Smolleff (Kermit), Squire Trelawney (Fozzie Bear), Samuel Arrow (Sam the Eagle) and Benjamina Gunn (Miss Piggy) sharing the plank with veteran actor Tim Curry (Long John Silver). Curry is a hoot as the one major flesh and blood character in this 1996 release.

There's plenty of extra touches added to the story about an orphan looking for treasure and the pirate who offers to be his father figure.


Dr. Teeth and his band, complete with Animal on drums, keep popping up performing at various gigs. Just try and find another pirate movie with a romantic sax solo.

Statler and Waldorf, the two old guys who sat in the balcony and heckled each performance of The Muppet Show, and the Swedish Chef are put to creative use on board Kermit's ship and a pack of wild boars.

The seven songs by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, including Professional Pirate and Sailing for Adventure, are a hoot. Cabin Fever, complete with spotlights shining into the night sky and a mishmash of musical genres, is a standout.


Keep an attentive ear to all the quips that get tossed out during the film's 99-minute running time (Kermit: "I'm a frog, you know, slippery hands." "Before we lose our tempers, we always count to 10," is a line from Professional Pirate.)

What's odd about Muppet Treasure Island is the lack of celebrity cameos. Past efforts, such as The Muppet Movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan and The Great Muppet Caper, have featured everyone from Peter Ustinov, Art Carney and Gregory Hines to Bob Hope, Trevor Howard and Joan Rivers. Here, Curry is the man and he has great fun in the role.

No brief appearances from big stars is a minor quibble. Muppet Treasure Island is great fun with enough laughs to keep the kids, and the folks, amused.

RATING: 8/10

FUN FACT: Joan Rivers was a perfume saleswoman in The Muppets Take Manhattan. She appears at a perfume launch in The Smurfs. Coincidence?

No comments: