It is no suprise that "Muppet Treasure Island" appeals to children.
The surprise is that it appeals to adults as well. While kids
like the activity and silliness, adults like the gags and jokes.
Even the many songs, written by 1960's popsmiths Barry Mann and
Cynthia Weil, are good. Sometimes the silliness gets out of hand,
and the plot gets left out to dry. But there's always a good laugh
ahead to steady the course.
Billy Bones (Billy Connelly) is telling his tall tale of buried treasure
for the nth time to his fellow tavern-dwellers. They've heard
it all before, and no one believes him. Also there is young busboy
Jim (Kevin Bishop), who dreams of a life at sea like his father.
A blind pirate gives Billy the black spot, which is a pirate's
death sentence. In the commotion, the tavern burns down. Billy soon
dies, but not before delivering his long-hidden treasure map to Jim.
Out of work and seeking treasure, Jim convinces a rich but dimwit
bear (Fozzy), who believes that a man lives in his finger, to fund
his treasure hunt.
Soon Jim is cabin boy on a ship sailing for the buried treasure.
Kermit the Frog is captain, with a green eagle as first mate.
Unfortunately, Fozzy has taken the advice of the cook, Long John
Silver (Tim Curry, who relishes the role) and stocked the crew
with pirates and scoundrels.
Fearing mutiny, Kermit tells the pirate crew to explore the
treasure island for provisions, planning to strand them on
the island. His plan is foiled when the pirates kidnap Jim
and take him with them. Some pirates remain on the ship and take
control of it as well. The treasure is found, and poor Kermit
is tied up and hung upside down over a cliff with Miss Piggy,
who was hanging with pig savages on the island. We learn that
Miss Piggy is a very bad singer. This section of the movie
is a bit muddled, but kids won't care about the plot anyway.
But fortune smiles on the captain and his loyal followers,
and the mutiny ultimately fails. The treasure is now safely
aboard ship and the pirates are in chains: but Long John manages
to free himself and row off with the treasure on a leaky lifeboat.
Be sure to fast forward past the closing credits to learn his
ultimate fate, and to hear a bad joke.
Muppets actors both large and small mix freely with the human actors.
Things that don't belong in pirate movies, such as a Henry Kissinger
book, a french cook, tourists in Hawaiian shirts, cheerleaders,
a jazz band, and quotes from "On the Waterfront" and "Apocalypse Now"
are there to remind us that nothing is to be taken seriously.
All your favorite muppets from the old syndicated TV show are
there, except the piano-playing dog, who isn't missed anyway.
Copyright © 1996 Brian Koller