Sunday, September 28, 2014

Family Movie Night: Muppet Treasure Island

Title: Muppet Treasure Island
Director: Brian Henson
Original Release: 1996
Choice: Purple Penguin's
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
via Muppet Wiki
As the title would suggest, Muppet Treasure Island is based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure novel.  It was the second Muppet feature film after the death of Jim Henson in 1990.  To me, it's one of the weaker Muppet movies but due to my devotion to the franchise, anything less than a rating of 4 is unthinkable.



The biggest difference for me between this viewing and my first is the fact that I have since read the book.  The "good guys" in Stevenson's story - that is, the gentleman sailors who unexpectedly find themselves pitted against Long John Silver and his gang - are portrayed more or less as idiots in the book.  Thus, casting them as goofy Muppets works pretty well.  Mind you, most of the pirates on Long John's side are felted, too.  But the success of any Muppet movie is dependent upon the buy-in of the human cast.  Long John is the key role and in a master stroke, Tim Curry was cast in the part.  Billy Connolly and Jennifer Saunders also appear.  Kevin Bishop is the protagonist, young Jim Hawkins.  The only other human of note is Jessica Hamilton, Brian Henson's wife, who has a memorable cameo as Big-Fat-Ugly-Bug-Faced-Baby-Eating O'Brien.


I think I have fallen asleep both times I have watched the movie, though I missed different parts each time.  There's really nothing wrong with the film but it doesn't maintain the same consistently goofy energy as others in the series.  The same is true for 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol but that movie's adherence to the source material more than makes up for it.  Treasure Island's music is, it must be said, eye-roll inducing, especially Jim's songs.  But it's still the Muppets and Muppets are wonderful.

*****

My Rating System:

5 = The best of the best.  These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films.  They're fine.  Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it.  It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film.  An insult to the art form.

30 comments:

  1. Great review. I haven't seen this Muppet Movie (my favorite, aside from the one with Rainbow Connection - forget the title) is Christmas Carol. I don't see how they could ever beat the book. Starts with a bang, goes excruciatingly slowly until you're on the ship and have just realized that it is being manned by the crew of the worst pirate in recent history. And THEN you learn that jolly Long John Silver is the worst of them all, living or dead.

    But I digress. thank you for the review.

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    1. The one to which you refer is the original "The Muppet Movie."

      LJS is the best part of the book, though. The story is always most interesting when he's around.

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  2. This is the only Muppet movie I haven't seen since it falls in the time I believed the Muppets would never be the same again. Your review has convinced me to give it a try Squid.

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  3. You know, I think I never actually saw this one. I don't know why.

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    1. I have no idea why I missed it in the theaters, actually. I was going to loads of movies in 1996.

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    2. That's probably why I missed it. Not a big year for movies for me.

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    3. I was in Minnesota that year. February was bitterly cold, even by their standards. That might have had something to do with it for me.

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  4. Actually, I thought this was one of the better ones. Along with The Muppet Christmas Carol. I've liked the last two Muppet movies but would rather see them do more based on books like these.

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    1. There's plenty of room for both. Even before they had their own show, the Muppets were doing fairy tale adaptations and the like. That's part of the beauty of the franchise. You can put those characters wherever you want: Dickensian London, the high seas, the planet Koozebane, anything.

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    2. The planet Koozebane.... hahahahahaha
      love it !

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  5. I'm always game for the Muppets. Although someone has to realize that "Rainbow Connection" happens about once a lifetime.

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    1. That really is a magical opening scene - one of the very best, in fact.

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  6. Awwww The Muppets, Tim Curry, Jennifer Sanders, Billy Connolly
    Perfect !
    The only way to make it better would be adding Joanna Lumley and Dawn French.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. An AbFab Muppet movie! Now that would be fun!

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  7. Sometimes all it takes to improve a story is add a crazy lawyer character to the crew, like when Melvin Belli conquered a planet and took over the Enterprise. Worth another star at least.

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    1. ... You're a post ahead of me, sir! Sneaky fella...

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  8. I liked the Muppets best in the Muppet Show and in The Brementown Musicians; that's hilarious.

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    1. The '70s were the heyday, no doubt about it. I hope the movies are enough to inspire new generations to seek out the old Henson magic.

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  9. What a thoughtful post! I am a huge Muppets fan. I used to love when my parents let me stay up until the Muppets were on. Since the 80s I have watched/rewatched many of the movies. :) Awesome review!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks, Jess! I, too, remember those tender years when being allowed to stay up to watch the Muppets was a big deal.

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  10. I don't know how I missed this one. I don't think I've even heard of it before when I love The Muppets.

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    1. As with Muppets Take Manhattan, it's a movie for the devoted. I'm not sure this would be the film to turn anyone on to the franchise.

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  11. I missed this one! I think I was in college when it came out. I did see a couple of Muppet movies when I was a kid, though.

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    1. I missed it in theaters. In fact, it wasn't until fairly recently that I finally watched it for the first time.

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  12. I love the muppets. It's the one kids' movie I actually enjoy to watch with kids. All the muppet movies were big hits at Casa Cherdo.

    And, how about Tim Curry? Did anyone who watched Rocky Horror predict that he would turn up in a zillion movies and more than a few kid flicks (like Annie, etc.)?

    Thanks for a great post, Squidamus.

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    1. And yet, there are certain roles out there for which he's gotta be at the top of everybody's list. The greatest character actor of his generation? He's had an impressive stage career, too.

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  13. Okay, so the first thing I noticed was that you gave it 4 stars, which made me think maybe I'd missed something with this one. But you fell asleep both times watching it? :D Unswerving 4-star devotion, eh? Hats off to Henson. (Which I gladly tip.)

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    1. I know it's not their best film. But I also know I'd happily watch it again. Maybe I'll even stay awake next time!

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