Today! Because I’m not Jim Jimmy Jim Jim Jim Jim, he’s Jim Jimmy Jim Jim Jim Jim –
Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Directed by Brian Henson
Starring Tim Curry (x2), Billy Connolly, Jennifer Saunders, Kevin Bishop, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Bill Barretta, Frank Oz (x2), Kevin Clash, Louise Gold
By wide pronouncement the worst of the big screen Muppet films, Treasure Island gets a hugely unfair rap, in my opinion. If your argument is that the other Muppet movies are of such high caliber that something has to be labeled the worst, okay, I’ll accept that. Because there is little inherently wrong with Treasure Island, especially for hardcore Muppet fans.
Sure, the movie falls squarely on Gonzo and Rizzo to keep moving, a tactic used to such great success a few years prior in Christmas Carol. This time, they tag along with the novel’s Jim Hawkins to meet Long John Silver, get on the boat, get swept up in the mutiny and whatnot, and break into epic musical numbers. Really, the main gripe you could have about this – and Christmas Carol and the 2011 Muppets – is that there aren’t quite enough Muppets. At least Christmas Carol had the wisdom to make Kermit Bob Cratchit, considering Scrooge was a human. This movie takes both the main characters away from the felt gang, so Muppets have to fit into roles wherever they’re left, leaving the film decidedly light on Kermit, Fozzie, and Piggy, to say nothing of Rowlf, the Electric Mayhem, Statler & Waldorf, and the rest of the gang.
But again, I don’t know that this is a reason to denigrate this film all that much. Tim Curry makes a great Long John, and Billy Connolly steals the early part of the movie as Billy Bones, setting the whole adventure in motion. The songs might not be as memorable as in the preceding movies – but hey, at least they did originals, unlike Muppets From Space – but “Cabin Fever” is a minor classic for the franchise. This was the second and last attempt at big screen Muppet adaptations of existing works, with only the TV version of Wizard of Oz in ’05 following in any full length format. I think this is unfortunate too, as while these didn’t make for my favorite films in the series, at least it’s not a continual rehashing of basically the same story in every film, plus the possibilities are endless. In comic books and novels there have been excellent Muppet versions of Snow White, Sherlock Holmes, The Phantom of the Opera, King Arthur and more. Why not make a few of these into features, huh? Come on!
#332 Star Wars Episode I‘s Yoda Frank Oz joins the Two-Timers list – as he was still performing Fozzie, Piggy, etc. in ’96 – along with Long John himself Tim Curry, first turning up here as that sweet transvestite back in #363’s Rocky Horror Picture Show. Spotlight!