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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Muppet Treasure Island

Sticking with my Treasure Island theme, in 1996 the story got the Muppets treatment, with Kermit the Frog and the gang being inserted into the story alongside human actors, most prominently Tim Curry as Long John Silver. Ostensibly for kids, it also has a Mad Magazine parody thing going, with contemporary anachronisms and wink-wink humor. Unfortunately, it's a little wan in that department, with some forgettable songs that stop the movie dead in its tracks.

The story has the same framework, with an old buccaneer named Billy Bones (Billy Connolly) bunking at an inn where Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) works. When the old salt up and dies, Jim gets the treasure map, and along with his companions Gonzo and Rizzo, sails to find the booty. Fozzie Bear is Squire Trelawney, here played as a half-wit who has an imaginary friend living in his finger, and Dr. Bunsen is Dr. Livesey (unably assisted by Beaker).

To get Miss Piggy involved, they've made Ben Gunn, the marooned pirate, into Benjamina Gunn, who was jilted by Captain Smollett (Kermit). I've never been fond of Miss Piggy's obnoxiousness, and it doesn't work here, as she has become a Colonel Kurtz-like leader of primitives (and just how did an elephant manage to get on a Caribbean island?).

This might be passable fare for very small children. Curry is terrific, and sometimes in his singing voice he gives that little quaver that makes you remember Frank N. Furter. Most of the jokes, though, are very bad, but there was inspired bit of humor that made me laugh. When they are pulling things out of Billy Bones sea chest, one of them is a copy of Henry Kissinger's book Diplomacy. I just love the randomness of that. And who can't help but laugh at a few seconds of the Swedish chef?

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