Wednesday, November 11, 2009

nostalgia necessities: MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND (1996)

The '70s had The Muppet Movie, the '80s had The Muppets Take Manhattan, and the '90s were thoroughly blessed with the delightfully silly and still genuinely funny Muppet Treasure Island. Following Jim Henson's famous characters through Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, Kermit is Captain Smollett, Miss Piggy is Benjamina Gunn, and Fozzie is Squire Trelawney (and Mr. Bimbo). And they're joined by famous Brits Jennifer Saunders as hefty innkeeper Mrs. Bluveridge, Billy Connolly as the ill-fated Billy Bones, and Tim Curry as the dastardly ship cook Long John Silver. Not to mention the duo miraculous duo of The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat as, what else, themselves. I seem to recall them fondly in the original 19th Century literary classic.

What makes this Muppet outing still enjoyable more than 10 years later (can you believe that?!) isn't just that I remembered many of the words to "(We've Got) Cabin Fever" or that Fozzie the Bear is even more hilarious with a silly wig than without. It's the fact that watching it makes me wonder why on earth children today aren't still enjoying a Muppet movie every couple of years. Sure, the last couple weren't huge box office behemoths, but I find it hard to believe that someone can find more merit in something like a millionth Shrek sequel or a thrown-together Alvin and the Chipmunks bastardized piece of crap. But I digress. The point is that the Muppets were not only fairly wholesome, but (thanks to Statler and Waldorf in particular) they brought an ageless comedy to the table. I mean, any episode of The Muppet Show is still just as funny to me as an adult as it was when I was growing up.

So with their zany antics and liberal plot alterations, what the Muppets did with Treasure Island was one happy trip. They took an otherwise dull string of adaptations of the novel and jazzed it up with a few musical numbers, some colorful puppets with ridiculous voices, and a few pop culture references for the parents. Yo-ho, indeed.

Memorable Scene: The boys - Jim Hawkins, Gonzo, and Rizzo - have their first encounter with Trelawney (a.k.a. Fozzie) and Frank Oz's voice work alone is entertainment enough for an entire movie.

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