billy connolly, brian henson, disney, film review, jennifer saunders, jim henson, movie review, muppet treasure island, muppets, robert louis stevenson, the muppets, tim curry, treasure island, walt disney
(If this is your first time on this blog, I ask you to read my About page first! You can find a link to it at the top left-hand corner of this blog. Thanks!)
It’s about time that I reviewed another Disney Muppets film! After adapting Charles Dickens’ famous Christmas tale, the Muppets are now tackling Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling adventure! Do I think this is an improvement over The Muppet Christmas Carol which I found to be fair, at best, or do I think this is a film that should have been buried along with the treasure? Read to find out!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The movie opens with an incredibly catchy and even somewhat dark song sequence entitled Shiver My Timbers.
It gives the backstory of the book, Treasure Island, showing us the story of the pirate Captain Flint and the treasure that he’s buried. Captain Flint has made a treasure map which shows the location of the treasure, but now that he’s dead, the map has been missing and nobody knows where it is.
How do we know this? Well, we know this from an ex-pirate named Billy Bones, played by Billy Connolly. He’s staying at an inn run by a Mrs. Bluebridge, played by Jennifer Saunders, which is visited by humans and Muppets alike. Every day, he’s telling the tale of Captain Flint to the people at the inn even though everyone’s pretty much memorized the story by now.
The tale catches the attention of a young boy who works at the inn, named Jim Hawkins, played by Kevin Bishop. He dreams of having a different, more adventurous life alongside his two Muppet friends, Gonzo and Rizzo. This dream is showcased in the song, Something Better.
But, their dreams are put on hold when it’s discovered that some of Billy Bones’ old crewmates are coming to the inn in order to kill him. You see, Billy Bones was part of Captain Flint’s original crew and was the one who ran away with the treasure map, which is why he knew so much about the story. Unwilling to share the map with his crewmates, they are all now coming to kill him for it. He gives the map to young Jim before dying and warns Jim to beware a “one-legged man”. It’s not long after that Billy Bones dies and the crewmates ransack the inn. Luckily, Jim manages to escape with Gonzo and Rizzo and together they decide to go find the treasure themselves.
They ride into town the next morning and consult a Squire Trelawney, played by Fozzie Bear, to verify the authenticity of the treasure map as well as to supply them with a ship. He’s all for it and finances the voyage himself. But, he’s not as sane as you might think as he talks to a man he believes lives in his finger.
Anyway, Jim and the gang trust Squire Trelawney and after a while, they’re ready to set sail aboard the Hispaniola. The crew has been picked for the journey and the captain is a Captain Smollett, played by Kermit the Frog.
Jim and the gang explore the ship and soon meet and befriend the cook, Long John Silver, played by the stellar Tim Curry. Long John Silver seems to be a nice enough man whom Jim very quickly takes to as a sort of father figure. But, when Jim finds out that Long John has one leg, he remembers the warning of the late Billy Bones.
This puts Jim somewhat on his guard, but he’s also somewhat sure that Long John couldn’t possibly be whom Billy Bones was talking about. Anyway, the voyage is soon underway with a song entitled, Sailing for Adventure.
But, Captain Smollett is a bit worried about the apparent thug-like appearance of the crew and wonders who hired them. Squire Trelawney says that the Mr. Bimbo in his finger hired the crew on good advice from Long John Silver. This puts Captain Smollett to have a growing suspicion of Long John and the crew, but still goes ahead with the voyage.
As the voyage goes on, Long John and Jim start to bond and get more friendly. Long John uses this to his advantage and tries innocently to learn from Jim about the alleged treasure map that he and the crew have heard of. Jim doesn’t give anything away though, but he and Long John still maintain friends.
Not long after, Rizzo and Gonzo get kidnapped by three of the crewmen who taken them below decks to torture them to spill the beans about where the treasure map is. Thankfully, the three are caught and Captain Smollett confines them to the brig aboard the ship. He then takes Jim into his cabin and orders that Jim give him the treasure map for safekeeping. Jim acquiesces and Captain Smollett locks it away in his safe.
Long John soon learns about the map being in the safe and knows the keys are with the no-nonsense first mate, Mr. Arrow, played by Sam the Eagle. Thankfully, Mr. Arrow is a bit gullible and Long John convinces him to go test out a rowboat in open water to discover if it’s seaworthy. He offers to hold Mr. Arrow’s hat and keys for him to which Mr. Arrow accepts.
Long John then frees the trio locked in the brig and order them to go steal the map the next day while Captain Smollett is mourns Mr. Arrow’s apparent death. The trio succeed in stealing the map, but Jim overhears them talking to Long John about planning to lay mutiny now that Captain Smollett has reached the treasure island. Jim rushes to tell the captain about all this and Captain Smollett subtly asks Long John to go ashore with the crew to explore the island. The captain’s plan is to maroon Long John and his crew on this island for a year and then pick them up afterwards when the fight is out of them.
But, Long John is suspicious about having all this “on a silver platter”, if you will. He has the treasure map and the captain is literally asking him to go on the island by themselves. It seems too good to be true, so he kidnaps Jim and takes him to the island with them putting a clink in Captain Smollett’s plans. It’s then that Captain Smollett, Gonzo, and Rizzo head to the island to save Jim and stop Long John. Unfortunately, they’re captured by some native indigenous pig tribe on the island led by a Benjamina Gunn, played by Miss Piggy.
You see, she and Captain Smollett used to be a couple many years ago until he left her at the altar and she later was marooned on this island by Captain Flint and made leader of these pigs. She’s still quite angry with Captain Smollett for what he did to her, but he apologizes and tries to get them out of this predicament.
Meanwhile, Long John and his crew find that the treasure chests at the location on the map are empty. They then go to Benjamina demanding she tell them where the treasure is located. She gives up the location when Long John threatens Captain Smollett’s life.
The climax of the film has to do with all our good guys including Mr. Arrow (who reaches the island after rowing for as long as he’s been rowing for) and Jim (who has escaped the pirates’ clutches) having a big fight against the pirates resulting in the pirates’ defeat. Long John surrenders to Captain Smollett and the captain takes them all back on ship as prisoners. He also takes the treasure on board with him.
That night, Long John manages to break free and sneak away onto a rowboat with some of the treasure. Jim sees this, but allows Long John to go while saying that he never wants to see him again. Long John rows away, but the rowboat he’s chosen ends up being faulty and soon starts to sink resulting in Long John swimming towards the treasure island once again. As for Jim, Rizzo, and Gonzo, well, it’s safe to assume that they’ll continue having adventures together.
And that’s Muppet Treasure Island! Although some people may disagree with me, I think it is a better film than The Muppet Christmas Carol!
The film is just made very well trying to adapt a classic tale to fit Muppets standards. It’s a joy seeing how they can get all the Muppets into the film as well as seeing which roles they cast them in. Fozzie Bear fits as the squire, Kermit obviously is meant to be the captain, Miss Piggy would have to be a female Benjamin Gunn, etc.
The performances by the Muppets performers are too amazing to praise, as always! And Tim Curry plays the part of Long John Silver amazingly! He plays it like if it were a delicious meal and he’s enjoying every single bite that he takes! The only problem that I might have with the acting is that I didn’t think Kevin Bishop was all that great an actor. I know he was young at the time, but I don’t think I would have commended his performance. Take a look at him now:
One of the biggest problems that I had with The Muppet Christmas Carol was that I thought it failed as a musical. I didn’t think many of the songs were memorable or even all that well-written. However, I feel this movie really captures the musical aspect! Most of the songs in this movie are memorable, catchy, and have well-written lyrics and music. Even songs that literally have no point to them, like Cabin Fever, are a joy to watch and listen to!
Summing up, I really enjoyed this film and wish that the Muppets would adapt more classic tales on a theatrical level again! I, for one, would definitely enjoy it…I think!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score for this film is 30/35 = 85.71% (B) !
The next review will be posted on February 15th.