Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
December 10, 2020 8:03 PM - Subscribe

Adapted from the 1883 novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Muppet Treasure Island stars Tim Curry as Long John Silver, alongside Muppet performers Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Kevin Clash, and Frank Oz portraying various roles.

The film was released in the United States on February 16, 1996, by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. It grossed $34 million on a budget of $31 million, and receive generally positive reviews from critics.

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 73% based on 26 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Though less Muppet-centric than the original trilogy, Muppet Treasure Island is an energetic, cheerful take on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure, with typically solid gags."

Stephen Holden of The New York Times praised the playfulness of the Muppets as keeping "the story amusingly off-kilter. The mood is perfectly in keeping with the notion of the Muppets as contemporary children dressing up and improvising their own versions of classic tales." Ken Tucker, reviewing for Entertainment Weekly, gave the film a B+ noting that "the film is notably handsome in a dark, foreboding way. The Muppet action blends seamlessly with the human actors, and adults will be kept giggling with wittily anachronistic jokes about codependence, water-skiing, and Henry Kissinger."

Roger Ebert, reviewing for the Chicago Tribune, gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four. While he was favorable to Tim Curry's performance, he summarized the film as being "less cleverly written, and for moi it's a near miss." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two stars out of four, writing that the film was a "boring Muppet adventure that doesn't successfully meld the Muppets into a conventional buried-treasure story. I wanted the Muppets to play themselves rather than phony pirate-related characters."
posted by orange swan (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Okay, it's been a minute since I last saw this so I'm a little afraid to rewatch, but I love this movie, I love the Muppets, I love Tim was very formative! I even have vivid memories of renting the point and click adventure game version from the local video store. Yay Muppets!
posted by bowtiesarecool at 8:06 PM on December 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

i looove this film. curry is magnificent. i owned it on vhs! then dvd! i have the soundtrack! terrific songs, great story, kermit-piggy romance, adventure! the high seas! cabin fever! ebert gave it a shrug with, "if you like muppets, you'll like this." i however, award it five rizzos. yay muppets.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:18 PM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

We watched this recently with the spawn (seven and three) and god they loved it. I loved it too! It's one of my favourite of the later Muppet Movies, and Tim Curry in it is just fucking terrific. It's often commented that Muppet Christmas Carol is well served by Michael Caine treating it as if it were a Serious Film, and comparing that approach to Curry's enthusiastic chewing of every scene he's in is a delight.
posted by Jilder at 11:40 PM on December 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

Tim Curry is always fucking terrific - I mean, can you think of anything with Tim Curry in that wouldn't be severely hurt by the lack of him? I think one sad thing about the history of film is that it doesn't have a lot more Tim Curry in it.
posted by Grangousier at 12:24 AM on December 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

Agreed. They should have given Tim Curry at least one more song. His is the best one in the entire movie.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:14 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

Upstage, lads. This is my only number.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:02 AM on December 11, 2020 [8 favorites]

I think this was the first Muppet movie I ever saw, and also my first exposure to Treasure Island. Haven't seen it since but I've watched A Muppet Christmas Carol a whole bunch of times - I should give this another watch.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2020

Sailing to adventure on the... Big blue wet thing!

I love this movie; I saw it shortly before reading the actual Treasure Island for school, and had so much trouble not seeing Fozzie as Squire Trelawny, and Benjamina Gunn is just awesome.

Shout-out to Billy Connolly's hammy deathscene: "Never run with scissors! Not any other pointed object!"
posted by basalganglia at 3:55 AM on December 12, 2020

Shout-out to Billy Connolly's hammy deathscene: "Never run with scissors! Not any other pointed object!"

"It's all good fun, until somebody loses a -- aaaahhhh!"

Hormel Foods Corporation, makers of Spam, sued the production company for making the name of a warthog character "Spa'am". Their suit was defeated on September 22, 1995. The judge noted that "one might think Hormel would welcome the association with a genuine source of pork."

Tim Curry has said repeatedly that Long John Silver is his favourite role of any he ever played, and that this movie is one of his favourite movies of all those he's been in. His enjoyment of the experience certainly showed.

Miss Piggy is certainly a formidable fighter. I noticed she got in at least one good kick to an opponent's groin.

I've never read Treasure Island nor seen any production of it, so my first viewing of this movie two nights ago was my first experience of it. I'll have to read the book now. And I'm definitely down for more Muppet versions of classic tales. Apparently the Muppet team also considered doing King Arthur, which I would love to see.
posted by orange swan at 12:27 PM on December 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

This is my very favorite of all Muppet movies. (Even the first one, sacrilegious as it may be to say that!) (But I'm not counting Emmet Otter.) When I'm recommending it, I always warn friends they'll have to power through one cringey and mawkish here's-what-I-really-want-in-life number right at the beginning, but after that it's madcap comedy gold.

Even beyond Tim Curry--who chews up every scene and is also so believably fond of young Jim--there's so much to love here. The perfect match of the Muppets' personalities with the characters they're playing (Fozzie's cheerful spaciness, Miss Piggy's vanity and greed, Gonzo's deep sweetness, Sam's humorless adherence to rules, etc. What the hell was Siskel talking about in the bit quoted by OP? They're totally playing themselves). The rats trying to play shuffleboard. The whole Cabin Fever number. Miss Piggy's racy delivery of the line "Hello, Long John"--which kids won't get but which Kermit totally does: "Aw, him too?" And this exchange, both parts of which are regular refrains in my family:

Floyd: Just play the gig, man, never get involved in politics.

All that said: I'd like to think that if this were made today they'd handle the "island natives" stuff differently. They're cannibals with grass skirts, they speak in broken English, they make a castaway European their queen and then abandon her at the arrival of guns ("boom-boom sticks"), etc., etc. These are some pretty ugly tropes, presented uncritically and without even the self-aware meta-commentary that Muppets pull off so naturally. (E.G., "He died? This is supposed to be a kid's movie!") It's a solvable problem.
posted by miles per flower at 10:44 AM on December 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

"Oh when you're a professional Pirate..."
posted by Faintdreams at 12:27 PM on December 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

You don’t have to wear a suit.
posted by Malla at 10:08 PM on December 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

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