Muppet Treasure Island: Musical Pirates
The Muppets have been around for a long time. As a result, some hilarious movies have been made over the years. One good example was the 1996 movie Muppet Treasure Island, which was based on the 1883 novel Treasure Island. Produced by Jim Henson Productions and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Muppet Treasure Island combined the action and adventure of the original book Treasure Island and the whimsical comedy of the Muppets. Telling the story of one boy's adventures in the high seas to look for treasure, Muppet Treasure Island managed to maintain the drama of the original novel despite including Muppets like Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat as the constant companions of the boy during this adventure. In addition to the inclusion of Gonzo and Rizzo as the characters who were arguably the main protagonists of the story, the viewer got to see other popular Muppets act as significant characters from Muppet Treasure Island. You had Kermit the Frog as Captain Smollett, Fozzie Bear as the district squire Trelawney, and Miss Piggy as the female Benjamina Gunn. In addition to adding Muoot characters to the plot, there were some interesting songs in Muppet Treasure Island. You had a song that basically established that the pirates in this movie were not trustworthy folk, a song that showed a comedic interpretation of the effects of isolation at sea, and a song that subverted the pirates' villainy with a more positive interpretation. Muppet Treasure Island was a fun movie to watch as a kid, and possibly get certain songs stuck in one's head.
Darker and Edgier
Muppet Treasure Island began with a song which, in the context of the novel Treasure Island, explained how the treasure which set this whole story into motion began. The narrator talked about an expedition carried out by a man named Captain Flint. The narrator was Captain Flint's first mate, and he made sure that the viewer knew that this was a dark tale to tell. And if the viewer was unsure whether or not Muppet Treasure Island would be as dark a tale as the narrator implied, the song Shiver My Timbers made the darkness of Muppet Treasure Island very apparent. With lyrics like:
And those buccaneers drowned their sins in rum!
The devil himself would have to call them scum!
Every man aboard would have killed his mate.
For a bag of guineas or a piece of eight!
A piece of eight!
A piece of eight!
Five, six, seven, eight
Hulla wacka! Ulla wacka! something not right!
Many wicked icky things gonna happen tonight!
Hulla wacka! Mulla wacka! Sailor men beware!
When de money in de ground dere's murder in de air!
Murder in de air!
One more time now!
The viewer had to come to accept the idea that this movie would involve someone dying. Of course, once the story shifted to the perspective of Jim Hawkins, Gonzo, and Rizzo, there was still death, but shown in a darkly hilarious manner.
And with this death, the adventure to find Captain Flint's treasure could begin. Of course, with the warning that the three adventurers had to avoid certain people, the danger within Muppet Treasure Island was something that hung on the air.
While there was a bigger sense of danger in Muppet Treasure Island compared to other movies starring the Muppets, Of course, there were some comedic moments that helped retain the child friendly image the Muppets have gained over the years. In the original novel Treasure island, Captain Smollett expressed distrust of the crew that were on the ship at the time. Kermit the Frog in the same role expressed a similar sentiment, but in a more overt manner. For instance, in one scene Kermit and Sam the Eagle, playing Mr. Samuel Arrow, had a scene where a roll call was held. Essentially, the movie emphasized that almost all of the people who were not well known Muppets going on this voyage, be they human or Muppet themselves, were obviously evil, looked like they would be cast as villains. or were already cast as villains in other cinematic examples. Especially Big Fat Ugly Bug Faced Baby Eating O'Brien. In typical Muppet fashion, Muppet Treasure Island poked fun on this aspect of Treasure Island's story by blaming Fozzie Bear's friend who lived in his finger.
But even if the crew in Muppet Treasure Island was filled with obviously evil people, that did not mean that they could not participate in the shenanigans of this movie. At one point in the movie, it was implied that the voyage to Captain Flint's treasure took a very long time. So much so that apparently everyone just spontaneously burst into song. Titled Cabin Fever, this song was basically everybody going crazy and making a song about how crazy they were going. With lyrics like:
Cabin fever has ravaged all aboard
This once proud vessel has become a floating psycho ward
We were sailing, sailing headed who knows where
And now though we're all here
We're not all there
It was obvious that everybody was completely nuts during this sequence. Thankfully, the voyage was nearing its end at this point before any lasting damage could occur.
Fun and In-Character
Muppet Treasure Island was a movie that took some artistic liberties when it came to the story, but it at least tried to make the movie as accurate to the books. For instance, Jim Hawkins was one character in the story, but in the movie he was accompanied by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat. And while the viewer was already aware that Long John Silver, here played by Tim Curry, was the bad guy, the viewer could relate with Jim in that we actually grew to like the character because it seemed morally ambiguous in regards to his level of villainy. And while Long John Silver was accompanied by Muppets who confirmed that they were the bad guys in this movie, they were still comedic even when they did something like torture Gonzo. Mostly because apparently Gonzo liked getting his limbs elongated. Even the song Professional Pirate tried to make the pirates less villainous by saying they they were misunderstood. With lyrics like:
Some say that pirates steal and should be feared and hated
I say we're victims of bad press; it's all exaggerated
We'd never stab you in the back, we'd never lie or cheat
We're just about the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet!
Hey, ho, ho
It's one for all for one
And we'll share-and-share-alike with you and love you like a son
We're gentlemen of fortune and that's what we're proud to be
And when you're a professional pirate
You'll be honest, brave, and free
The soul of decency
You'll be loyal and fair and on the square
And most importantly—
When you're a professional pirate
You're always in the best of company!
The viewer ends up kind of liking the villains of this movie. And while they do get defeated in the end, it was somewhat relieving that none of them suffer fatally. Except Dead Tom. But he was already dead.
Muppet Treasure Island was a great movie. Old, but still something people will still enjoy watching for many years.