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Brian Henson's take on the classic Treasure Island story by Robert Louis Stevenson, featuring the old cast favorites of The Muppet Show, and Tim Curry playing Long John Silver. In the English seaside in the 18th Century, Jim Hawkins, played by Kevin Bishop, is now given two friends.... Gonzo and Rizzo, who are once again paired together as a comedy team and are the focus for much of the movie. When sailor Billy Bones warns of a treasure that legendary pirate captain Bernie Flint hid, and Jim's harridan-employer's inn is burned down by Flint's surviving pirate crew, Flint's treasure map ends up in Jim's possession. Fozzie Bear (playing rich-dolt Trelawney) confirms the map's authenticity, so they all set sail on the Hispaniola to find the treasure. Kermit the Frog plays the ship's master Captain Smallett, Sam the Eagle is Professor Arrow. Miss Piggy plays a gender-flipped version of Ben Gunn; a castaway marooned on the relevant island.
It isn't that high on the radar for most of the public memory, but is considered by fans to be one of the darkest and grittiest Muppet films, and one of their funniest productions.
This film contains examples of:
- Affably Evil: Long John, which is true of every other adaptation. Plus, it's Tim Curry.
- Anachronism Stew: Rizzo makes extra money by taking a group of rats along on a modern-style cruise on the ship, who dress as Hawaiian Shirted Tourists and use camcorders, speedboats and scuba gear.
- Also, the contents of Bones's seachest.
- An Aesop: Spoofed at the end.
Clueless Morgan: I for one have learned a valuable lesson...
[other pirates just beat him up]
- A Hero to His Hometown: Long John Silver says this of Sir Francis Drake in his song.
- Award Bait Song: Love Led Us Here. Yes, an Award Bait Song. In a Muppet movie.
- More of a parody, in context? They're about to die and they're singing "Now Heaven seems so near."
- Certainly a parody. While they're singing, it cuts to the pirates dancing and playing in the treasure in slow motion.
- More of a parody, in context? They're about to die and they're singing "Now Heaven seems so near."
- Big Damn Heroes: Hilariously parodied by the island Boars, when Long John Silver shoots off the headdress of the lead boar. "Me see you have boom boom stick... bye-bye."
- Big Eater: Rizzo the Rat polishes off most of a roast chicken bigger than he is within a few minutes.
Gonzo: I'm Gonzo...and the guy in the chicken is Rizzo.
Rizzo: <nom nom nom nom> Yo! <nom nom nom nom>
- Black Spot: One is delivered to the old guy in the beginning and he dies.
- Brawn Hilda: Mrs. Bluberidge personally hands several vicious pirates their asses as her Inn burns down.
- Brick Joke: Those life boats look decidedly...unsafe.
- Pants full of starfish.
- Broken Pedestal: Long John is revealed to be a pirate, after taking on a surrogate father role to the (orphan) Jim Hawkins.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes
- Call Back: Towards the beginning of the movie, Jim and Long John have this exchange:
Jim: "But we're just cabin boys, Mr. Silver."
Long John: "Long John, to his friends."
- Then, towards the end of the movie...
Long John: "I could never kill you, lad. You're honest and brave and true. You didn't learn any of that from me."
Jim: "I learned it from my friends, Mr. Silver."
Jim: "Wherever the wind may take us!"
Gonzo: "Off to Zanzibar to meet the Zanzi-barbarians!"
Rizzo: "Here they go again..."
- Unsafe lifeboats.
- The Cameo: The Swedish Chef, who appears towards the end of the film wearing a fake pig snout on the island of the "cannibal pigs". Lampshaded by the Singing Fruit who break the fourth wall to address the audience, asking "How else were we supposed to get him in this movie?"
- Captain Obvious: "Dead Tom is dead!"
"Long John shot him!"
"But Dead Tom's always been dead. That's why he's called 'Dead Tom.'"
"Oh." [Drops him.]
- Carnivore Confusion: Running an 18th-century inn is problematic when many of your customers are considered edible in non-talking form.
Mrs. Bluberidge: Don't forget to come back for our lunchtime special! Roast suckling...
Mrs. Bluberidge: potatoes!
Mrs. Bluberidge (to a Talking Potato): No offense meant, ma'am, no offense!
- Chekhov's Gun: The starfish mentioned below.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Clueless Morgan. Squire Trelawney [Fozzie] also talks to a little man who lives in his finger for advice, or as he says upon greenlighting the voyage:
Trelawney: What are rich half-wit sons for?
- Plus there's Gonzo, case in point:
Gonzo: It feels so weird.
Rizzo: You mean that Mr. Arrow is dead?
Gonzo: Yeah, that. And my pants are filled with starfish.
Rizzo: You and your hobbies...
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: In the scene in which the remaining Hispaniola crew and Benjamina confront Silver, they are all dressed in pristine, heroic-looking white shirts with dark breeches, which we might as well chalk up to Rule of Cool since those outfits never show up anywhere else.
- Comically Missing the Point: Gonzo is full of this.
Mr. Arrow: [describing Captain Smollett's temper] "The man is a raging volcano, tormented by inner demons, the likes of which mere mortals cannot fathom!"
Gonzo: "He's got demons? Cool!"
- The Comically Serious: Arrow, which is pretty much the personality of Sam the Eagle anyway.
- Coming of Age Story: Apparently this was the reason why they got an actual human to play Jim, as opposed to an early draft that had Gonzo and Rizzo play Jim and Hawkins as two characters.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: Fozzie: "Oh, Mr. Bimble lives in my finger. He's very smart. He's been to the moon. [puts finger to his ear] Oh, thank you... twice."
- Crowd Song: Done at least three times, Lampshaded during "Professional Pirate":
"Sing it, lads! Show 'im you've been practicing!"
- Cutlass Between the Teeth: Mr. Arrow does this briefly with Captain Smollett's sword near the end.
- Darker and Edgier: It still has the usual Muppet goofiness, but it's a lot darker than the usual stuff. After all, the film's opening has a harsh male choir singing a rather morbid song with subject matter including such family friendly material as murder, greed, alchoholism and even a reference to Old Nick himself. And it's all topped off with Flint murdering his entire crew. The remainder of the film is filled with somewhat intense scenes of threat, drinking and possible cannibalsim.
- In true Muppet fashion, this is lampshaded: "He died? But this is a kids' movie!"
- Don't forget the first musical number on the ship, which not only talks about dying by falling overboard, but also has a short segment where three different pirates compare favorite ways to see people die. Just Kidding.
- The Danza: In an interesting variation, the pre-existing Billy Bones is played by Billy Connolly.
- Deadpan Snarker: Rizzo, as usual.
- Did Not Do the Bloody Research: "Billy's dead, and he hasn't got the bloody map!" Spoken not too long after the line about this being a kids' movie.
- In a recently released version, the word "bloody" is taken out, and "blasted" is inserted in its stead.
- Disney Acid Sequence: "Cabin Fever"
- Disney Death: Nope, turns out Mr. Arrow's lifeboat was actually completely shipshape. Silver's, however....
- The Drunken Sailor: Billy Bones.
- Early-Bird Cameo: A generic monkey who sings in the "Cabin Fever" scene is a pre-Muppets Tonight Sal Minella.
- Even Evil Has Standards: "I could have been a lawyer/ but I just had too much heart."
- Also, Long John Silver appears outraged when his own crew attempt to give him the dreaded Black Spot on a page of the Bible, which is directly from the original novel (this may have been part of his act to get them back on his side).
- Also refuses to shoot Jim when the boy could raise the alarm.
- (From the opening song) "The Devil himself would have to call them scum!"
- Everything Talks: Especially in the Shiver My Timbers opening sequence.
- Flynning: Mocked; when Kermit tries it the sword flies out of his hand, leaving him defenseless.
- And almost skewering the unnamed cockroach muppet.
- Finish Dialogue in Unison: When Bones finishes telling the story about Flint, he says "Now isn't that story worth the hearin'?" - as do most of the guests, followed by one of the patrons complaining, "It was the first dozen times we heard it!"
- Fluffy the Terrible: Sweetums, as always.
- French Jerk: Blind Pew.
- From a Certain Point of View: Long John appeals to this while trying to convince Jim that pirates aren't all that bad in "Professional Pirate", using Sir Francis Drake (evil pirate to the Spanish, hero to the British) as an example. Subverted in that everything in the song about how pirates are good people are Blatant Lies and Suspiciously Specific Denials.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Completely averted, though Captain Smollett does outlaw alcohol on the voyage.
- Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Made by Gonzo, while throwing starfish as shuriken.
- And what makes it even funnier is that the noises are in Spanish. "Me casa su casa", which roughly translates to "My house is your house." As in, we are such good friends that I would share my home with you."
- Gender Flip: The original maroonee Benjamin Gunn becomes Benjamina Gunn [Miss Piggy], and is also the love interest of Captain Smollet [Kermit].
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: A few instances, but one in particular springs to mind:
Benjamina: Why, hello, Looooong John~
- Go Through Me: A whole succession of it in one scene, though for Rizzo you're going to have to "negotiate strenuously."
- God Save Us From the Queen: Benjamina Gunn (Miss Piggy) is built up this way by the native boars prior to her entrance. The chief boar tells Smollett and the others, "Now you face wrath of our queen, Boomshakalaka!" She then enters the scene riding an elephant, obscured by palm fronds, and serenaded by an increasingly frantic beating of drums and chanting of her name.
- Gratuitous German: The German lines in Cabin Fever.
- Handicapped Badass: Blind Pew maybe visually challenged. But he can hear a gun being cocked from the other side of the room and be over there is seconds.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: As per usual with Muppet movies. Includes: Dr Frank, Il Duce, and Edina Monsoon.
- Improbable Weapon User: How does a starfish-wielding Muppet sound to you?
- Insistent Terminology: Blind Fiends prefer Visually Challenged Fiend according to Gonzo.
- Ironic Nickname: Big Fat Ugly Bug-Faced Baby-Eating O'Brien and Angel Marie.
- I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Billy entrusts the treasure map to Jim right before he dies.
- "I Want" Song: "Something Better," sung by Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo.
- Jaw Drop: Captain Smollett and Mr. Arrow's reaction upon seeing "Big Fat Ugly Bug Faced Baby Eating O'Brien", who is a woman. (And not exactly bad-looking.)
- Killed Off for Real: Billy Bones dies at the start of the film. According to his biography, Billy Connolly is apparently very proud of his record as the only character ever to die in a Muppets film.
- "He died?! But this is supposed to be a KIDS' MOVIE!"
- Knife Outline: With starfish. Yes, starfish.
- Gonzo was using them as shurikens. Yeah, it's that kind of movie.
- Besides...it's Gonzo. And it's one hell of a Brick Joke seeing as it gets a throwaway line earlier.
- Lampshade: The Movie!
- Large Ham: Tim Curry (in fact, he says that out of all the movies he has been in, this is his favorite), Billy Connolly, and, of course, the muppets themselves.
- Laser-Guided Karma / Reality Ensues After Silver gets away with part of the treasure, Arrow comes up behind Jim and Smollett and mentions that the boat he just took was unsafe. Sure enough, it and the treasure sink, forcing Silver to swim to Treasure Island.
- Hoist by His Own Petard Arrow knows this because Silver disposed of him earlier by stoking paranoia about leaky lifeboats and persuading Arrow to take one out for a test run. At the time it looked like Arrow had been killed by this.
- Lovable Coward: Rizzo, even more than usual.
Rizzo: I've gone waaay beyond afraid! Right now I'm somewhere between bed-wetting and a near-death-experience!
- Meaningful Name: Not so much 'meaningful' as 'literal' amongst the crew. It includes such specimens as Wall-Eyed Pike, Black-Eyed Pea, Headless Bill, Old Tom and, of course, Dead Tom.
- Subverted with "Big Fat Ugly Bug-Faced Baby-Eating O'Brien".
- Mind Your Step: Benjamina (Ms. Piggy) ruins her huge entrance by tumbling down the stairs. She blames her pet anteater.
- Missing Mom: In the original novel, Jim Hawkins' mother was still around. In this movie, no such luck.
- Never Say "Die": Completely averted; the characters use the words "die" and "kill" several times, often in a comedic context.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Gonzo.
- No Fourth Wall: Repeatedly and gleefully broken by Gonzo and Rizzo.
- And a line from the Cabin Fever sequence:
"I'd like to get my hands on whoever wrote this script."
- Also from Long John, who gives stage directions during what he calls "his only number".
- Along with the Swedish Chef.
Tomato: Well, how else were we gonna get him in this movie?
- The rat tourists appear in some scenes being told they're on the set or filming location for Muppet Treasure Island.
- And of course:
Statler: We're heroes! We saved the pig and the frog!
Waldorf: Well, it was too late to save the movie!
- As well as
Statler: Take a cruise you said. See the world you said. Now we're stuck on the front of this stupid ship.
Waldorf: Well it could be worse. We could be stuck in the audience
- Obviously Evil: Smollet and Arrow come to this conclusion after the roll call.
- And even those audience members who've never read or heard about Treasure Island reach that conclusion upon seeing Tim Curry. Then there's Long John's one leg and Billy's previous warning about the one-legged man...
- Ocean Madness: Results in the showstopping "Cabin Fever" musical number.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Big Fat Ugly Bug-Faced Baby-Eating O'Brien.
- Offhand Backhand: Arrow [Sam the Eagle] does this to Polly Lobster.
- Parental Bonus: It's a Muppet movie. Of course it's going to be packed with Parental Bonus. Among the many instances are at least two references to Star Trek, also counting as Late to The Punchline moments for viewers rewatching it.
- There is also the moment where Kermit is talking about leaving Miss Piggy at the altar:
Kermit: I got cold feet.
Miss Piggy: You're a frog; you're supposed to have cold feet!
- Pirate Girl: Big Fat Ugly Bug-Faced Baby-Eating O'Brien. But we only see her once.
- Possibly subverted as she has one of the deepest, manliest voices in the cast.
- Benjamina Gunn qualifies. After all, the character in the original book was part of Flint's crew.
- Pirate Parrot: Subverted and lampshaded. While Polly does screech for crackers and pieces of eight, he is a lobster. When Gonzo says that he thought sailors had talking parrots, he receives a blank look from Polly and Silver.
- Powder Trail
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The story is pretty much left untouched - Billy Bones is still The Alcoholic, but he only has the one drunken fit on-screen, and whilst he's not exactly shy about letting people know he was part of one the most bloodthirsty pirate crews who ever sailed the Seven Seas, everyone thinks he's making it up. Meanwhile, Squire Trelawney is replaced by Young Squire Trelawney, and the pirates' camp from the original novel is left out entirely.
- Public Service Announcement: From Billy Bones, of all people.
Billy Bones: Beware lads! Beware!
Jim: What? The one-legged man?
Billy Bones: Aye! But also, beware running with scissors, or any other pointy objects! It's all good fun, until someone loses an EYYYYEEEEE...! <dies>
- R-Rated Opening: Though the movie doesn't reach anywhere near an R rating, "Shiver My Timbers" serves this purpose for what is (as Gonzo said) "supposed to be a kid's movie". A foreboding song about how ruthless and bloodthirsty pirates are, culminating in the first shot of an offscreen massacre of a pirate crew.
Shiver my timbers, shiver my sails! DEAD! MEN! TELL! NO! TALES! [BANG]
- Selective Obliviousness: The rats purchased tickets to go along on the adventure with the understanding that they were going on a cruise ship, and behave accordingly. Lampshaded (isn't everything?) when several of them take a tour of the island and the tour guide points out that they are currently viewing "an actual film location from the movie Muppet Treasure Island!" Yet later, during the climactic battle with the pirates, several of the female rats act as cheerleaders for Captain Smollett.
- Setting-Off Song: "Sailing For Adventure."
- Shout-Out: In "Professional Pirate"
I could have been in politics, cause I've always been a big spender./And me... I coulda been... a contender.
"We'd be out searching for that treasure! Sailing the seas on a five-year mission, boldly going where no man has gone before! Say, that's catchy."
- When Polly Lobster comments on how talking parrots are a preposterous idea, he also mentions a singing, dancing mouse with his own amusement park.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Mr. Arrow, which even becomes a plot point later on.
- Statler and Waldorf: As the ship's figureheads. Though as they themselves point out, things could be worse. "We could be in the audience!"
- They also double as Chekhov's Gunman.
- Stealth Pun: "I'm a pig! I need commitment!" Many viewers did not get that joke the first time they saw it.
- That Poor Cat: In what was a Throw It In by the sound crew that they decided to go with.
- And then lampshaded in dialogue. "Watch where you're going, you stupid cat!"
- The Hyena: Long John Silver's cackles at pretty much every occasion, including things that appear to make him furious.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: And how! So awesome it reverses a mutiny.
'Silver: "The Black Spot? You dare to give me the Black Spot? Drawn on a page from the Bible? You tore a page from the Holy Scriptures to make a pirate’s death sentence? Oooooh, the red hot gates of Hell are creeping open! Satan is a-heatin his pokers for you, you blasphemous heathens! Fall down on your knees and beg for deliverance from damnation!"
- Those Two Guys: Gonzo and Rizzo, of course.
- Too Kinky to Torture: Gonzo. As they say on the DVD Commentary, "They picked the wrong guy."
Gonzo: <stretched on the rack> Oh! Oh...yes! Look at this! I'm taller! This is so cool! I may even have a future with the NBA!
- True Companions: Jim, Gonzo and Rizzo.
Rizzo: Okay, all right, so I'm a rat, and you're a human being, and Gonzo's a... uh...
Rizzo: Yeah! I mean, we're still -- we're still family!
- Up to Eleven: The three pirates Old Tom, Real Old Tom, and Dead Tom.
- Villain Song: "Professional Pirate" is arguably the best number in the whole thing (except for maybe "Cabin Fever").
- Lampshaded by Long John Silver as he begins - "Upstage, lads! This is my only number..."
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The island boars
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: "MARGARITAS AT THE MIDNIGHT BUFFET!"
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: When Benjamina reminds Captain Smollett of how he left her at the altar.
"My mother came all the way from France! I was wearing her white lace dress! The cake was filled with LEMON! CUSTARD!"
- Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: When Kermit grabs Miss Piggy when she falls off a cliff.
- Wingding Eyes
Gonzo (dollar signs in eyes): We're gonna be rich!
Rizzo (skulls and crossbones in eyes): We're gonna be dead!
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: SHIVER MY TIMBERS, SHIVER MY SAILS, DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES!
- You Are Worth Hell: "Love Led Us Here."