Film: Muppet Treasure Island
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 (Billy Connolly
) 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. Bunsen Honeydew plays Dr. Livesey, Kermit the Frog plays the ship's master Captain Smollett, Sam the Eagle is Mister Arrow, the first mate. 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:
- Absentee Actor: Frank Oz was unavailable for parts of filming, leaving Kevin Clash to perform several of his scenes. For the scenes he wasn't available for, Oz looped his characters' voices in post production.
- Action Pig: Miss Piggy
- Adventurer Outfit: Trelawny gains one after being rescued from the pirates with a khaki-colored shirt, netting and goggles on his tricorn, and a "no pirates" patch on his shirt.
- Affably Evil: Long John, which is true of every other adaptation. Plus, it's Tim Curry.
- Anachronism Stew: As is typical of a Muppet movie. One of the more prominent examples: 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 sea chest.
- 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.
- Anti-Villain: Long John is Type I. He's very charming, polite and actually cares for Jimmy.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: 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!"
- Award Bait Song: Love Led Us Here. May or may not be a parody.
- 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."
- Played straight with Statler and Waldorf catching the captain and Benjamina.
- 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>
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Cabin Fever. Acknowledged in-universe, as only Clueless Morgan seems to even remember it.
- Black Spot: One is delivered to Billy Bones in the beginning and he dies.
- Bowdlerise: Some TV showings remove the scene in which Long John Silver unsuccessfully attempts to get the officers drunk, as well as references to Hell and demons.
- Brawn Hilda: Mrs. Bluveridge personally hands several vicious pirates their butts as her Inn burns down.
- Brick Joke:
- Those life boats look decidedly...unsafe.
- As Arrow is rowing safely to the island, he's STILL gauging the boat's safeness.
- 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: The island boar tribe shows up like this after Smollett, Gonzo, and Rizzo bed down for the night.
- Cabin Fever: During a period of no wind, the majority of the crew suffers this . . . . and sings about it.
- Call Back: Towards the beginning of the movie, Jim and Long John have this exchange:
Jim: "But we're just cabin boys, Mr. Silver."
- 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."
- Also, at one point, Sweetums turns out to be on the side of Smollett and his men, despite being a pirate. When Smollett questions this, he replies, "Are you kidding? I love you guys!" which is a Call Back to the original movie.
- From the start, and the end of the movie:
Jim: "Wherever the wind may take us!"
Gonzo: "Off to Zanzibar to meet the Zanzi-barbarians!"
Rizzo: "Here they go again..."
- 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?"
- In the same scene, very briefly, Link Hogthrob as the gong-ringer.
- Someone who sounds a lot like Uncle Deadly can be heard during the "Shiver My Timbers" number, implying that he may be under (or in) the pile of singing skulls.
And when greed and villainy sail the sea, you can bet your boots there'll be treachery! [Evil Laugh]
- 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.
Don't forget to come back for our lunchtime special! Roast suckling... Pigs:
Huh? Mrs. Bluveridge:
Hmpf! Mrs. Bluveridge:
No offense meant, ma'am, no offense!
- Chekhov's Gun: The starfish mentioned below.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander:
- Clueless Morgan.
- Squire Trelawney [Fozzie] talks to a little man who lives in his finger, and as he says upon greenlighting the voyage:
Trelawney: What are rich half-wit sons for?
- Plus there's Gonzo. Case in point:
It feels so weird. Rizzo:
You mean that Mr. Arrow is dead? Gonzo:
Yeah, that. And my pants are filled with starfish. (beat) 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!"
: "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."
- Keep in mind that this is a puppet Consulting Mister Puppet. Yeah.
- 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, alcoholism, 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 cannibalism.
- 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 talks about dying by falling overboard.
- "I love to see 'em cry when they walk the plank." "I prefer to cut a throat." "I love to hang 'em high and watch their little feet try to walk in the air while their faces turn bluuue."
- Long John tells his fellow mutineers that Satan is heating his pokers for their heresy of tearing a page from the Bible to give him the black spot.
- Dead Hat Shot: After Arrow is "washed overboard", one of the crew informs Captain Smollett that all that was found of him was his hat. Subverted in that it wasn't actually found in the water; Mr. Arrow had given it to Long John.
- 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.
- Also, Billy's line earlier "How does she bloody do that?!"
- In a recently released version, the word "bloody" is taken out, and "bloomin'" 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....
- Dressed to Plunder: Naturally, the pirates wear the standard pirate costumes that were codified by the original Treasure Island. Long John is particularly resplendent once he shows his true colors.
- The Drunken Sailor: Billy Bones.
- Dual Wielding: Arrow, briefly, before he tosses the second sword to Smollett.
- 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."
- Silver refuses to shoot Jim when the boy could raise the alarm.
- Silver invokes this idea when he shames the pirates for giving him The Black Spot on a page torn out of The Bible.
- (From the opening song) "The Devil himself would have to call them scum!"
- Everything Talks: Especially in the "Shiver My Timbers" opening sequence.
- Eyepatch of Power: Both of Blind Pew's eyes are covered with eyepatches.
- Face Palm: Benjamina when her tribe decides they're not going to tangle with "boom-boom sticks."
- Also Mr. Arrow when Kermit's sword slips out of his hand.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Arrow reacts this way to dust on the ship, incorrectly assuming the captain will feel the same.
- 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.
- Flynning: Mocked; when Kermit tries it the sword flies out of his hand (almost skewering another muppet), leaving him defenseless.
- For Science!: Dr. Livesy, played by Bunsen Honeydew. The first we see of him is an exploding lab with Beaker flying into the wall.
- French Jerk: Blind Pew talks in a vague French accent.
- Friendly Address Privileges: See the first example under Call Back above.
- 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. In Spanish.
- Furry Reminder: Sort of. Smollet/Kermit is showing off with his sword by cutting off Long John's clothing decor while swinging his sword about then the sword flies out of his hand. He blames his slippery hands on account of being a frog.
- 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~
- Everything that happened with Benjamina and the pirates prior to the movie probably qualifies: "I took up with this Captain Flint fellow...he was a pirate, I was a lady, you know how the story goes." Most of the adults in the audience probably recognize that the "story" in question usually doesn't get a PG rating...
- Also, when Long John's crew are about to give him the Black Spot, Clueless Morgan had to have been thinking of something entirely different.
Clueless Morgan: Yeah?
Polly: Give it to him!
Clueless Morgan: *pause* But uhh...it's not even his birthday.
- 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 in seconds.
- 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.
- Interscene Diegetic: The "Love Led Us Here" number is heard while the camera cuts away to the pirates.
- "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.)
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite her bossy and overbearing nature, Mrs. Bluveridge does genuinely care about Jim, Gonzo and Rizzo, telling them not to worry about her and run to safety.
- Long John Silver is a backstabbing, manipulative pirate, but he retains a soft spot for Jim.
- 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.
- Hilariously spoofed (alongside the Posthumous Character trope) by Dead Tom. Despite being "dead" from the beginning, he ends up getting killed (yet again?) during a confrontation between Long John and the other pirates. Made even funnier when one of the unnamed pirates cradles his body and mourns his passing, only to be informed that Tom has "always been dead" (thus his being "Dead" Tom), to which said pirate stops crying, exclaims an "Oh" and promptly drops the "corpse".
- 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 heck of a Brick Joke seeing as it gets a throwaway line earlier.
- Large and in Charge: Mrs. Bluveridge.
- Large Ham: Tim Curry (in fact, he says that out of all the movies he has been in, this is his favorite), Billy Connolly, Jennifer Saunders 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!
- Manipulative Bastard: Long John. He befriends Jim and gets him to fess up about the map's whereabouts, tricks Arrow into giving him the keys and removing himself from the ship, and then when the other pirates turn on him, he wins them back by literally putting the fear of God into them 'cause they defaced a Bible.
- 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, Really Old Tom, and, of course, Dead Tom.
- Subverted with "Big Fat Ugly Bug-Faced Baby-Eating O'Brien", who apparently switched names with Angel Marie.
- 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.
- Mook-Face Turn: Sweetums does this at the end, during the big fight, when it looks as though he is going to bash Smollet and Mr. Arrow on the head with a large log, but actually hits some of his fellow pirates on the head instead. This is immediately lampshaded:
Smollet: Well, thank you. But aren't you supposed to fighting against us?
Sweetums: Are you kidding? I love you guys!
- Mundane Made Awesome: "MARGARITAS AT THE MIDNIGHT BUFFET!"
- 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.
- 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 at the actual location for the movie Muppet Treasure Island.
- And of course:
Statler: Take a cruise you said.
Statler: See the world you said.
Statler: Now here we are stuck on the front of this stupid ship!
Waldorf: Well it could be worse. We could be stuck in the audience!
Statler: Waldorf you old fool! We're heroes! We saved the pig and the frog!
Waldorf: Well, it was too late to save the movie!
- No Honor Among Thieves:
Every man on board would have killed his mate
For a bag of guineas or a piece of eight.
- 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 and not to mention the occational ominous music...
- 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. Twice. Once while in mid-Face Palm.
- Oh, Crap: "Oh woof..." Black Dog's line right before the powder explodes.
- One-Woman Wail: Towards the end of "Shiver My Timbers".
- 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.
- Pirate Girl: Big Fat Ugly Bug-Faced Baby-Eating O'Brien. But we only see her once.
- 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.
- Played for Drama: Though the entire movie is fairly dark, especially for a Muppet movie, the confrontation between Jim and Silver when Silver is leaving the ship for the last time and threatens to shoot Jim could very well come from a completely different movie given the dead serious tone it has.
- 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 the first mate 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>
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Polly, Mad Monty and Clueless Morgan.
- R-Rated Opening: Though the movie doesn't reach anywhere near an R rating, "Shiver My Timbers" serves this purpose for what is (as Rizzo 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]
- Runaway Groom: Before the movie. Smollett left Benjamina standing at the altar.
- Samus is a Girl: Big-Fat-Ugly-Bug-Faced-Baby-Eating O'Brian.
- 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.
- The "Dead Tom is dead!" scene is a Shout-Out to Fraggle Rock, in that the pirate who cries over Dead Tom's "death" is Mudwell the Mudbunny from episode Gone, But Not Forgotten; a true Tear Jerker story that takes up the themes of death and rebirth.
- Gonzo, early on:
Benjamina: "Of all the backwater, no-class piles of sand in the ocean, you had to wash up on mine!"
- 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!"
- 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!
"Angel Marie said later he'd throw a line out the back and let me drag along the bottom!"
- 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: Lampshaded by Long John Silver as he begins
"Upstage, lads! This is my only number..."
- Vocal Dissonance: Big Fat Ugly Bug-Faced Baby-Eating O'Brien
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The island boars
- Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: When Kermit grabs Miss Piggy when she falls off a cliff.
- Wing Ding 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."