Film: The Great Muppet Caper
Miss Piggy: Um, why are you telling me all this?
A 1981 release by Jim Henson
and his studio, The Great Muppet Caper
was a sequel to The Muppet Movie
and would prove to be the second in a long line of live-action Muppet movies.
The story goes that Kermit and Fozzie are identical twin newspaper reporters (Yeah, we know, their editor doesn't get it, either) and Gonzo's their photographer. After nearly losing their jobs for missing a massive jewelry robbery scoop right under their noses, the intrepid trio head to London to get the follow-up story to said scoop as an exclusive to save said jobs. The robbery victim is Lady Holiday, who just happens to have wound up with Miss Piggy in her employ. Pig meets frog, frog thinks pig is Lady Holiday, pig goes along with it because she's smitten with frog, and all the while the thieves are closer than Lady Holiday thinks.
This very silly movie has so many Lampshade Hangings
they could open a store to sell them and have enough stock to last a week. Also very apparent are the highly-increased production values compared to its predecessor and the film debuts of some Muppets who showed up on The Muppet Show
after the first movie. The movie also stars Charles Grodin in a role that strikes the right balance between serious villain and scenery chewing
The Great Muppet Caper includes examples of the following:
- The Alleged Car: The Happiness Hotel bus.
- Alleged Lookalikes: Kermit and Fozzie. A running gag has people somehow confusing the two, such as identifying Kermit as a bear.
Father: No, Christine, that's a frog. Bears wear hats.
Editor: Oh, yeah. I see [the similarity] now...
- At one point we're shown a picture of their "father", who's an extremely odd-looking frog/bear hybrid.
- Amazon Brigade: Nicky's gang. Which interestingly enough makes Nicky the male equivalent of the Smurfette Principle.
- Big Damn Heroes: Miss Piggy during the museum theft.
- British Stuffiness: The occupants of 17 Highbrow Street. The fact that it's played completely straight by the actors (one of whom is John Cleese) actually makes it even funnier.
- Break the Cutie: Parodied with Miss Piggy and humorously lampshaded: "What am I, a glutton for punishment?!"
- Busby Berkeley Number
- Call Back: A man knocks on the door to Nicky's office asking, "Mr. Holiday, did you order a gross of flowered socks?" Nicky can later be seen wearing said socks while unlocking the service door at the restaurant.
- He is, in fact, still wearing them during the heist at the Mallory Gallery, even though he's otherwise dressed head-to-foot in standard cat-burglar black.
- The Cameo: lots of them, sometimes Lampshaded. Including one from Jim Henson himself.
Peter Ustinov: What are you doing here?
Ustinov [sadly]: Me too.
- Cardboard Prison
- The Chew Toy: Sweetums during the opening number.
- Circling Birdies: Piggy sees birds flying around Kermit's face during their Love at First Sight moment.
- Coat Full of Contraband
- Contrived Coincidence: Also lampshaded.
Miss Piggy (when motorcycle appears): What an unbelievable coincidence!
- Creator Cameo - several of the puppeteers:
- Jim Henson gets his picture taken by Gonzo in the restaurant.
- Richard Hunt is driving a car during the opening number.
- Jerry Nelson is walking through the park with real-life daughter Christine (who mistakes Kermit for a bear).
Christine: Look, dad. A bear!
Jerry: No, Christine, that's a frog. Bears wear hats.
- Curbstomp Battle: What Miss Piggy gave Nicky and his gang.
- Dating Catwoman: What Nicky tried to pull with Miss Piggy but never succeeded.
- Delivery Guy Infiltration
- Digital Destruction: The most current version of the movie uses the songs as heard on the soundtrack album. As a result, several things are compromised:
- During the "Night Life" number, Dr. Teeth isn't supposed to sing like he does on the album. This results in covering up some of Animal's "LOVE SONG!!" chants.
- During the "Miss Piggy" number, the three dancers ("Happiness, Miss Piggy!") are clearly shown singing underwater, and are actually supposed to sound like it. Because the version from the album (which doesn't have this effect) is heard, the effect is completely messed up.
- Not related to a song, but when Miss Piggy crashed through a window of the Mallory Gallery, there's supposed to be a kiai as she jumps towards Nicky. This is not heard in the current version of the movie.
- Disney Acid Sequence
- Double Entendre: Though not a sexual one.
Fozzie: [going over a checklist] Wax lips?
Zoot: Aw man, I just had 'em.
Dr. Teeth: Did you leave 'em in your other pants?
Zoot: I don't have no other pants!
Fozzie: [going back to the checklist] Yo-yo?
Janice: [glancing at Zoot] Fer sure.
- Dream Ballet
- Drives Like Crazy: Beauregard the cab driver.
Beauregard: What's your room number?
Fozzie: Oh, I don't know... we're on the second floor.
Beauregard: Oh, I'm sorry! I can only take you as far as the lobby!
- Fashion Show
- For the Evulz/Card-Carrying Villain:
Kermit: "Why are you doing this?"
- Gentleman Thief
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- At one point everyone is talking at once, and Kermit screams for them to be quiet, causing them all to immediately shut up...except for Janice:
Janice: ...and I said, Look, Mother, it's my life, okeeey? So if I want to live on a beach and walk around nak— oh.
- In the "Happiness Hotel" number, some of the lyrics are:
Still, the management is cheerful / Though the whole joint's gone to hell
- At one point during the Fashion Show:
Statler: Hey, Waldorf. Wake up. Here come the bikinis!
- Also, this bit when Gonzo is going around taking pictures in the nightclub in an attempt to raise money for dinner:
Gonzo: How about you folks? Souvenir photograph?
Man: No thanks. No pictures.
Gonzo: Oh, come on! It'll be a great momento for you and your wife.
Man: My wife isn't feeling very well.
Gonzo: Oh, that's too bad. Maybe she should be at home.
Gonzo: (stammers incoherently) Yes, uh... NEXT TABLE!
- Granola Girl: Janice, as usual.
- Hulk Speak: Animal, including the spoof about complicated issues (when Zoot claims Animal is crazed due to missing a Rembrandt exhibit, Animal corrects him: "Renoir!").
- I Always Wanted to Say That: Gonzo invokes this after yelling, "Stop the presses!"
- Identical Twin ID Tags: Fozzie and Kermit, lampshaded.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: The Baseball Diamond.
- Even worse, the pedestal it's on at the museum is shaped like a baseball glove.
- The Muppets and the villains then begin to play an impromptu Baseball game with said diamond, complete with Louis Kazagernote doing commentary!
- Interspecies Romance: Pig/frog of course, but also pig/human.
- Lampshade Hanging: This movie is all about it.
- Large Ham: Charles Grodin, and, in a Breaking the Fourth Wall moment, Miss Piggy.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Miss Piggy makes up a fake address out of a random number and Kermit's use of the word "highbrow". Subverted when it turns out that there actually is a 17 Highbrow Street.
- Love at First Sight: Kermit and Miss Piggy, of course.
- Love Makes You Crazy: The disturbingly hilarious crush Charles Grodin's character Nick Holiday has for Miss Piggy throughout the film.
- Love Triangle: A one-sided one involving Nicky, Kermit, and Miss Piggy.
Miss Piggy: Yeah, well I can see where that might make you sick to your stomach.
- Medium Awareness: "Hey a movie!"
- Mistaken Identity
- Ms. Exposition: Lady Holiday, and of course, like everything else in this movie, it's lampshaded.
Miss Piggy: Why are you telling me all this?
Lady Holiday: It's plot exposition. It has to go in somewhere.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: An old photo is shown of the "twin" reporters' supposed father: a green bear with Kermit's goggly eyes and neck-ruff.
- Murphy's Bed: Which is known to collapse only when it's funny.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Cheerfully deployed in the Opening Chorus by Fozzie against himself. "We're going to make a movie starring everybody... and me!"
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The residents of the Happiness Hotel accidentally destroy the negative print proving that Nicky Holiday was the jewel thief.
- No Fourth Wall
- Possibly the best moment is as Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo in their hot air balloon discussing the credits:
Fozzie: "Nobody reads those names anyway, do they?"
Kermit: "Sure. They all have families."
- It's worth noting that this exchange comes in the first scene, and it keeps up from there.
- And then there's this gem:
Miss Piggy: And you know something else?! You can't even sing! Your voice was dubbed!
- At one point, Kermit and Miss Piggy break out of character to attack each other's acting, and which one is carrying the film.
- And, of course, "Hey! A Movie!", the song in the opening scene, about how they're "going to be in a movie starring everybody... and me".
- When the newspaper editor harangues the main trio for missing the story, we get a wonderful line that's later called back to in The Muppets:
Newspaper Editor: Next time? Next time?! What makes you think there's going to be a next time?
Kermit: Well, if there isn't, it'll be a very short movie.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Played with by London cabbie Beauregard on why he doesn't have an English accent, despite having lived in London "all my life". "English accent? I'm lucky I have a driver's license!"
- Nicky also has no trace of a British accent, despite being the (accented) Lady Holiday's brother.
- And, in fact, very few of the people the Muppets encounter while in England are actually English.
- Obviously Evil: Nicky. The first moment we meet him, he's staring rapturously at his sister's jewels. Plus, his name. Nicky. Just screams "con man". But if you paid attention to Lady Holiday at the beginning, you'd know that before meeting him.
- Obvious Stunt Double: As Ms. Piggy is racing to the gallery on a motorcycle there are several shots of a full body driver on the bike which is obviously a real person. Though they are careful to never show the face, the difference in size between a human and a Muppet is blatantly obvious. (and this is the same film that had some of the most elaborate actual Muppets riding bicycle scenes).
- Opt Out: Subverting the usual trope, everybody starts opting out when Kermit proposes his plan to stop Nicky's gang from stealing the Baseball Diamond. All except Gonzo and Fozzie, that is, the latter of whom uses a heck of a guilt trip to get everyone back in.
- Properly Paranoid: Lady Holiday, who has already suffered one attempt on her jewels.
Lady Holiday: [with one hand over her necklace] I feel as though thieves are breathing down my neck.
- Rousing Speech:
Kermit: Fozzie, you okay?
Fozzie: That took a lot out of me!
- Running Gag: "What color are their hands now?"
- Seven Minute Lull: 15 Seconds Kermit Yells "Quiiiieeettttt!!!"
- And Fozzie ("Hold iiiiiiiiiiitttttt!!!")
- Also, Janice, when discussing nudity.
- Stiff Upper Lip: The couple living at 17 Highbrow Street react quite calmly to a strange pig breaking into their house.
- Super Window Jump
- Take a Third Option: During the "Happiness Hotel" number:
Pops: Hey, how are you guys fixing to pay?
Kermit: What are our choices?
Pops: A) Credit Card, B) Cash, C) Sneak out in the middle of the night?
Fozzie: We'll take "C".
Pops: Veeeeeeery popular choice (swats fly).
- Theme Naming
- Too Dumb to Live: Kermit during the bike riding scene, from Statler and Waldorf's point of view. Doubles as a possibly Accidental Aesop about bike safety.
"Heh. Look ma, no brains!"
- Trrrilling Rrrs: Lady Holiday, noticeably when talking on the phone about her "horrrrrendous" fashion designs.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nobody in the Happiness Hotel reacts with fear or panic when Beauregard drives his taxi into the hotel. They all just calmy continue what they were doing, only giving a brief glance to the action.
- Very False Advertising: The Happiness Hotel. Granted, the people who live there are a very happy bunch, but it's more despite the living conditions than because of them.
- By way of example, the travel guide lists it alongside bus terminals and riverbanks in the section labeled "Places you can park your carcass."
- What the Hell, Hero?: See Rousing Speech above
- Wrongly Accused