“But Dead Tom’s always been dead. That’s why he’s called Dead Tom…”
It’s surprising I’ve never got round to watching this before considering my undying love for all things Muppets. I guess if you didn’t watch Muppet Treasure Island as a child however, you are unlikely to watch it as an adult. Unless you are stuck in a state of permanent, mind numbing adolescence as I am…
We all know the story of Treasure Island so I won’t repeat that here. What I will say is that I have recently read the novel and this film version strays surprisingly close to the source material, without the undercurrent of colonialism and a dislike of the working classes. Having said that, the most problematic moment in this adaptation occurs with the addition of a native tribe to accompany the stowaway Ben Gunn (or Benjamina Gunn as she is here – shout out to Miss Piggy.) The natives are hopelessly cliche and borderline offensive but you don’t go to the Muppets for tact and nuance, you go because you know that at some point, Statler and Waldorf will appear, and it will be uniformly excellent.
Tim Curry portrays that old rogue Long John Silver and he does it with relish. One interesting thing to consider though is that I recently read a review of the Muppet Christmas Carol in which it said that the reason that film is so beloved is because Michael Caine plays the role of Scrooge so straight. There are no nods or winks to the camera or any acknowledgement that he is surrounded by anthropomorphic bits of cloth, Caine is as serious in that film as in any during his long career. Now Long John Silver by his very nature is quite a camp and theatrical character but there is a feeling that Curry over eggs the pudding a little here. That being said, Muppet Christmas Carol is genuinely a 10/10 film for me so I wasn’t expecting Treasure Island to run it close and so it doesn’t.
Muppet Treasure Island is a fun and funny slice of escapism that does a good job in bringing a classic story to life while still being true to the Muppets and their legacy. It may not be their finest hour cinematically but it still has a lot of worth. Also, I kinda prefer the Muppet Treasure Island ending to the actual one in the book… Again, I’m not sure what that says about me.