|CHARACTERS • HOME VIDEO|
SOUNDTRACK • MORE
|Released||February 16, 1996|
|Written by||Robert Louis Stevenson (author), Jerry Juhl, Kirk Thatcher and James V. Hart (screenplay)|
|Music||Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil (songs) and Hans Zimmer (score)|
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures|
Muppet Treasure Island is the fifth feature film to star the Muppets, and the second produced after the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson. Released in 1996 and directed by Jim Henson's son Brian Henson, it was one of many film adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.
As in the earlier Muppet Christmas Carol, the key roles are played by human guest stars -- in this case, Tim Curry as Long John Silver and Kevin Bishop as the protagonist Jim Hawkins -- while the Muppets filled in supporting roles, including Kermit the Frog as Captain Smollett, Fozzie Bear as young Squire Trelawney, and Miss Piggy as Benjamina Gunn. Following their success as the narrators of The Muppet Christmas Carol, Gonzo and Rizzo appear in specially-created roles as Jim Hawkins' best friends.
The film follows the book's events but altered by the Muppets.
Jim Hawkins and his close friends Gonzo and Rizzo are orphans and work at the Admiral Benbow Inn under the ownership of bossy landlady Mrs. Bluveridge, who seems to be able to hear things a mile away. Also living in the inn is Billy Bones, who claims to be a former pirate and was the mate of legendary pirate Captain Flint. After Jim, Gonzo and Rizzo sing about how "There's Got To Be Something Better", a mysterious blind pirate, Blind Pew, appears and gives Billy Bones a black spot. Billy explains all his stories were true and he must flee before his fellow crew members come to kill him. However, he instructs Jim to take his treasure map and warns him of the "One-Legged Man", before suddenly dying of a heart attack. Pirates soon attack the inn and an explosion in the storeroom sets the inn on flames, but all the occupants escape.
Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo arrive in Portsmouth where they seek out Squire Trelawney who examines the treasure map, and he agrees to fund a voyage to locate the treasure. The group, accompanied by Dr. Livesey, his assistant Beaker and Mr. Bimbo, the man who lives in the squire's finger, go to the dock and board the galleon, The Hispaniola. Jim and his friends meet the cook, Long John Silver, the first mate Mr. Arrow, and finally Captain Abraham Smollett. The ship sets out, with a host of bizarre crew members and several songs to go with them. Three pirates attempt to convince Rizzo and Gonzo to tell them where the map is by torturing them, but they are locked in the brig. This event prompts Smollett to lock the map in his safe. Silver tricks Mr. Arrow into leaving the ship in a lifeboat, and gains his keys, allowing his friends to steal the map.
Jim and the others learn of his mutiny plan, but Jim is captured and taken with the pirates to Treasure Island. Smollett, Gonzo, and Rizzo follow but are soon captured by tribal wild boars, who present them to their queen, Benjamina Gunn. Benjamina previously had a relationship with Smollett but he left her at the alter. Silver finds the former burial spot for the treasure but when the other pirates attempt to kill him, he allows Jim to escape. Jim rescues Gonzo and Rizzo, while Silver and his pirates surprise Smollett and Benjamina. Benjamina reveals the treasure is in her chamber, but she and Smollett are tied upside down on a clifface, to fall to their demises when ropes are snapped by a pair of flame pits. The two reform their love for each other through song ("Love Led Us Here") and are saved from death by the other heroic crew members, including the alive Mr. Arrow. A battle breaks out between the heroes and pirates on the shores of the island, pirate Sweetums joining the heroes. Smollett takes on Silver but loses his sword. Jim and the others gang up on Silver, and he surrenders.
That night, Silver locates Mr. Arrow's keys in his pocket and manages to escape the ship with some treasure. Jim allows him to leave, with Smollett congratulating him for his bravery, saying "your father would be proud." Mr. Arrow then reveals that the boat Silver took was unstable - leaving poor Silver swimming to shore. The remaining crew heads back to the mainland, celebrating their victory.
The movie's songs were written by pop songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, whose hits include "On Broadway", "Blame it on the Bossa Nova", "Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp Bomp Bomp", "Just Once" and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place".
The movie offered Mann and Weil the opportunity to write theatrical music. Weil said, "We went for a Broadway thing here. When we began working with Brian Henson, we wrote the first song like a kid's song." That song was dropped: "We looked at the rest of the Muppet movies and saw how hip the music was. It was a challenge to write the songs from a theatrical standpoint instead."
The soundtrack album was released on CD in 1996.
- Muppet Performers
- Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Kevin Clash, Bill Barretta, John Henson, Frank Oz, Louise Gold, Nigel Plaskitt, John Eccleston, Simon Buckley, Katherine Smee, Andrew Spooner, Robbie Barnett, James Barton, Michael Bayliss, Charles Broughton, David Bulbeck, Dave Chapman, Marcus Clarke, Sue Dacre, Taylor David, Geoff Felix, Mike Gallant, Pat Garrett, Barnaby Harrison, Mark Jefferis, William Todd Jones, Robin Kingsland, Steven Kynman, Christopher Leith, Anthony Lymboura, Mark Mansfield, Joan Morris, Rebecca Nagan, Margaret O'Flaherty, Angie Passmore, Peter Passmore, Marie Phillips, Colin Purves, Mike Quinn, Peter Robbins, Gillie Robic, Helena Smee, John Thirtle, Ian Thom, Heather Tobias, Jurgen Tombers, Ian Tregonning, Rob Tygner, James Vaughan, John Wheatley, Victoria Willing, Phil Woodfine, Sarah Wright, Paul Zerdin (Uncredited: Patrick Comerford, Brian Herring, Ronnie LeDrew, Steve Nallon, Karen Prell, Axel Rathgeber, David Showler)
- Human Cast
- Tim Curry as Long John Silver
- Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins
- Billy Connolly as Billy Bones
- Jennifer Saunders as Mrs. Bluveridge
- Danny Blackner as Short Stack Stevens
- Peter Geeves as Black Eyed Pea
- Harry Jones as Easy Pete
- Jerry Nelson as Butler
- David Nicholls as Captain Flint
- Frederick Warder as Calico Jerry
- Jessica Hamilton as Big-Fat-Ugly-Bug-Face-Baby-Eating O'Brien (uncredited)
- Muppet Characters
- Gonzo as himself
- Rizzo the Rat as himself
- Kermit the Frog as Captain Abraham Smollett
- Miss Piggy as Benjamina Gunn
- Statler and Waldorf as Ship Figureheads
- Fozzie Bear as Squire Trelawney
- Bunsen Honeydew as Dr. Livesey
- Beaker as himself
- Sam the Eagle as Samuel Arrow
- Polly Lobster, Clueless Morgan, Mad Monty, Blind Pew, Black Dog, Angel Marie, Old Tom, Real Old Tom, Dead Tom, Spotted Dick, One-Eyed Jack, Walleye Pike, Sweetums, Jacques Roach, Calico, Wander McMooch, Begoony, Mudwell the Mudbunny, Brool the Minstrel, Murray the Minstrel, Mr. Curly Twirly, Gray Frackle, Wolf, Dodo, Beggar, Headless Bill, Mr. Bitte, Old Joe, The Undertaker, Lyle the Dog, Lew Zealand
- Minor/Background Characters
- Floyd Pepper, Zoot, Animal, Janice, Dr. Teeth, the Swedish Chef, George the Janitor, Rowlf, Robin the Frog, Bean Bunny, Inkspots, Link Hogthrob, Crocodile, Monkey, Snakes, Skulls, Sprocket, Flaubert, J.P. Grosse, Pops, Mr. Plagueman, Winny, Eugene, Droop, Koozebanian Phoob, Laundress, Whatnots, Rats, Island Heads, Geri and the Atrics, Raccoons, Aretha, Pigs, Big Snort, Chickens, Dogs, Wolfhound, Cows, Goat, Moose Head, Bananas, Cactus, Green Frackle, Mosquitos, Richmond the Horse, Weasels, Crabs, Octopus
- Executive Producer: Frank Oz
- Producers: Martin G. Baker and Brian Henson
- Costume Designer: Polly Smith
- Associate Producer: Michael Jablow
- Puppeteer Coordinator: Kevin Clash
- Assistant Puppeteer Coordinator: Nigel Plaskitt
- Supervising Art Director: Alan Cassie
- Production Manager: Peter Coogan
- Choreographer: Pat Garrett
- Stunt Coordinator: Nicholas Powell
- Muppet Workshop
- Project Supervisor: Mark Zeszotek
- Production Unit
- Muppet Stunt Supervisor: Fred Buchholz
- 1st Unit Captain: Maria Boggi
- 2nd Unit Captain: Janet Knechtel
- Mechanical Captain: Chris Barton
- On-Set Technicians: Astrig Akseralian, Denise Baseley, Malcolm Evans, Jane Gootnick, Ann Marie Holdgruen, Larry Jameson, Peter MacKennan, Tom Newby, Helen Pitcher, Mark Ross
- Muppet Workshop New York
- General Manager: Edward G. Christie
- Creative Supervisor: Tim Miller
- Character Design Consultant: Michael K. Frith
- Designers & Builders: Rollie Krewson, Peter MacKennan, Paul Hartis, Anne Marie Holdgruen, Jane Howell, Matt Brooks, Mary Brehmer, Eric Engelhardt, Ronald Binion, Elena Pellicciaro, Janet Kuhl, Philip Rathke, Heather Asch, Laurent Linn, Susan Doyle, Abigail Belknap, Mark Ruffin, Katherine Profeta, Henri Ewaskio, Jean-Guy White, Ron Cole, Barret Schumacher
- Costumes Supervisor: Constance Peterson
- Costumes: Patricia Farr, Carmel Dundon, Barbara S. Davis, Christine Andrews-Moyes, Muriel Stockdale, Victoria Ellis, Thomas L. Prager, Goran Sparrman, Sara Iams, Robert W. Jones, Lisa Boquist, D. J. Gramann II, Stephen Rotondaro, Carol Spier
- Milliner: J. Douglas James
- Electro-mechanical Effects Supervisor: Larry Jameson
- Electro-mechanical Effects Senior Designer: Tom Newby
- Electro-mechanical Effects Designers: J. Leonard Carroll, Jon Gellman, Tim Hawkins
- Handprops Designer: Fred Buchholz
- Handprops Builders: Rich Hocheimer, Cindy Fain, Peter Goebel
- Fabric Dying & Painting: Jason Weber
- Foam Lab Technician: James Chai
- Miniatures Construction: Jim Henson's Creature Shop
- Visual Supervisor: John Stephenson
- Miniatures Supervisor: David Sharp
- Miniatures: Terry Bridle, Paul Stephenson, Vincent Abbott, Derek Hedeker, James Rokos, Craig Duncan, Elizabeth Ragland, Sander Ellers, Richard Perkis, Joel Collins, Colin Childs, Wolf Wasserman
- Figurines Supervisor: Verner Gresty
- CGI Characters: Hal Bertram, Karen Halliwell
- The fourth wall is broken several times over the course of the movie:
- Rizzo the Rat comments when Billy Bones has his heart attack "He died? And this is supposed to be a kid's movie!"
- Statler comments on being "stuck to the front of this stupid ship", and Waldorf replies "Well, it could been worse. We could be stuck in the audience!"
- A line in "Cabin Fever" says "I'd like to get my hands on whoever wrote this script".
- Clueless Morgan comments on the "Cabin Fever" musical number
- Long John Silver gives his crewmates stage directions during the "Professional Pirate" number, saying "Upstage, lads, this is my only number" as they carry him across the camp.
- A tomato on the Swedish Chef's ingredient tray says "How else did you think we were going to get him into this movie?" (after which the Chef whacks it with a large mallet).
- A rat conducts a tour of the island referring to the place as the location for the movie Muppet Treasure Island.
- Statler comments that saving Smollett and Benjamina made them heroes, and Waldorf replies "Well, it was too late to save the movie!"
- Because Frank Oz was in the process of directing Bowfinger at the time, he was too busy to appear on set for most of the filming. Kevin Clash puppeteered his characters in Oz's absence, and Oz looped their voices in post-production.
- In early development for the film, Gonzo and Rizzo would've been the lead characters, named "Jim" and "Hawkins" (respectively). Robin the Frog was also considered for the role, potentially being aged up. Another abandoned concept was Long John Silver having a pet parrot - first the flirty Amazonia the Parrot, later changed to Stevenson the Parrot, who would constantly complain about the inaccuracies between the film and the book.
- This marks the first major role for Sam Eagle in a Muppet movie.
- When Bad Polly orders Clueless Morgan to "give it to him" (referring to the Black Spot given to Long John Silver), Clueless originally replied, "I'm not even attracted to him." At one of the final test screenings, with families present, a mother complained about the line and it was subsequently re-dubbed (to "But, it's not even his birthday.").
- After "Shiver My Timbers", a pig is seen holding a stein that is caricatured after Muppet producer Martin Baker.
- In the UK, the majority of the lines which contain the word "bloody" have been redubbed:
- Billy Bones' line "How does she bloody do that?" is changed to "How does she bloomin' do that?"
- Black Dog's line "Billy's dead and he hasn't got the bloody map." is redubbed as "Billy's dead and he hasn't got the bloomin' map".
- Long John's line "Where's the bloody treasure?!" has become "Where's the blasted treasure?!"
- When aired on ABC on May 27, 2001, the following scenes were cut:
- The song "Something Better."
- The introduction to the scene following the night at The Admiral Benbow Inn, including a woman selling potatoes.
- The principal characters initially making their way towards the ship while on the dock.
- Squire Trelawney congratulating Mr. Bimbo on preparing the voyage.
- Some of Captain Smollet's arrival is cut, including an elderly woman shouting at the speeding carriage.
- Part of the early conference in Captain Smollet's office, in which Long John Silver unsuccessfully attempts to give the officers alcohol.
- Jim Hawkins' line "I'm sorry your present didn't work out" in the scene that follows is replaced by a new line (dubbed in by a different actor): "And then he told us all to get out".
- Portions of the crew's restlessness prior to the "Cabin Fever" musical number.
- When Long John Silver decides not to shoot Jim Hawkins, the line "Oh, Hell, Jim" is edited to remove "Hell".
- When aired on ABC Family, the following scenes were cut:
- A portion of the first Squire Trelawney scene (mentioning "the big, blue, wet thing").
- Statler and Waldorf's first appearance as the Masthead.
- Some of Captain Smollet's arrival, including an elderly woman shouting at the speeding carriage and Sam's mention of Smollet's "demons."
- Captain Smollet asking some of the crew to join him in his cabin following the role call.
- When shown on BBC 1, the following line "Where's the blasted treasure?" is only half redubbed; Long John is heard to say "Where's the..." as if he was going to say the original US version's line "Where's the bloody treasure?", but then instantly says the redubbed "...blasted treasure?" part of the line.
- Muppet Treasure Island (video)
- Muppet Treasure Island (soundtrack)
- Muppet Treasure Island (Muppet Sing Alongs)
- Muppet Treasure Island (video game)
- McCormick, Moira. "Angel Sets Sail with Muppet Treasure Island: Soundtrack First Family Title for Classical Label", Billboard. February 24, 1996.
- Patrick Comerford's resume
- Brian Herring's official website
- Interview with Ronnie Le Drew
- Steve Nallon's official website
- Kirk Thatcher on Getting Felt Up podcast, episode #25 (00:07:45)
- "Screen Play: An interview with Muppet Treasure Island screenwriter Jerry Juhl!", MuppetZine issue 16. Spring 1996.
- Kirk Thatcher interview on The Nerd Lys Episode #134 (00:59:00)