Muppet Treasure Island Parent Guide
A hilarious muppet remake of the classic pirate tale that will become a family tradition.
Parent Movie Review
Over 400 Muppets and more humans than any other Muppet movie are gathered together for Muppet Treasure Island, the latest Henson offering. As usual, the Muppets cash in on their enviable marketing ability, appealing to adults as much as children, with corny puns and tongue-in-cheek humor woven into the serious themes presented in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel.
Like any other self-respecting pirate yarn, this movie tells a tale of hidden pirate treasure, a priceless map, dangerous murdering buccaneers, cannibals, treachery, and a beachfront battle. But young Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) has no idea that he’s heading into a world of peril until he meets a sailor (Billy Connolly) who dies of terror after he sees the “black spot”. When Jim is given the treasure map, he heads for London to hire a ship, helmed by the redoubtable Captain Smollett a.k.a. Kermit the Frog (Frank Oz). The ship’s crew are a shady bunch, but Jim is soon befriended by the cook, the one-legged Long John Silver, played with irresistible verve by Jim Curry. Sadly, it’s not plain sailing, and when a faction in the crew attempts to seize the map, mutiny breaks out.
Given the story line, it’s not surprising that there are several threatening scenes, including some where men try to kill Jim and others which depict mass murder and torture, albeit without any gory detail. The Muppets do their best to help you laugh your way through the bad guys with the frogs, rats, and pigs obscuring the more serious content; however younger children may be frightened as they won’t understand some of the humor.
For the big kids (including the parents), there are enough sight gags and asides to always keep the story interesting. One favorite of mine was the ongoing Pirate Cruise, featuring the Muppet rodents in full tacky touristy outfits and miniature cameras. “We put the RAT in Pirate,” announces the cruise director as they pile onto the ship. As usual, a place has been found for all the Muppet regulars, including the Swedish chef making cannibal soup, with the introductory line of, “How else could we fit him into this movie?” Like other Muppet movies, this soundtrack ranges from the fun “Shiver My Timbers” and “A Professional Pirate” to the horrendously corny “Love Led Us Here”. And its version of “Boom Shakalaka” is so bizare, so over the top that it’s unforgettable.
The beauty of Muppets is they don’t have egos. Even Miss Piggy can’t bite the hand that moves her, as she only plays a small part at the end of the movie. On the other hand, their human counterparts seem to be having a near-criminal amount of fun. Tim Curry in particular stands out, throwing himself into the role of avuncular pirate with wild abandon. Whether or not you like the Muppets, this movie is worth watching for Tim Curry alone. For all its strangeness, this movie really is buried treasure.Directed by Brian Henson. Starring Tim Curry, Kevin Bishop, Billy Connolly, Jennifer Saunders, Dave Goelz. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release February 15, 1996. Updated March 19, 2020
Watch the trailer for Muppet Treasure Island
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The original “Treasure Island” novel, by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a literary classic. It may be a little verbose for younger readers, but kids ten and up will certainly enjoy this tale of adventure, treasure, and treachery on the high seas.
“How I Became a Pirate” by Melinda Long is a picture book suitable for much younger readers.
Older teens and adults might enjoy “Pirate Latitudes” by Michael Chrichton, the tale of an ambitious treasure heist by a small but wily crew of privateers out of Jamaica.
Horatio Hornblower is an icon of novels about the Age of Sail, created by C.S. Forrester, starting with 1937’s “The Happy Return” (known in the United States as “Beat to Quarters”). Certainly no pirate, Hornblower runs a tight ship of Her Majesty’s Navy as he navigates dangerous seas and the treacherous politics of the 18th century.
The most recent home video release of Muppet Treasure Island movie is December 10, 2013. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Muppet Treasure Island & The Great Muppet Caper: Of Pirates & Pigs Collection
Release Date: 10 December 2013
Disney has paired together the movies Muppet Treasure Island and The Great Muppet Caper, in an Of Pirates & Pigs Collection. This Blu-ray package includes:
- Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along: Sing, howl and croak along with Kermit and the gang.
-Muppet Treasure Island – “Cabin Fever”
-The Great Muppet Caper–“Steppin’ Out With A Star”
DVD Release Date: 29 November 2005
In commemoration of Kermit’s 50th Anniversary, Buena Vista Home Entertainment is releasing to DVD in a restored and re-mastered format The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Muppet Treasure Island. Sold individually, each film offers a Pepe Profiles Present interview with one of the Muppet stars. The Muppet Christmas Carol also features a gag reel, a Christmas Around the World music video and audio commentary by Brian Henson. All of the discs provide the movie in full and wide screen, with audio tracks in English and French.
Related home video titles:
Older kids and teens will enjoy Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the best of which is easily The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Herge’s Tintin features a search for lost pirate treasure, titled Adventures of Tintin
Stardust, adapted from a Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, features a kind-hearted group of flying pirates who sail the skies in search of lightning.