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The Great Muppet Caper

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The Great Muppet Caper
The poster of the movie The Great Muppet Caper.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed by Jim Henson
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music by Joe Raposo
Cinematography Oswald Morris
Edited by Ralph Kemplen
Production
companies
Distributed by Universal Pictures1
Release date
  • 26 June 1981 (1981-06-26) (US)
  • 30 July 1981 (1981-07-30) (UK)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
Country
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Language English
Budget $14 million[2]
Box office $31.2 million[3]

The Great Muppet Caper is a 1981 British-American mystery musical comedy film directed by Jim Henson, marking his feature directorial debut. The film is about the Muppets who must travel to London to stop a jewel heist. It is the second of a series of live-action musical feature films, starring Jim Henson's Muppets. The film was a British-American venture produced by Henson Associates and ITC Entertainment, and originally released by Universal Pictures1 on 26 June 1981. It is also the only Muppet feature film directed by Henson. Shot in Great Britain in 1980, the film was released shortly after the final season of The Muppet Show.

Plot[edit]

The film begins with Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo the Great commenting on the opening credits from a hot-air balloon and introducing the premise of the movie to the audience. Throughout the film, the characters frequently break the fourth wall, discussing (for example) each other's acting choices and singing ability in the middle of a scene.

Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo play investigative reporters for the Daily Chronicle. Kermit and Fozzie, specifically, play identical twin reporters, which becomes the source of a running gag—supposedly, nobody can tell they are twins when Fozzie removes his hat. After the trio fail to report on a major jewel robbery, they ask their editor to allow them to travel to London to investigate the robbery and interview the victim, prominent fashion designer Lady Holiday.

With only $12 for the trip, they are forced to travel in an aeroplane's baggage hold and are thrown out of the plane as it passes over Britain. They stay at the dilapidated (but free) Happiness Hotel, which is populated by other Muppet characters such as Scooter, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, Sam Eagle, the Swedish Chef, and Rizzo the Rat. When Kermit seeks out Lady Holiday in her office, however, he instead finds her newly-hired receptionist, the alluring Miss Piggy, and mistakes her for the fashion designer. Piggy poses as Lady Holiday, and asks Kermit out for dinner; to keep up the pose, she allows Kermit to assume she lives at a "highbrow" address. She sneaks into a townhouse at 17 Highbrow Street to wait for him, much to the surprise of the actual upper-class British residents, and they go to dinner at a nightclub.

At the nightclub, Lady Holiday's necklace is stolen by her jealous brother Nicky and his accomplices Carla, Marla, and Darla, three of her put-upon fashion models, the very same thieves who robbed her before. After the robbery, Miss Piggy's charade is revealed and she flees, leaving Kermit behind, though they later reconcile in a park. Despite Nicky's instant attraction to Miss Piggy, they frame her for the theft and plan to steal an even more valuable prize: Lady Holiday's largest and most valuable jewel, the fabulous Baseball Diamond, now on display at the local Mallory Gallery. Gonzo overhears their plot; and Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and the other Muppets decide to intercept the thieves and catch them red-handed to exonerate Miss Piggy.

The Muppets sneak into the Mallory Gallery, and get to the Baseball Diamond at the same time as the thieves. They try to keep the diamond out of the thieves' hands via a game of keep away, which turns into baseball, but Nicky eventually catches the diamond and takes Kermit hostage. However, in the meantime, Piggy has escaped from prison, and she races to the Mallory Gallery, crashing through the window on a motorcycle that serendipitously fell off a truck in front of her. She knocks Nicky out and dispatches Carla, Marla and Darla with a flurry of furious karate chops. As the police arrive, all charges against Piggy are dropped, Nicky and his fashion model-accomplices are arrested, and the Muppets get their deserved credit for foiling the heist.

The Muppets then return to the United States the same way they departed, being thrown out of the cargo hold and parachuting back to the USA, over the end credits.

Cast[edit]

  • Diana Rigg as Lady Holiday, a famous British fashion designer who has been the victim of a jewel heist.
  • Charles Grodin as Nicky Holiday, Lady Holiday's brother. Although he falls in love with Miss Piggy, he commits jewel heists on his sister assisted by three of her fashion models, Carla, Darla, and Marla.
  • Erica Creer as Marla
  • Kate Howard as Carla
  • Della Finch as Darla

Muppet performers[edit]

Cameo guest stars[edit]

  • John Cleese as Neville, a somewhat indifferent but kind mannered middle-aged rich British homeowner who lives with his wife Dorcas at 17 Highbrow Street. Cleese had previously guest-starred in a second-season episode of The Muppet Show.
  • Joan Sanderson as Dorcas, Neville's apathetic and somewhat dull mannered wife. Sanderson previously appeared alongside Cleese in the Fawlty Towers episode "Communication Problems".
  • Jack Warden as Mr. Mike Tarkenian, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Chronicle.
  • Peter Falk as Tramp (uncredited)
  • Robert Morley as a British Gentleman by Pond
  • Peter Ustinov as a truck driver, who has his truck stolen by Miss Piggy when she gets indignant over his arrogant rudeness of refusing to give her an emergency ride. Ustinov had previously guest-starred in a first-season episode of The Muppet Show.
  • Jim Henson as a table guest having a snapshot in a restaurant who Gonzo comes across when taking photos of tabled couples in attempts to raise some quick money for his group's meal.
  • Michael Robbins as Henderson, the Mallory Gallery's security guard.
  • Peter Hughes as Stanley, a Maitre D' at the Dubonnet Club and an old acquaintance and favoured patron of Lady Holiday.
  • Peggy Aitchison as a guard at the prison where Miss Piggy is detained.
  • Tommy Godfrey as a bus conductor.
  • Richard Hunt as a cab driver.
  • Jerry Nelson as a man in a park.
  • Christine Nelson as the above's daughter, who mistakes Kermit for a bear, until her father corrects her saying he's a frog; bears wear hats.

Release[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $31.2 million domestically on a $14 million budget thus making it a box office success.[3] It is the fifth-highest grossing Muppet film behind The Muppets (2011), The Muppet Movie (1979), Muppets Most Wanted (2014) and Muppet Treasure Island (1996).

Critical reception[edit]

The Great Muppet Caper has received generally positive reviews. The film holds a 79% approval rating based on 20 reviews on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 6.5/10. The site's consensus says "The Great Muppet Caper is overplotted and uneven, but the appealing presence of Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang ensure that this heist flick is always breezily watchable."[4] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a two star rating (out of four) and concluded his review by saying that "the lack of a cutting edge hurts this movie. It's too nice, too routine, too predictable, and too safe."[5]

Home media[edit]

The Great Muppet Caper was first released on Betamax and VHS in 1982 by 20th Century Fox Video. Jim Henson Video released the film on VHS and LaserDisc in 1993. It was later released on DVD by Sony Pictures and Jim Henson Home Entertainment on 5 June 2001 and subsequently on 29 November 2005 by Walt Disney Home Entertainment as Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released The Great Muppet Caper on Blu-ray and DVD, alongside Muppet Treasure Island, on 10 December 2013.[6]

Music[edit]

In 1982, Joe Raposo was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "The First Time It Happens" but lost to "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" by Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen from Arthur.[7] This was the only one of the first three Muppet films not to be nominated for Best Music, Original Song Score.

In 1981, Miss Piggy won the Youth in Film Award for Best Young Musical Recording Artist for her performance of "The First Time It Happens", becoming the first, and only, non-human recipient in the history of the award.[8]

Soundtrack[edit]

The Great Muppet Caper: The Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by The Muppets
Released 1981
Label Atlantic
The Muppets chronology
The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack
(1979)The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack1979
The Great Muppet Caper: Original Soundtrack
(1981)
The Muppets Take Manhattan: Original Soundtrack
(1984)The Muppets Take Manhattan: Original Soundtrack1984
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[9]

The Great Muppet Caper: The Original Soundtrack contains all of the songs from the film, as well as several portions of dialogue and background score. The album reached #66 on Billboard's Top LP's and Tapes chart in 1981.

Track listing

All tracks written by Joe Raposo.

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "The Main Title" (Instrumental)   2:48
2. "Hey A Movie!" Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear and The Great Gonzo 2:44
3. "The Big Red Bus" (Instrumental)   1:25
4. "Happiness Hotel" The Muppets 3:07
5. "Lady Holiday" (Instrumental)   1:13
6. "Steppin' Out With a Star" Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear and The Great Gonzo 2:32
7. "The Apartment" (Instrumental)   0:54
8. "Night Life" Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem 2:58
9. "The First Time It Happens" Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy 4:13
10. "Couldn't We Ride" The Muppets 3:08
11. "Piggy's Fantasy" (Instrumental)   3:58
12. "The Heist/The Muppet Fight Song/Muppets To The Rescue" (Instrumental)   3:47
13. "Homeward Bound" (Instrumental)   0:52
14. "Finale: Hey a Movie!" The Muppets 1:30
15. "Finale: The First Time It Happens" Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy 1:37

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The film's distribution rights were transferred to Walt Disney Studios in 2004, and the film was subsequently reissued on home media formats as a Walt Disney Pictures release in 2005.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 9 June 1981. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Jones, Brian Jay (2013). "The World in His Head". Jim Henson: The Biography. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 307. ISBN 978-0-345-52611-3. 
  3. ^ a b "The Great Muppet Caper". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 
  4. ^ "The Great Muppet Caper (1981)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Roger Ebert (1 January 1981). "The Great Muppet Caper". Chicago Sun-Times. rogerebert.com. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "'Muppet Treasure Island & The Great Muppet Caper: Of Pirates & Pigs Collection' Blu-ray Dated". High-Def Digest. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "54th Academy Awards Winners". Oscars.org. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "3rd Annual Youth In Film Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Allmusic review

External links[edit]