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 dates
  • 26 June 1981 (1981-06-26) (US)
  • 26 December 1981 (1981-12-26) (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 mystery musical comedy film directed by Jim Henson about the Muppets who must travel to England 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 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 series of The Muppet Show.

Plot[edit]

Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo the Great play newspaper reporters for the Daily Chronicle. Kermit and Fozzie, specifically, are playing identical twin reporters, which becomes the source of a running gag - supposedly, nobody can tell they are twins unless Fozzie removes his hat. While Gonzo is too busy taking pictures of a chicken, prominent London fashion designer Lady Holiday gets robbed of her jewels. The trio are eventually assigned to investigate the theft of the valuable jewels from Lady Holiday, which they have to beg for after their supervisor Mike Tarkenian dismisses them following the Daily Chronicle's headline about the twins joining the staff (while the other papers report on the jewel heist).

They travel to London to interview her, but with only $12 for the trip, they are forced to fly in the aeroplane's baggage hold and are thrown out of the plane as they arrive over Britain as it continues on to Italy. They stay at the dilapidated (but free) Happiness Hotel which is run by Pops and populated by Scooter, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, Sam Eagle, Swedish Chef, Rizzo the Rat, Annie Sue, and Lubbuck Lou and his Jughuggers. When Kermit seeks out Lady Holiday in her office however, he instead finds the alluring Miss Piggy, and mistakes her for the fashion designer. Piggy, who was interviewing for a job, poses as Lady Holliday, even going so far as to sneak into a local townhouse at 17 Highbrow Street to impress Kermit with her dwellings, much to the surprise of the actual British residents Neville and Dorcas.

At a night club restaurant, Lady Holiday's necklace is stolen by her jealous brother Nicky and his assistants 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 Holliday's largest and most valuable jewel, the Fabulous Baseball Diamond, now on display at the local Mallory Gallery. However, Gonzo is under a nearby table and overhears the plot. Kermit's crew, along with their friends from the Happiness Hotel, decide to intercept and catch the thieves themselves to exonerate Miss Piggy.

The Muppets arrive at the Mallory Gallery, and get to the Baseball Diamond at the same time as the thieves, use the Baseball Diamond in a game of keep away and later baseball, complete with Louis Kazagger commentating. Meanwhile, Piggy escapes from prison and, in a bout of serendipity, finds a motorcycle which she uses to crash into the Gallery's window, knocking Nicky, who is holding Kermit hostage, out in the process. Carla, Marla and Darla confront Piggy, only to be immediately dispatched by 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 which concludes with Gonzo taking a photo of the audience with his overly powerful flashbulb causing the screen to go black as if he blinded his subjects again.

  • A constant theme of the movie is that they break the fourth wall, and acknowledge they're in a movie.

Cast[edit]

  • Charles Grodin as Nicky Holiday, Lady Holiday's brother. He commits jewel heists on his sister assisted by three of her fashion models, Carla, Darla, and Marla.
  • Diana Rigg as Lady Holiday, a famous British fashion designer who has been the victim of a jewel heist.
  • 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 John 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 a Man in Park
  • 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 Man in Restaurant, who is a table guest 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 driver of a car.
  • 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, The Muppet Movie, Muppets Most Wanted and Muppet Treasure Island.

Critical reception[edit]

The Great Muppet Caper has received generally positive reviews. The film holds a 79% approval rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 6.4/10, based on 19 reviews. 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 on 5 June 2001 and subsequently on 29 November 2005 by Walt Disney Pictures as Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition. Oscar the Grouch is not one of the Muppets acquired by Disney because he is owned by Sesame Workshop.

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 Great Muppet Caper: Original Soundtrack
(1981)
The Muppets Take Manhattan: Original Soundtrack
(1984)
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]