- Movie Rating -

The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

| June 26, 1981

One of the things that I love about The Muppets is the way in which, no matter what they are doing, the plot gets out of their way.  This was true of their TV show and of their first movie two years ago.  Yes, they get in situations but never so dire or so involving that it spoils the fun.  That’s kind of the problem with their second outing, The Great Muppet Caper, a movie that lets them be but also demands that they be part of an involved plot.

What makes the Muppets work are their personalities and how they bounce off of one another.  We can see how Miss Piggy’s insecurity is balanced by her love for Kermit, and we can see how Fozzy’s overconfidence is matched by Kermit’s down-to-Earth approach.  Those qualities were present in the TV show and in the first movie, but they’re not really part of the tapestry here.  Somehow in getting involved in a caper plot they lose their individuality.

The story is pretty simple.  Kermit and Fozzy are reporters who are headed to London to report on a massive diamond – The Baseball Diamond – that has been stolen.  I liked the setting.  I liked the way in which the Muppets attack Britain but something here is missing.  The freewheeling nature of their other adventures is too tied down here as they get involved in the crime.

Once again, of course, the movie dives head-first into the courtship of Kermit and Piggy and Piggy really becomes the star of the show.  She’s involved in at least two dance numbers, one of which allows her to tap dance and you can sense the love and affection that Jim Henson and his crew have for this character.  Piggy’s insecurity and her frequent attempts to correct those who doubt her talent are coupled nicely with her devotion to her little green paramour.  They have a bike riding scene here that is kind of magical.  Plus, they have their differences.  It’s nice that it isn’t all peaches and cream and that they are at odds with each other now and then.  This time they are at odds with her courtship with a cat burglar played by Charles Grodin that I thought stole the show.

I wish the movie were more about that.  Much of the running time is taken up with the Muppets trying to foil the robbery.  In those scenes they aren’t individuals, but a massive pack of shag and fur.  We don’t get those great individual moments with them that we did on television.  Why is that?   We did we need the diamond plot?  Just set the Muppets free in the world and let them do their damage.  They work better when they aren’t tied down.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized