Connect with us
Image: Disney

Film

40 years later: The Great Muppet Caper is a Very Different Muppet Adventure

Revisiting The Great Muppet Caper 

Roger Ebert famously once said that “good movies rarely feature a hot air balloon.” That’s a reliably true maxim, although one of the rare exceptions is 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper, the second film from the original run of Muppets movies. That movie begins with Kermit and Gonzo in just such a balloon. 

Many movies about Muppets are, literally, about the Muppets- primarily an exploration of them as characters. That’s what The Muppet Movie and Muppets Take Manhattan, the two movies that flanked Great Muppet Caper, were about, and that’s also the case with 2011’s reboot, The Muppets. 

The Great Muppet Caper was the first of a different sort of Muppets movie; one that stuck the Muppets into roles as if they were actors. While there’s a lot to love in the movie, that approach kind of puts the characters at a remove and doesn’t deliver the type of emotional payoffs that came in the other movies. 

Image: Disney

The film was released in June of 1981, 40 years ago this week. It’s not the best of the early Muppets movies, but it showed a brand new way for a Muppet movie to exist- one that would be used many times in the ensuing years, most recently with 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted. With its jewelry heist plot, European adventure, and a seemingly endless parade of human celebrity cameos, Muppets Most Wanted was practically a remake of The Great Muppet Caper. 

Jim Henson directed The Great Muppet Caper himself, while it was written by old Muppet hand Jerry Juhl, along with Tom Patchett, Jay Tarses, and Jack Rose. At the time it was made, shortly after The Muppet Show went off the air, most of the original behind-the-scenes crew of the Muppets was still alive and in the picture. 

The film has Kermit and Fozzie as newspaper reporters who, in a running joke, are twin brothers who no one can tell apart. They’re sent to London to investigate a jewelry heist and are soon drawn into a web of intrigue, including Miss Piggy being confused for a wealthy heiress. 

The main human characters are Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg, known to Game of Thrones fans as Olenna Tyrell) and her brother Nicky (Charles Grodin, whose work in the film was fondly remembered by many fans following his passing earlier this spring.) Also showing up were the likes of Peter Falk, Peter Ustinov, John Cleese, and Jack Warden, with Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, and other Muppet guys also making on-screen appearances. 

Image: Disney

The film did some somewhat revolutionary things in taking the Muppets out of their usual world. We even see Kermit and Miss Piggy riding bikes, which could not have been an easy scene to stage, nor the Esther Williams-esque synchronized swimming scene.  

And, like so many other Muppet movies, The Great Muppet Caper was a musical featuring 15 different songs in its running time of just 97 minutes. The songs are good, if nowhere nearly as transcendent as the music from The Muppet Movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan, or the 2011 Muppets

Image: Disney

The Great Muppet Caper, like most other Muppet content, is available to stream on Disney+. While it’s clear that the Muppets are far from the highest content priority for Disney, it’s great to have a place to call up and stream the entirety of the Muppet Show, as well as most Muppet movies. 

While it’s not the best movie featuring the Muppets or anything close to it, The Great Muppet Caper mostly stands the test of time, 40 years on. 

Now Streaming

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches of All time Greatest Royal Rumble Matches of All time

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

Wrestling

Don West Don West

Remembering Wrestling Sports Broadcaster Don West

Culture

The Last of Us Infected The Last of Us Infected

The Last of Us Looks for Love in a Hopeless Place with “Infected”

TV

Hear Me Out Hear Me Out

Hear Me Out Never Finds Its Own Voice

Film

Kaleidoscope Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope (2023): How the Newest Hypnotic Netflix Toy Stumbles with its Unique Format

TV

The Last of Us When You're Lost in the Darkness The Last of Us When You're Lost in the Darkness

The Last of Us Begins with the Bleak, Familiar “When You’re Lost in the Darkness”

TV

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches of All time Greatest Royal Rumble Matches of All time

Top 5 WWE Wrestlers To Win The 2023 Royal Rumble

Wrestling

Bill Nighy is a Living Marvel in This Kurosawa Remake

Culture

WWE Royal Rumble 1992 WWE Royal Rumble 1992

Why the 1992 WWE Royal Rumble Match is Still The Best

Culture

Sundance 2023: The Eight Must-See Films at the Festival

Culture

maxwell jacob friedman maxwell jacob friedman

MJF and Three Potential First-Time Feuds for 2023 

Culture

When It Melts movie review When It Melts movie review

When It Melts Continues an Important Conversation with Unflinching Pathos

Culture

Magazine Dreams Review Magazine Dreams Review

Magazine Dreams is a Volcanic Study of A Self-consuming Bodybuilder

Culture

Ranking The Chicago Bulls Dynasty Opponents In The ’90s

Culture

WWE sale - Vince McMahon WWE sale - Vince McMahon

The Available Options For A Potential Sale Of WWE

Culture

They’re All Alright: Ranking the Ten Best That ’70s Show Characters They’re All Alright: Ranking the Ten Best That ’70s Show Characters

They’re All Alright: Ranking the Best Characters fromThat ’70s Show

Culture

Connect