The Great Muppet Caper
The Great Muppet Caper is a 1981 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 and London in 1980, the film was released shortly after the final season of The Muppet Show.
|The Great Muppet Caper|
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
|Directed by||Jim Henson|
|Music by||Joe Raposo|
|Edited by||Ralph Kemplen|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures[a]|
|Box office||$31.2 million|
Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo are investigative reporters for the Daily Chronicle newspaper. Kermit and Fozzie, specifically, play identical twin reporters, which becomes the source of a running gag: nobody can tell they are twins unless Fozzie is wearing his hat. One day, 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. Statler and Waldorf make appearances throughout the film to heckle them and the audience.
With only $12 for the trip, they are forced to travel in an airplane baggage hold and are literally 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 Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, Scooter, the Swedish Chef, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Lew Zealand, Rowlf the Dog, Sam the Eagle, Pops, Beauregard, Crazy Harry, Camilla the Chicken, and newcomer Rizzo the Rat. The next morning, 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, the real 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, he and his accomplices frame her for the necklace 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. He, Kermit, Fozzie, and the other residents of the Happiness Hotel 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 escapes 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 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 United States, over the end credits. Gonzo breaks the fourth wall, taking the audience's picture. The film cuts to black and we hear him proclaim, "I'll send you a copy!"
- 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
- Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth, Waldorf, the Swedish Chef, The Muppet Newsman
- Frank Oz as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam Eagle
- Jerry Nelson as Floyd Pepper, Pops, Lew Zealand, Louis Kazagger
- Richard Hunt as Scooter, Statler, Sweetums, Janice, Beaker
- Dave Goelz as The Great Gonzo, Beauregard, Zoot, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
- Steve Whitmire as Rizzo the Rat, Lips
- Caroll Spinney as Oscar the Grouch
- Kiran Shah as Miss Piggy (stunt double)
Cameo guest starsEdit
- 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.
- Frank Oz as a Chronicle reporter
- 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 is a frog; bears wear hats.
The film made $20 million in the US and was considered a box office disappointment. Some thought the use of the word "caper" in the title was a mistake.
The Great Muppet Caper has received generally positive reviews. The film holds a 76% approval rating based on 21 reviews on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 6.47/10. 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." 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."
The Great Muppet Caper was first released on Betamax, VHS, and LaserDisc in 1982 by 20th Century Fox Video. Jim Henson Video through Buena Vista Home Video re-released the film on VHS and LaserDisc in 1993. The movie was reissued on VHS by Columbia Tristar Home Video and Jim Henson Home Entertainment in 1 June, 1999. It was later released on DVD by Sony Pictures and Jim Henson Home Entertainment on 10 July 2001 and subsequently on 29 November 2005 by Walt Disney Home Entertainment as Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition (with the exception of Oscar the Grouch owned by Sesame Workshop).
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.
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.
|The Great Muppet Caper: The Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by|
|The Muppets chronology|
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.
|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|
- The film's distribution rights were purchased by The Jim Henson Company from ITC Entertainment in August 1984. The rights were then transferred to Walt Disney Studios upon their parent company's acquisition of the Muppets franchise in 2004. The film has since been subsequently released as a Walt Disney Pictures release.
- Jay Jones, Brian (2013). "Chapter 12: Twists and Turns". Jim Henson: The Biography. Ballantine Books (Random House). pp. 374–375. ISBN 978-0345526113.
- "THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 9 June 1981. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- 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.
- BRITISH PRODUCTION 1981 Moses, Antoinette. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 51, Iss. 4, (Fall 1982): 258.
- "The Great Muppet Caper". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database.
- Harmetz, Aljean (9 September 1981). "HOLLYWOOD IS JOYOUS OVER ITS RECORD GROSSING SUMMER". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
- "The Great Muppet Caper (1981)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
- Roger Ebert (1 January 1981). "The Great Muppet Caper". Chicago Sun-Times. rogerebert.com. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- "'Muppet Treasure Island & The Great Muppet Caper: Of Pirates & Pigs Collection' Blu-ray Dated". High-Def Digest. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- "54th Academy Awards Winners". Oscars.org. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- "3rd Annual Youth In Film Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- AllMusic review
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