Muppet Treasure Island is a childhood classic for me. It's one of those films that I've watched back-to-back on more than one occasion whilst ill or just terminally bored during a damp weekend. However, I haven't revisited it for a long time and I really wasn't sure what it would be like. The result? A competent kids movie with more than a dash of Muppet magic, but fraying a bit around the edges.
Ultimately, the plot is Treasure Island and that's a solid foundation. The recasting of certain characters as Muppets, and the addition of various Muppet-related side stories, all work really well. Gonzo, in particular, continues to be a surprisingly versatile character and the pairing with Rizzo holds up as an excellent comedy duo. The film is also scattered with the kind of quick one-liners and clever visual gags that the Muppets are known for, whether that's having Statler and Waldorf appear as the ship's maidenhead, the starfish throwing stars, the singing stone totems, or just the consistent antics of the rat "tourists", there's a lot that fans of the show will appreciate.
The songs have aged pretty well, with "Professional Pirate" holding up particularly. I still got a kick out of "Cabin Fever", though Alison was utterly incapable of processing what was going on, and I can definitely get that if you're coming at it fresh – it's completely insane! Similarly, I still think the tribal beat going on behind Miss Piggy's entrance is great, but these are definitely opinions tinted by rose-coloured glasses. Fresher eyes will probably find a lot of the lyrics a bit stale, ditto some of the cultural gags throughout.
Muppets aside, the human characters are also far more hit and miss than I recall. Tim Curry is brilliant and I loved seeing (and now recognising) both Billy Connolly and Jennifer Saunders, even if their characters were perhaps a little too pantomime by modern standards. Young Jim, on the other hand... He does the best he can with the lines he's given but wow, there's a lot of 90's kid acting going on here and it feels surprisingly dated. Pacing and dialogue are also feeling a touch rusty.
Slight misgivings aside, though, because the film is made with Muppet actors and real sets it still looks great, most of the jokes still land, and of course the character design – as would be expected from Jim Henson Studios – is just brilliant. I had a great time reliving my past, but maybe I can put it to one side for a decade or two more.