The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for any recurring gag

Take a Drink: for each celebrity cameo

Take a Drink: whenever Charles Grodin looks like he’s got a hangover

Drink a Shot: for each musical number

Write Down: your favorite bit part muppets (Example: Swedish Chef, Animal, Beaker etc) and Drink a Shot when they make an appearance.

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –

Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear are identical twin reporters for a big city paper. (Yes, I said Identical. What…? You don’t see the family resemblance?)

Twins

When the Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg) has her diamonds stolen, Fozzie Kermit and ace photographer Gonzo travel to England to interview her, and become embroiled in a conspiracy to steal even more of her diamonds.  While staying at the ironically named Happiness Hotel (a rat-infested slum flophouse), the team meets up with numerous expatriated Muppets who help them along the way.  Meanwhile, Miss Piggy is an aspiring high fashion model who the conspirators frame for the thefts in a made up scheme to throw the scent off their even crazier scheme to steal the fabulous Baseball Diamond.  Fozzie and Kermit uncover the plot and decide to ambush the diamond thieves in the act, to clear miss Piggy’s name and save the day.

A Toast

The Muppets return for their second theatrical outing filled with Meta references and self-aware goofery.  This time around, celebrity cameos are fewer, and the story given a somewhat greater emphasis (this is all relative to the first film, of course).  The Great Muppet Caper features the same sharply written comedic sequences that made The Muppet Movie such a beloved film, and has the added bonus of having been directed by Jim Henson himself.  The film is full of running jokes that only get funnier with each repetition, such as the aforementioned “identical twin” fiasco.

FozzieFrog
What the &$#% is that?

It seems as though Henson set out to one-up the prior film at every turn, both in story and technically.  Whereas the first film showed the Muppets standing up, walking around, and even riding a bike, this time around the sequences are longer, the movements more complex, and believable.  In scenes where the Muppets couldn’t be believably manipulated via classic puppeteering, they were outfitted with electronic motors and servos to make them move. There is also a lengthy underwater puppeteering sequence, and a scene where Muppets climb up the side of a building, and no guide-sticks or hands are visible.

One bike HA!  Give us an army!
One bike HA! Give us an army!

While the Muppets themselves are essentially cartoonish puppets, the Henson company went to great lengths to conceal the “strings”. This attention to detail paid off in the screenplay, which feels more polished than The Muppet Movie.  Jokes are set up and paid off more often, and with greater consistency.

Like the first film, the music of The Great Muppet Caper is an easy highlight of the series, this time around composed entirely by Joe Raposo, who is also known for his work on Sesame Street.  While there isn’t a powerhouse single like “Rainbow Connection”, the songs are better produced and more consistently good this time around.  The highlight for me is the “Happiness Hotel” song;

This song is a rollickingly dance-hall number which is so chock full of wit and clever humor that its total irrelevance to the plot is never even considered.

Beer Two

Charles Grodin seems so hell-bent on looking downtrodden that I wonder if he wasn’t three sheets to the wind during the entire shoot.  He doesn’t look very happy to be there.  It would explain his hungover appearance in several scenes.

Above: Grodin at any point in the movie.
Above: Grodin at any point in the movie.

Ordinarily this wouldn’t be a major complaint, but other actors seem just as confused.  It led me to wonder whether Jim Henson was giving much direction to the human actors on set.  It is also painfully obvious in Jack Warden’s cameo that he is reading from cue-cards, as his eyes wander off to the left of the screen often while reading lines, and in shots where he’s supposed to be looking directly at someone.  I’m sure there were some budget constraints and production challenges, but the budget was higher this time around, so it seems unlikely that should have impacted things so severely.

Verdict

Another solid entry to the Muppets canon, easily the equal of if not somewhat better than the original film.

2Beers

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they're confused about something) at least a few times a week. I've gotten way off track here... The point is, Oberst is one of the website's founders, so... yeah

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