Movie Review

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Muppet Treasure Island

reviewed by Dr. Barbara Mack Ph.D.

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Self-Help Parent Meter (Scale based on PG-13 films)
0 = Little or none      5 = Great amount or highly

Sex: (0)
Profanity: (0)
Violence: (2)
Fright: (1)

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Feb. 20, 1996

With a yo ho ho, "Muppet Treasure Island" (G) takes off on the high seas of fun. This is a delightful children's film filled with Jim Henson's Muppets, adventure, humor and song.

In this take-off of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale, young Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) is given a treasure map by a dying old sea captain. With his pals, the Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat, Jim boards a sailing ship to search for Treasure Island and its hidden riches. The ship's Captain Smollett (Kermit the Frog) skillfully guides the boat to the mysterious island. There, the evil Long John Silver (Tim Curry) and his pirate cohorts abduct Jim and head for the buried treasure.

The captain, Gonzo and Rizzo follow the group in hopes of rescuing Jim. (Steve Whitmire is the voice of Kermit and Rizzo, while Frank Oz is the voice of Miss Piggy.) To the captain's surprise, he meets his old love, Benjamina Gunn (Miss Piggy), the queen of the island warthogs. The pirates capture the couple and hang them upside down over a cliff. With the discovery of the lost treasure, swordplay, cannon fire and more fighting ensue. The film then comes to a satisfying conclusion as good triumphs.

Long John Silver, the villain in "Muppet Treasure Island," is an interesting character. Before he reveals himself to be a pirate, he and Jim discover that both of their fathers were sailors who died when their sons were young. Jim shows Long John his prize possession, a compass that once belonged to Jim's father. Long John then turns on the boy, taking him hostage and stealing his compass. Although Long John is a scoundrel and a thief, he eventually gives the irreplaceable compass back to Jim.

Long John is a villain who is not all evil, for he shows compassion. This grey area in morality is unusual in children's films. Youngsters might be confused, but parents can use that scene to stimulate a discussion of morality with their offspring.

This film contains no sex or profanity. It does have some violence, but the violence is all right for most children. Some very young children (under three years-old) might be frightened by the loud sounds and drama of certain scenes. I heard little ones scream in the theater during a few tense moments. For those sensitive young children, seeing the film on video in a few years is recommended. "Muppet Treasure Island" is a treat for most children, and parents might enjoy it, too.

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