The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

I spent some time with some old friends…

I decided to revisit The Great Muppet Caper.

If The Muppet Movie is a generalized version of how our friends all met and decided to go to Hollywood to get rich and famous, then The Great Muppet Caper is the first film they make after they’ve signed their standard rich and famous contract at the end of the first film.

In the opening number, Kermit tells us that he and Fozzie are playing ace reporters, and identical twins no less, and Gonzo is their photographer.

They’re well aware of the fact that they are in a movie, and constantly refer to the need for exposition, emotional range, credits and have no problem playing to the camera for a gag.

They are trying to solve the mystery of who stole Lady Holiday’s (Diana Rigg) jewels, We find out in the opening number that it’s her cad of a brother Nicky (Charles Grodin) who uses Lady Holiday’s trio of models to help him.

In a comedy of errors though, Miss Piggy ends up posing as Lady Holiday, and Kermit and she fall in love as our heroes try to solve the mystery. But the stakes are raised when Gonzo learns that Nicky and his trio are planing to steal Lady Holiday’s Baseball Diamond (which rests on a piece of red velvet shaped like a ball glove).

There are some great sequences, including the amazing musical number wherein our favorite muppets are all riding bicycles, which we see in wide shots, I know how they do it, and it still looks amazing!

Piggy is thrown into a love triangle, she wants Kermit, Kermit is in love with her, but is upset when he learns that she lied about being Lady Holiday (though he quickly forgives her of course), and Nicky has fallen head over heels for her.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t find all the songs as catchy as those in the first film, although “Hey! It’s a Movie!”, “Happiness Hotel” and “Steppin’ Out With a Star” are good muppety fun. I’m sorry to say I never cared for the water musical number. I do like the script, there’s a lot of little throwaway lines that are downright hilarious.

There’s this exchange between a father and daughter as they walk through the park and see Kermit, sitting looking forlorn…

“Look dad, there’s a bear!”

“No Christine, that’s a frog, bears wear hats.”

When Piggy is arrested for stealing Lady Holiday’s jewelry, though at this point Nicky is under suspicion, even by her! She yells at him as she’s taken away, “You can’t even sing! Your voice was dubbed!”

As the gang races to stop the crooks from stealing the Baseball Diamond from the Mallory Gallery, in disguise of course, with glasses, fake noses and mustaches, Piggy escapes from prison, and races to join them on a motorcycle.

They have a final showdown with Nicky and his cohorts, and bring us a happy ending (of course).

There aren’t quite as many recognizable celebrity cameos this time around as there were in the first film, but the two most recognizable ones are Peter Falk, Jim Henson himself, Peter Ustinov, Oscar the Grouch and John Cleese, but each of them make their moments shine.

Just like the Muppets.

Each and every one of our favorite characters gets their moment to play in the spotlight, but it is undeniably Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo’s film, and of course Piggy’s.

One can’t help but love the work of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson and Richard Hunt, along with the countless others who bring our friends to life.

Happy sigh.

I love the muppets.

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