Muppet Treasure Island

Muppet Treasure Island
Muppet Treasure Island

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian Henson
Produced by Brian Henson
Martin G. Baker
Screenplay by Jerry Juhl
James V. Hart
Kirk R. Thatcher
Based on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Starring Kevin Bishop
Tim Curry
Jennifer Saunders
Billy Connolly
Muppet Performers:
Steve Whitmire
Frank Oz
Dave Goelz
Jerry Nelson
Kevin Clash
Bill Barretta
John Henson
Music by Hans Zimmer
Harry Gregson-Williams
Barry Mann (songs)
Cynthia Weil (songs)
Cinematography John Fenner
Editing by Michael Jablow
Studio Jim Henson Productions
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) February 16, 1996 (1996-02-16)
Running time 95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million
Box office $34,327,391

Muppet Treasure Island is the fifth feature film to star The Muppets. It was released in 1996 and directed by Jim Henson's son Brian Henson. It was one of many film adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Similarly to the earlier Muppet Christmas Carol, the key roles were played by human stars, with the Muppets in supporting roles. The human cast consisted of Tim Curry as Long John Silver, Billy Connolly as Billy Bones, Jennifer Saunders, and introducing Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins. Kermit the Frog appeared as Captain Abraham Smollett, Fozzie Bear as Squire Trelawney, Sam the Eagle as Mr. Samuel Arrow, and Miss Piggy as the gender-flipped castaway "Benjamina" Gunn. Following their success as the narrators of The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat appeared in specially created roles as Jim's best friends.



While featuring the Muppets' usual good-natured slapstick humor, several musical numbers, and the occasional twist, the film stays fairly true to the familiar Stevenson storyline. Jim Hawkins, the son of a first mate, works with his friends Gonzo and Rizzo at an inn which caters to sailors, including Billy Bones, who frequently tells a tall-tale of pirate Captain Bernie Flint and how he buried his treasure on an island ("Shiver My Timbers"). Jim finds his life boring and dreams of adventure on the high seas ("Something Better"). One night, 'visually challenged' pirate Blind Pew arrives at the inn and confronts Bones (who actually sailed with Captain Flint and is a former shipmate of Blind Pew), leaving him with a piece of paper bearing the dreaded 'Black Spot'—a traditional pirate death sentence. Bones prepares to leave, realizing that Blind Pew and his other former crew mates will come to kill him, but suddenly dies of a heart attack, leaving a treasure map from his sea chest to Jim. The map is the same one that leads to Captain Flint's treasure. Blind Pew and the pirates suddenly raid the inn, leading to much confusion that ultimately results in the inn burning down when Gonzo and Rizzo have an accident with a lit candle and some gunpowder.

Jim and his friends travel to Bristol to obtain a ship to find the treasure and meet with Squire Trelawney, who agrees to finance the voyage (he is clearly eccentric and believes a character called 'Mr. Bimbo' lives in his finger). On the ship Hispaniola, Jim and the others meet the crew for the voyage, including uptight First Mate Samuel Arrow and ship's cook Long John Silver. Gonzo is suspicious of one-legged Silver, as Billy Bones frequently warned of a 'one-legged man', but Jim doesn't agree. The voyage begins after no-nonsense Captain Abraham Smollett arrives, and they set sail in high spirits ("Sailing for Adventure").

It becomes evident, though, during the roll call, that the crew all seem to be scoundrels. Trelawney admits that 'Mr. Bimbo' has recruited them, as it was on the advice from Silver. Captain Smollett's doubts about them are given credence when Polly (Silver's pet lobster), Clueless Morgan, and Mad Monty kidnap and torture Gonzo and Rizzo to learn about the location of the rumored treasure map. They are caught in the act by Mr. Arrow who then locks them up in the brig on Smollett's orders. Following this incident, Smollett has Mr. Arrow lock the map in his cabin. While discussing this with his new friend Silver, Jim accidentally mentions that there is a map and its location. Playing on Mr. Arrow's doubts about the safety of the ship, Silver tricks him into rowing away from the Hispaniola to test a lifeboat. Arrow leaves Silver with his keys, having reasoned that it would be disastrous if the keys were to fall overboard. Silver and the crew convince everyone else that Mr. Arrow drowned. During their voyage, the wind dies, and they are left at a standstill in the ocean, causing them to temporarily become insane with cabin fever ("Cabin Fever").

While snacking on some apples in a barrel, Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo overhear Silver warning the escaped Polly, Clueless Morgan, and Monty to not mutiny until he says so and reveals his involvement in Mr. Arrow's disappearance. Jim finally realizes that Silver is a villain. Captain Smollett, alerted to Silver's treachery by Jim, convinces Silver to take the crew ashore as they approach Treasure Island planning to abandon them there. However, Silver is wise to the captain's plan and kidnaps Jim. Silver tries to convince Jim that he should join the pirates ("A Professional Pirate") as Captain Smollett, Gonzo, and Rizzo row ashore to attempt a rescue. Unfortunately, this leaves the ship open to be taken over by a few pirates who stayed behind and easily overpower the Squire, Dr. Livesey (Bunsen Honeydew) and Beaker. Jim is forced to help the pirates find the treasure using his father's compass, but there is no treasure, and the pirates turn against Silver for having them mutiny against the captain for nothing. Silver holds the pirates off after forcing Jim to escape, stating that liking Jim as a friend is the one thing Silver didn't lie about.

Meanwhile, Captain Smollett, Gonzo, and Rizzo are captured by the wild boar tribe native to the island and brought before their queen ("Boom Shakalaka"), who turns out to be Benjamina Gunn, a former fiancée of the captain. While she berates Smollett for having jilted her years ago, Jim rescues Gonzo and Rizzo. They return to the ship with the aid of Mr. Arrow, who has suddenly turned up in his lifeboat alive, and scare the pirates away by having Mr. Arrow pose as his own ghost. The other pirates decide to kill Silver and give him the Black Spot (that Monty draws on a page torn from a Bible), but Silver plays on their superstitions and tricks them into reinstating him as their leader. Meeting up with the captain and Benjamina (who had previous flings with Silver and Captain Flint, who marooned her), Silver threatens to drop Smollett off a cliff unless Benjamina tells him where she hid the treasure (which she took for herself). Once she tells him, though, the pirates leave them both facing a plunging doom. Smollett assures 'Mina that at least they are together again ("Love Led Us Here").

Captain Smollett and 'Mina are rescued by Jim and the others aboard the Hispaniola, and they battle the pirates, ultimately winning the help of the local tribes and Sweetums (who was actually on Smollett's side all along). They load up the treasure and prepare to return to England with the pirates in the brig, but Silver escapes (since he still had Mr. Arrow's keys with him) and flees in a lifeboat with some of the treasure. Jim catches him escaping, and Silver attempts to shoot Jim, but ultimately realizes he can't kill the boy. Touched by this, Jim advises Silver to just leave, and he does. Smollett, having witnessed this, assures Jim that he did the right thing, and that his father would be proud. However, Mr. Arrow reveals to Jim and the captain that the lifeboat Silver took has a leak. The boat sinks, and Silver is left marooned on the treasure island as Jim and the others (now joined by Benjamina's tribe) set sail again, this time to "wherever the wind may take us".

During the credits, an Island Head tells a marooned Long John Silver a joke: "Why does the ocean roar? Give up? You would too if you had crabs on your bottom and oysters in your bed."


Live-action actors

  • Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins: A good-natured orphan boy who for most of his life has worked at Mrs. Bluberidge's inn but has always dreamed of nautical adventures. He is an incredibly trusting boy, which proves to be somewhat of a downfall for him.
  • Tim Curry as Long John Silver: A deceptively charming pirate who befriends Jim Hawkins at first, until he is overheard by Gonzo, Rizzo, and Jim as he reveals his dastardly plans to his fellow pirates aboard the Hispanola. During Silver's siege on Treasure Island it is suggested that Long John Silver and Benjamina Gunn share a romantic history. At the end of the film, Long John makes off with whatever treasure he can in what is later revealed to be a leaky lifeboat - but not before saying a rather touching goodbye to Jim Hawkins, where he declares he could "never hurt" Jim, because he is "honest and brave and true".
  • Jennifer Saunders as Mrs. Bluberidge: A plump, loud lady who owns the Admiral Benbow Inn where Jim and his friends work. She has an uncanny ability to know when people are not doing what they should be doing, which leads to various characters exclaiming, "How does she do that?!" Though rough with the "boys," she does show a genuine concern for Jim, helping him escape the pirates before seeing them off herself.
  • Billy Connolly as Billy Bones: An ex-pirate, previously a member of Captain Flint's crew who witnessed the burial of gold on Treasure Island and tells Jim he still has the map to the treasure before he suffers a fatal heart attack. (During a live performance in Dublin in 2002, Connolly jokingly claimed to be the only man to ever die in a Muppet movie.[1] In fact, in the movie, Rizzo points this out: "He died? And this is supposed to be a kids' movie!")
  • David Nicholls as Captain Flint: A pirate who buried the treasure at his own island years ago, and abandoned his crew.

Muppet performers

  • Frank Oz as:
    • Miss Piggy as Benjamina Gunn: Captain Smollett's ex-fiancee, who lives on Treasure Island and is worshiped as "Boom Shakalaka" by a tribe of primitive boars. She makes a notably inept entrance which does nothing to cement her reputation as a sex symbol.
    • Fozzie Bear as Squire Trelawney: A half-wit son of the real Squire Trelawney who has trouble grasping the concept of what the ocean is. He also says he has an imaginary man in his finger named Mr. Bimbo, who tells him everything. Kevin Clash performed Squire Trelawney; Oz provided his voice.
    • Sam the Eagle as Mr. Samuel Arrow: The overly formal and rather melodramatic First Mate on the Hispanola.
    • Animal as Himself.
  • Jerry Nelson as:
    • Statler as Ship Head.
    • Lew Zealand as Himself: He appears as one of the pirates on Long John Silver's side.
    • Blind Pew: A blind pirate that comes looking for Billy Bones. He later takes part in the attack on the Admiral Benbow Inn.
    • Floyd Pepper as Himself
    • Island Heads: A bunch of Moai-like sculptures that are seen on Treasure Island.
    • Mad Monty: One of the pirates that is one of Long John Silver's henchmen alongside Polly Lobster and Clueless Morgan.
    • Robin the Frog as Himself.
    • Monkey: A monkey seen in the opening number who would become Sal Minella on Muppets Tonight.
  • Kevin Clash as:
    • Polly Lobster: A lobster who serves as Long John Silver's "parrot" and is one of Long John Silver's henchmen alongside Clueless Morgan and Mad Monty.
    • Spa'am: The chief of the native pigs on Treasure Island.
    • Real Old Tom: A mummified person who is one of the pirates on Long John Silver's side.
  • Bill Barretta as:
    • Clueless Morgan: A goat who is one of Long John Silver's henchmen alongside Polly Lobster and Mad Monty.
    • Dr. Teeth as Himself
    • Flaubert: Benjamina Gunn's pet anteater.
    • Mudwell the Mudbunny: A character from Fraggle Rock who makes a cameo as one of the pirates on Long John Silver's side.
    • Rowlf the Dog as Himself.
    • The Swedish Chef: Dressed as a pig chef for the native pigs. A talking vegetable quips, "How else were we going to get him into this movie?"
  • John Henson as:
    • Sweetums as Himself: One of the pirates on Long John Silver's side who defects to Abraham's side.


Track listing

  1. "Treasure Island"
  2. "Shiver My Timbers" (Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Brian Henson, Frank Oz, Kevin Clash, Bill Barretta, and John Henson)
  3. "Something Better" (Kevin Bishop, Goelz, and Whitmire)
  4. "Sailing for Adventure" (Curry, Bishop, Nelson, Goelz, Whitmire, Brian Henson, Oz, Clash, Barretta, and John Henson)
  5. "Cabin Fever" (Nelson, Goelz, Whitmire, Brian Henson, Oz, Clash, Barretta, and John Henson)
  6. "Professional Pirate" (Curry, Nelson, Goelz, Whitmire, Brian Henson, Oz, Clash, Barretta, and John Henson)
  7. "Boom Shakalaka" (Nelson, Goelz, Whitmire, Brian Henson, Oz, Clash, Barretta, and John Henson)
  8. "Love Led Us Here" (Oz, Whitmire)
  9. "Map"
  10. "Captain Smollett"
  11. "Land Ho"
  12. "Compass"
  13. "Long John"
  14. "Rescue"
  15. "Honest Brave and True"
  16. "Love Power [As Used in the Film Muppet Treasure Island]" (Ziggy Marley, Melody Makers)
  17. "Love Led Us Here" (John Berry, Helen Darling)

Scores not on the soundtrack album

  1. Isn’t That a Story Worth the Hearin’
  2. Lighting the Lamp (Segues into "Something Better")
  3. Blind Pew
  4. The Hispaniola
  5. Many a Dark-Hearted Scoundrel/One-Legged Man
  6. This Voyage Has Begun (Seuges into "Sailing For Adventure")
  7. Moonlit Dance (Played by Electric Mayhem Band)
  8. Waiting to Pounce
  9. Give Me the Map/No Wind
  10. Mutiny
  11. Never Get Involved in Politics (Electric Mayhem Band)
  12. "A Professional Pirate" (Full version, with instrumental interlude)
  13. Benjamina Gunn
  14. Treasure Hunting
  15. You Dare to Give ME the Black Spot?
  16. Return of Mr. Arrow
  17. The Pirates Attack/Sneaking Aboard/Where’s the Bloody Treasure?!
  18. Long John Escapes
  19. Sailing for Adventure (Finale)


Muppet Treasure Island received generally positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 71% of critics gave the film positive reviews.[2] The film was also a commercial success, grossing $34,327,391 during its theaterical run and surpassing the grosses of The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Muppets Take Manhattan and The Great Muppet Caper.[3][4]


This is the second Muppet film co-produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film has been made available on home video formats. It was released on VHS September 11, 1996, and twice on DVD in Region 1. The first DVD release on June 4, 2002, was in a fullscreen-only format. The film was re-released on DVD November 29, 2005, in conjunction with Kermit the Frog's 50th anniversary celebration; this time the DVD contained both fullscreen and widescreen presentations.


The Hormel Foods Corporation, who are the creators of Spam, sued the film production company for using the name "Spa'am" for one of the film's warthog characters.[5] Their suit was defeated on September 22, 1995. The judge dismissed it after a trial for failure to prove damages, noting, "one might think Hormel would welcome the association with a genuine source of pork."[6]


External links

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