Before I begin my review, I should probably admit that I've never read the book Treasure Island, and that I don't have the strong fascination with pirates that some people seem to have. I like them well enough, but talk like a pirate day is a very annoying day for me. My main other source of exposure to this story was Treasure Planet, which I largely felt was a snoozefest.
I had only seen this movie once before, and my memory told me I liked it. I don't know if it was my mood this time around or what, but I had a really hard time paying attention. It started off strong - I really liked Billy Connolly's performance and the silly chase that occurs at the inn, but by the time they got to the ship I was starting to get bored.
Tim Curry does great as Long John Silver, and as far as I'm concerned any day we get to hear him sing is a good day. Kevin Bishop is passable as Jim Hawkins, but I think without Gonzo and Rizzo as his sidekicks this would be a very dull story. A large part of it is also that so many of the Muppets feel like they're just playing cliches of themselves within the context of the story, so it lacks a lot of heart, even if there are some funny lines here and there. Fozzie, for instance, plays a rich idiot who has an imaginary friend who lives in his finger. I know Fozzie's jokes are pretty much always designed to make you roll your eyes, but you're also supposed to feel sorry for him when no one laughs at him, and that just doesn't happen here.
The songs are for the most part passable. I think my favorite is "Cabin Fever," just for the sheer zaniness of it all. It's the kind of silliness this movie desperately needs more of. I think the Henson Co. was scared to take too many liberties this soon after Henson's death. Adapting an established story really just makes this film lacking, and makes it barely a Muppet movie at all. Between this and The Muppet Christmas Carol, I would choose this one anytime; but that's really not saying much because I don't really like Christmas movies.
Fortunately, after some time off, the Henson Co regrouped and decided to work on an original story. Tomorrow I'll discuss Muppets From Space.