'Treasure Island' is fun, but not typical Muppets

February 16, 1996|By CHRIS KRIDLER | CHRIS KRIDLER,SUN STAFF

Would you entrust your life to a sea captain with Ping-Pong balls for eyes?

Sure, if he's Kermit the Frog, one of the stars of "Muppet Treasure Island." You know nothing terribly bad is going to happen, even when mutinous pirates are aboard. There's not quite enough of the traditional Muppet humor in this latest film, but it's sweet and fun, especially for kids.

Tim Curry is the obligatory human star, as the deceptively friendly buccaneer Long John Silver, who plots to take the buried treasure that cabin boy Jim Hawkins (played by a winning young actor named Kevin Bishop) and his pals seek to find. There are also amusing appearances by Jennifer Saunders ("Absolutely Fabulous") and Billy Connolly.

The best moments are when amusing anachronisms pop up in the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale (like the rats who think the ship is some kind of Love Boat). Absurdity is the Muppets' strong suit; take, for instance, Long John's talking lobster -- instead of a parrot -- named Polly.

Still, there should be more absurdity and less linear thinking if the Muppets are to match their usual zany high points. And since Kermit is such a brave, stalwart Capt. Smollett in this film, one ends up missing his usual vulnerable frogginess and feeling a little wistful for the late Jim Henson, who used to do Kermit's voice.

'Muppet Treasure Island'

Starring Tim Curry, Kevin Bishop and Kermit the Frog

Directed by Brian Henson

Released by Walt Disney Pictures

Rated G

Sun score ** 1/2

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