Sometimes Amusing, But Often Dull
JLFM - wrote on 07/13/13
For whatever reason, the Muppet films simply do not click with me. Granted, I think The Muppets Take Manhattan and the 2011 reboot are near masterpieces, but I've found myself relatively bored with the rest of the Muppet films. The Great Muppet Caper is a bit of a mixed bag for me. While the last 40 minutes or so is essentially devoid of any sort of laughter or entertainment, there are some parts in the first hour that are very funny. And yet the laughs were few, and while there were plenty of smiles, even a hesitant recommendation may not be hesitant enough.
The weirdly complicated plot involves Kermit, Fozzy, and Gonzo placed in charge of investigating a jewelry robbery (as they are newspaper reporters). The jewelry was stolen from Lady Holiday, whom Kermit wishes to interview, though due to an unfortunate mix-up, Kermit mistakes Miss Piggy for Lady Holiday, leading up to several complications. In addition, another jewelry thief takes place, and Miss Piggy is framed!
There's more to the plot than that, but most other details are unnecessary. And that's one of the problems with this film; unnecessary detail. The movie is way too busy. Nicky Holiday (Lady Holiday's brother) develops feelings for Miss Piggy, but this adds absolutely nothing to the story. Many other plot threads like this are in this film, and many of them should've been cut.
I've already mentioned that the last 40 minutes are dull, and believe me; they are an absolute snooze fest. And they're also completely nonsensical. The convoluted plot suddenly takes a sharp tune from the mildly serious, to an "anything goes" kind of finish. It's not particularly satisfying if you had to ask.
And then we have the breaking of the fourth wall which happens far too much. Personally, I find it funny when a film breaks the fourth wall, but this is a kind of humor that's much better in moderation. The fact that the fourth wall is broken over half a dozen times before the opening credits are over should tell you something about the over-use of this kind of humor.
And yet, despite these flaws, there are times when The Great Muppet Caper is pretty fun. John Cleese and Joan Sanderson have arguably the funniest scene in the film portraying a British elderly couple at breakfast having a deliciously droll and satirical conversation that's nearly impossible not to smile during. Jack Warden also gets a funny cameo as a newspaper editor, as does Robert Morley as a British Gentlemen.
Of course, there are a number of memorable lines as well, and the technical aspect of many scenes is quite astounding.
The musical numbers are certainly a mixed bag. "Hey, a Movie," is forgettable and the onscreen events are chaotic and cluttered. "Happiness Hotel" is an extremely clever and upbeat song, and one of the best songs in the film (it's also very well choreographed). "The First Time it Happens" is the standout of the film, with catchy lyrics, and great choreography. And lastly, "Couldn't We Ride" is immensely dull, despite some nifty onscreen special effects.
Charles Grodin as Nicky Holiday is forgettable, but then again, so is the character. Diana Rigg gets some great lines as Lady Holiday, and is easily the standout of the (admittedly small) human cast.
The score, composed by Joe Raposo, is a simple parody score. Like most of the Muppet scores, the music works fine for the film, but it's not likely to hold up well when taken away from it.
Falling squarely in the middle of the Muppet films, The Great Muppet Caper has some amusing scenes, but dull stretches, a convoluted plot, and fourth wall joke overkill, stops it from achieving a higher rating. Still, I came away from the film humming one or two of the songs, and recalling some funny cameos, so I suppose The Great Muppet Caper succeeds to at least some extent.