A Frog, a Bear, and a Pig in a Wig? It's the Great Muppet Caper

By Bradford William Davis

Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy bring Muppet mayhem to London chasing a jewel thief.


Released in 1981, The Great Muppet Caper is the second Muppets movie in a franchise that spans five decades. As with the other films in the long-running series, The Great Muppet Caper is saturated with silly slapstick and peppy songs that hide its wit. The winks and nudges director Jim Henson and company throw in for parents don’t detract from the hope driving the core of its puppet gang — Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, etc — on their quest to catch a jewel thief.

The gags mostly play on the absurdity of these colorful puppets living, breathing (I assume) and purchasing economy flight tickets in our world. More than anything, the Muppets remind us all how much more fun (and absurd) our lives could be with a few sentient marionettes to sing us songs encouraging us to stick with our dreams.

Name: The Great Muppet Caper

Plot: Journalists Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo report to London and chase after a jewel thief, making many friends — man and Muppet — along the way.

Year: 1981

Director: Jim Henson

Age: School-aged children will laugh at Kermit getting pushed out an elevator. Older kids will appreciate the endless puns.

Why your children will like it: The Muppets franchise exudes joy: talking frogs, bears, pigs with blonde wigs, and whatever Gonzo is, all dancing and singing in cheery musical numbers (including the Oscar-winning "The First Time It Happens") fill the movie with an underlying optimism.

Why you’ll want your children to watch it: The movie doesn’t sermonize because the Muppets don’t take themselves seriously enough to be preachy. But, Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo’s persistent chase after their story and the truth is laudable. Faithfully investigating a heist for Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones’ Lady Olenna), a wealthy Brit, promises little in material gain but the gang’s diligence to the truth keeps them going. Their commitment leads them to vindicate a falsely accused and imprisoned suspect and communicates the value of doing the right thing — in a way that viewers of all ages can understand.

Why you’ll stay awake: Jim Henson revels in self-awareness and an abundance of absurdist sight gags. For example, Kermit and Miss Piggy, a frog and a pig, respectively, and even more significantly, puppets, ride bicycles through London. Or, Fozzie Bear and Kermit identify as identical twin brothers. (And people believe them!) Kermit’s frequent fourth-wall breaks address the adult viewer, and all but thank you for showing up to a noisy matinee.