This follow-up to 1979‘s The Muppet Movie is a little heavier on the plot and a little lighter on the celebrity cameos but otherwise quite similar in tone. More important, it’s just as funny in the same lightly sophisticated but still kid-friendly way.
Caper is structured almost identically to the first, with one of the key Muppets in a tight spot and the rest banding together to help out. In this case, Miss Piggy has been framed as a jewel thief by the brother (Charles Grodin) of a famous fashion designer, Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg). Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear are intrepid reporters and also twin brothers (in one of the ultimate cases of “Just go with me on this one, okay?”).
Fired from their job for failing to notice a jewel heist going on right under their noses (Hey, give them a break. They were in the middle of musical number), they head off to England to interview the victim, Lady Holiday. Their travel budget is so small that they don’t so much land in Britain as they are cargo-dropped from a plane on its way to Italy. Their accommodations, the “Happiness Hotel”, are so run down that “sneaking out in the middle of the night” is the most popular payment option. It is also the “in” place for Muppets to stay when in London, because this is where they find all of their fellow foam and felt-covered compadres.
This film manages to top the first’s famous “frog riding a bicycle” scene with its own “every damn Muppet under the sun rides a bicycle” scene. In addition, you also get a “pig rides a motorcycle” scene, a silly sub-plot in which Miss Piggy is mistaken for Diana Rigg (“Just go with me on this one, okay?”), two running gags, a lot of self-referential humor in which the fourth wall is blasted to smithereens and one Esther Williams-inspired musical number.
What we don’t get is enough Diana Rigg. I’m sorry, but when you have Emma Peel in your cast and use her this little, that’s just a crime.
Still, The Great Muppet Caper gave me everything I expected and wanted from a movie starring Muppets, mostly good-natured humor. It would be a mistake to expect anything more, like Dog Day Afternoon, unless the dog in question is playing the piano.