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The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

Family Rated PG

Ballooning. Biking. Swimming. Parachuting. The Great Muppet Caper represented a giant leap for Muppetkind, in only their second big-screen outing. The usual pleasures are all here – meta winks, an absurd sense of logic, lots of felt –but director Jim Henson and his puppeteers seemed especially intent on giving themselves logistical challenges this time around. At the movies these days, we no longer ask ourselves, “How did they do that?” because the answer is always: computers. But here we watch Kermit doing a handstand while riding a bike or Miss Piggy indulging in a Busby Berkeley-like display of water ballet, and we wonder. It feels good to wonder. The plot of The Great Muppet Caper, such as it is, sends Kermit and Fozzie as investigative journalists (and identical twins) to England where a jewel thief is on the loose. Said thief is played by an invaluable Charles Grodin, whose natural sleaze and limited acting ability has rarely been used to such pitch-perfect effect.