The Muppets Take Manhattan

“Look, buddy, I don’t take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is ‘artistic'”

The Scoop: 1984 G, directed by Frank Oz and starring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Dave Goelz

Tagline: No tagline

Summary Capsule: The Muppets try to take on Broadway, and Miss Piggy shanghais Kermit into marriage.

Lissa’s Rating: I have to say it again, just because it’s a line you’d never expect in a kids’ movie: Look, buddy, I don’t take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is “artistic”. Heehee!!!!

Lissa’s Review: So one might think the backstory of why I decided to review Muppets Take Manhattan is predictable. Yet another kids’ movie, right? Well, no. Actually, when one of our Forum regulars announced his upcoming nuptials, he was serenaded with the line “somebody Somebody SOMEbody SOMEBODY”, which was either “Somebody to Love” by Queen, or (my other guess) “Somebody’s Getting Married” from Muppets Take Manhattan. This got me in the mood to see my beloved Muppets again, and in the interest of reviewing, I actually watched the whole thing instead of just watching the songs.

The Muppet Movie is still my favorite of the Muppet movies. Wow, that sentence sounded repetitive, but you know what I mean. The first one had the most snark, the most sarcasm, the most blatant innuendo, the most grown-up humor. But that doesn’t mean that the sequels didn’t have any of those things, and Muppets Take Manhattan has a charm of its own.

The year is sometime in the 1980’s, as evidenced by Miss Piggy’s tight perm and shoulder pads. The Muppet gang has just graduated college, and is now trying to sell a musical that Kermit wrote to Broadway. Of course, it’s not that easy, and the gang gets discouraged and goes their separate ways. All except for our little green friend, who stays on working at Pete’s Diner and fighting to get his musical the attention it deserves. And when it finally does… well, let’s just say Kermit should have practiced Frogger more.

It’s a fun plot, and it’s got all the inanity and tongue-in-cheek humor you could want. It certainly acknowledges the implausibility of Muppets wandering around New York. Kermit kicks off the whole movie with a line that admits how ludicrous the entire premise is… “It’s not often that a frog and a bear and a chicken and a… whatever… even get into college.” From that point on, the humor runs the gamut from silly slapstick (like Animal bringing down a sleazy con man) to the off-beat (Gonzo, need I say more?) to the satirical (the character of Pete) to the flat-out sexual. (Don’t believe me? How about Kermit’s lovely little speech when Piggy tells him he’s in love with her… “Ah, the sounds of love! Sooo-eeeeee!” Or there’s two choice lines in “Somebody’s Getting Married”- “somebody get a sweet negligee”, and “somebody rent a room.” The sex humor is there. And I’ve just demonstrated I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old. Oh well.) Anyway, my point is, you can’t help but laugh.

The music is great as well, for the most part. I’m a huge fan of the finale, and I also have always found “Saying Goodbye” to be a sweet, touching little piece that makes me cry when I’m feeling extra-hormonal. Rizzo’s scat song in the coffee shop is a little on the dull side, and none of the songs have the longevity of “Rainbow Connection” or the biting wit of “Hope That Something Better Comes Along”, but they’re still catchy and fun. Muppets Take Manhattan might be the third best of the Muppet movies, but that doesn’t mean it’s remotely terrible.

Is there anything not-so-great about it? Oh yeah. The humans. Not so much those infamous celebrity cameos (who this time include Gregory Hines, Joan Rivers, Liza Minelli, Linda Lavin, Brooke Shields, and a host of other people I don’t really recognize because I was too young at the time to know who they were), and not so much Louis Zorich, who played Pete, but Jenny (Juliana Donald) and Ron (Lonny Price). Seriously, straight out of high school acting class. Of course, their characters don’t have much good to say, and have some pretty cheesy lines, but still. Oh well. Can’t have everything, I suppose.

I could gush on and on about the things I enjoy, because that’s what the Muppets make me do. They make me want to point out jokes and tell them to people and say “did you see that scene with Scooter and the movie house?” This movie makes the four year old kid in me squeal in delight at the appearance of Ernie and Bert, makes the thirteen year old obnoxious teenager in me laugh at Piggy’s remarkably crass attempts to get Kermit to marry her, makes the twenty-one year old college student in me raise my eyebrows at what got past censors, it makes the twenty-seven year old bride in me weepy and sentimental, and makes the thirty-one year old me sing off key and write long internet reviews about how great it is. And how can you not love a movie like that?

Miss Piggy is running around somewhere dressed as Natasha.

Intermission!

  • Okay. Wedding scene, when ALL the Muppets are singing. The Sesame Street crew is on the same side as the pigs. Kermit is the ONLY Muppet who was a regular on both Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. So, by following rules of etiquette, shouldn’t the Sesame Street people be seated on the frog side, not the pig side?
  • The fantasy sequence with the Muppets as babies was so popular, it resulted in the successful cartoon spinoff “Muppet Babies”, which I totally remember watching.
  • Cameos out the wazoo!
  • Ernie and Bert, Big Bird, and the rest of the Seseme Street crew
  • Don’t hit on a pig. It’s scary.
  • That actually is Sardi’s, and that actually is the manager/owner
  • Butter skates. You know you want to try them.
  • I am never, ever eating at any coffee shop in New York called “Pete’s.”
  • How quickly all these extra dogs and bears and chickens and things were costumed and learned their parts?
  • Kermit must have really lousy health insurance.
  • Attack of the Killer Fish. That really sounds like something we should review.
  • Where did the gum come from?
  • Is It Worth Staying Through End Credits? If you want to hear some of the songs again. And, of course, Animal lets you know when they’re over.

Groovy Quotes

Martin Price: Songs and dances? Might be interesting. No one cares about shootings anyhow.

Martin Price: Get back or the chicken gets it!
Police Officer: That’s a threat?

Pete: Big city, hmm? Live. Work, huh? But. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples. Okay?
Kermit: Thanks. That helped a lot.

Rizzo the Rat: What’s this supposed to be?
Pete: Is grits! Grits! Hominy grits!
Rizzo the Rat: How should I know how many? Count ’em yourself.

The Swedish Chef: Yaa da poppin’ corn is… 3D! Da corn is popping in your face inna.. 3-D!

Movie: The killer fish are attacking!

Miss Piggy: Oh, dear Lord! Not jogging!

Gregory Hines: Keep the skates. I never use ’em anyway – I just like to run around in shorts.

Pete: Rats cooking, frog washing, pig waitress… is no coffee shop, is zoo!

Ronnie Crawford: Dad! Dad! I’ve got great news!
Bernard Crawford: If you two are in love, I don’t wanna know about it.

Ronnie Crawford: Well I told you… I want to do something different!
Bernard Crawford: So put some Jell-O down your pants!

Janice: So I said, “Look, buddy. I don’t take my clothes off for anybody, even if it is ‘artistic’,”

Gonzo: Mr. Mayor! Mr. Mayor, I’m looking for a frog who can sing and dance!
The Honorable Edward I. Koch: If he can balance the budget, I’ll hire him!

Statler: Well, Waldorf, they finally made it to Broadway.
Waldorf: Yes, and I already bought tickets.
Statler: Are they good seats?
Waldorf: Sure are. They’re on the next train out of town.

Kermit: Me? In love with a pig? Wait ’til I tell the guys in marketing. Maybe you expected me to go HOG-wild? Perhaps you could bring home the BACON! Ahhh… the sounds of love: su-EEEEE! Oink, oink!
Miss Piggy: Cancel the show! Hi-yah!

Miss Piggy: I only know he’ll make me happy, that’s all I need to know.

Preacher: So because you share a love so big, I now pronounce you frog and pig.

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5 Comments

  1. Great review. This was the first Muppet movie I saw, so it’s always got a special place in my heart. Bummer that all the movie footage they used in Muppet Babies has kept it forever off my DVD shelf, though.

  2. An unfortunate aspect of this film is how it increased Rizzo’s prominence in the Muppets franchise (his presence in Great Muppet Caper was minimal). While I don’t hate him to the same degree that Justin does, he is quite annoying.

  3. Pingback: Statler and Waldorf: The Nagging Grandpa's in The Muppet Show

  4. Pingback: Eunice does The Great Muppet Caper | Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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