Saturday, May 12, 2018

Movie #457: The Muppets Take Manhattan

The Muppets Take Manhattan is, in my opinion one of the weirder Muppet movies. It stars the usual cast of Muppets, plus humans in the form of Juliana Donald, Louis Zorich, Lonny Price, and a whole host of celebrity cameos, as is customary.

The core Muppets (Kermit, Fozzie, Piggy, Scooter, Rowlf, and the Electric Mayhem) have just graduated from college and decide to take Kermit's original music to Broadway. They go to New York and immediately get an education in how rough that really is, and the group splits up - Kermit stays and starts working as a dishwasher while trying to shop the show, Piggy stays to stalk him, and everyone else heads west (no one gets further than Cleveland, though) to get jobs where they can.

Kermit works at a diner owned by Pete (Zorich) and his daughter Jenny (Donald), and staffed by Rizzo the Rat and his rodent compatriots. The movie is basically Kermit's attempt to get the show on Broadway, which eventually happens because a young producer (Price) finds it and wants to take a chance on it, but then Kermit walks into traffic, gets amnesia, and winds up working as an advertising exec with a bunch of other frogs.

That is not the weirdest thing in this movie. The weirdest thing in this movie is that, while on a buggy ride through Central Park, Piggy wishes she and Kermit could have grown up together, which takes us into a dream sequence with baby versions of the Muppets. You might almost call them...Muppet Babies (which debuted a year later as an animated show, based on positive response to this sequence, which boggles my damn mind).

I didn't realize that there were only 8 Muppet movies. Of those, three of them are kind of meta (The Muppet MovieThe Muppets and The Muppets Most Wanted assume that the Muppets are entertainers and the thrust of the action is about them doing entertainer things, so set in the "real" world in which the Muppet Show was set). Two of them are takes on other stories (Christmas Carol and Treasure Island), and two of them are stories in which the Muppets are playing other characters (Manhattan and The Great Muppet Caper). I have no idea how Muppets from Space fits in since I haven't seen it.

It makes me a little sad that we didn't see more of this sort of Muppet movie - movies in which the Muppets are taking on roles, making "Kermit the Frog" (etc) an actor, but also a character. But I think the world might have moved beyond that point.

In any case, this one is strange, but entertaining, although I was a little disappointed in the musical when we finally get to see it - it's brief and pretty simplistic (compare with Waiting for Guffman where we get a good sense of the whole show-within-a-show even if we only see little bits).

My Grade: B
Rewatch Value: Low

Next up: Murder by Death