It seems like everywhere I go this week, I am confronted with the immortal image of one Mr. Kermit the Frog, and his friends, The Muppets. They are taking over the box-office for the first time in over a decade there is a new film starring the fleece creations of the late great Jim Henson; thanks to How I Met Your Mother star and Muppets devotee Jason Segel writing and starring in The Muppets. For those who are still waiting to get to theatres, or coming home with a certain sense of nostalgia it may be time to dust off your old Muppets DVDs. One particular good trip down memory lane may be 1984's The Muppets Take Manhattan.
For their third feature outing, The Muppets decide to head to the Big Apple with hopes of bringing their show Manhattan Melodies to Broadway. Of course, nothing goes as it should, and the Muppets struggle to achieve their dream as they get involved with a bad producer named Martin Price (Dabney Coleman), who wants them to pay him rather than the other way around. As the gang's collective bank account decreases the Muppets struggle to stay in the city, and work to open the show. The primary subplot involves Miss Piggy's quest to get Kermit to finally marry her. For those who do not remember how that plot ends, it is quite the surprise all over again.
Starting a show is a fairly simple premise that recurs in a number of Muppets films, but their methods change each time with comedic aplomb and a sense of spirit. The jokes play to both kids and adults, also winning for parents is that very little of the humor or references are too dated to not appeal to the whole family like so many other childrens' programs of the 80s. Also, its startling to see how much of Manhattan was featured in the actual film. This is stated because sadly its becoming more and more frequent that movies are shot in Vancouver or Los Angeles posing as New York for every single shot; the setting is only told to us rather than shown. Here director Frank Oz really captures the energy and aesthetic of the city through the vantage of a child's fantastical gaze, its gritty without being terrifying and capable of magical dreams actually coming true.
It should also be noted that this is one of the last major film jaunts for the Muppets that was captained by Henson, and the films have not quite had the same heartbeat as The Muppets Take Manhattan displays. Bottom-line, get the DVD to recapture a bit of your youth, dreams of starting a show, and rediscover some old pals.