The Muppets Take Manhattan
The Muppets Take Manhattan is a 1984 American musical comedy drama film directed by Frank Oz. It is the third of a series of live-action musical feature films starring Jim Henson's Muppets with special appearances by Art Carney, James Coco, Dabney Coleman, Gregory Hines, Linda Lavin, Liza Minnelli and Joan Rivers. The film was produced by Henson Associates and TriStar Pictures, and was filmed in New York City during the summer of 1983 and released theatrically the following summer. It was the first film to be directed solely by Oz (who also performs Sam the Eagle, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and Animal), who previously co-directed The Dark Crystal with Henson.
|The Muppets Take Manhattan|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Oz|
|Produced by||David Lazer|
|Music by||Ralph Burns|
|Edited by||Evan A. Lottman|
Delphi II Productions
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$25.5 million|
The film introduced the Muppet Babies, as toddler versions of the Muppet characters in a fantasy sequence. The eponymous animated television series premiered on CBS in September 1984, airing until 1991.
This is also the final Muppet film to be released before the deaths of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt.
Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and the rest of the Muppets have graduated from Danhurst College and entertain their fellow graduates with their theatrical production of Manhattan Melodies. Upon the suggestion of taking the show to Broadway, the Muppets proceed with the idea, certain they will become stars instantly. Arriving in Manhattan, the group meet producer Martin Price (Dabney Coleman) but the police arrive and reveal he is a wanted con artist named Murray Plotsky. Plotsky is arrested, leaving the Muppets' hopes dashed. They try other theatrical producers to no avail, leading to their morale and finances taking a nosedive.
Thinking they are becoming a burden to Kermit when he snaps at them, the rest of the Muppets agree to go their separate ways for new occupations, though Miss Piggy secretly remains in Manhattan to keep an eye on Kermit. Though disappointed by the development, Kermit vows to make the show a hit and enlists the assistance of diner owner Pete (Louis Zorich), his daughter Jenny (Juliana Donald) who is an aspiring fashion designer, and the diner's staff of rats led by Rizzo. Attempting to promote the show, Kermit first poses as an eccentric producer bragging about the musical's quality but the producer he meets (John Landis) discards the script after Kermit makes his exit. Kermit then poses as a famous playwright, having the rats insert a caricature picture at Sardi's restaurant by replacing Liza Minnelli's picture with it. When Liza Minnelli comes in and notices it missing, she asks Vincent Sardi Jr. if she did something wrong to get it removed. When the rats are exposed, Sardi discovers Liza's picture near Kermit. This causes Kermit and the rats to get thrown out of the restaurant. Kermit learns from letters that Scooter got a job as a house manager at a movie theater in Cleveland, Ohio where he finds The Swedish Chef as the popcorn server and Lew Zealand as a dedicated viewer of a 3-D movie; Fozzie joins some other bears in hibernating within the forests of Maine where he has a hard time hibernating; Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem have a gig in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania performing in a retirement home; The Great Gonzo and Camilla the Chicken are trying to make a successful water act in Michigan; and Rowlf the Dog is working at a dog kennel in Delaware.
While in Central Park, Jenny comforts Kermit about his losses, while an envious Miss Piggy watches. When a thief steals her purse, Miss Piggy borrows a pair of roller skates and furiously gives chase until she captures him, but reunites with Kermit in the process and they make up. Piggy takes a job at Pete's diner. He then receives a letter from producer Bernard Crawford (Art Carney) who is interested in the musical. However, the letter was actually written by his son, Ronnie Crawford (Lonny Price), who is struggling to prove himself as a producer and believes that "Manhattan Melodies" is good. Bernard himself is hesitant but agrees to fund the show. A thrilled Kermit heads back to the diner but is so happy that he walks into oncoming traffic and is struck by a passing car.
The rest of the Muppets are summoned back to New York, only to discover that Kermit has disappeared. At the hospital, Kermit's doctor discovers that he has lost memory of his life. He makes his way to Madison Avenue, where he meets a trio of frogs, Bill, Gill, and Jill, who work in advertising and offer him a job when he comes up with a slogan. He takes the job and begins going by "Phil." The rest of the Muppets search for Kermit, with Gonzo at one point trying to persuade Mayor Edward I. Koch to assist.
Bill, Gill, Jill, and Kermit/"Phil" end up visiting Pete's diner where Kermit's friends recognize him when he plays the show's opening number with spoons. At the Biltmore Theatre on opening night, the Muppets try to help Kermit remember. When Kermit laughs at the idea of being in love with Miss Piggy, she karate chops him, restoring his memory. Kermit, realizing the show needs more Muppets, requests that the Madison Avenue frogs, the dogs, the bears, the chickens, and others become supernumeraries.
The show is a success, culminating in what is intended to be a staged wedding between Kermit and Miss Piggy's characters, only for a real minister to appear. With all of the Muppets, the Sesame Street Muppets, and Uncle Traveling Matt from Fraggle Rock present, Kermit and Miss Piggy get married as the film ends.
- Louis Zorich as Pete, the owner and chef of Pete's Diner.
- Juliana Donald as Jenny, Pete's daughter who works as a waitress and aspiring fashion designer.
- Lonny Price as Ronnie Crawford, Bernard's son and an aspiring Broadway producer.
- Cheryl McFadden as Nancy, the secretary to Martin Price/Murray Plotsky.
- Graham Brown as Mr. Wrightson
- Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth, The Swedish Chef, Waldorf, The Muppet Newsman, Baby Kermit, Baby Rowlf and Ernie
- Frank Oz as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam Eagle, Baby Piggy, Baby Fozzie, Bert and Cookie Monster
- Jerry Nelson as Floyd Pepper, Camilla the Chicken, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Pops, and a Bear
- Richard Hunt as Scooter, Janice, Statler, Baby Scooter, Beaker
- Dave Goelz as The Great Gonzo, Chester the Rat, Bill the Frog, Zoot; a Penguin, Jim the Dog, Baby Gonzo, Beauregard (scenes deleted) and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
- Steve Whitmire as Rizzo the Rat, Gill the Frog, Bear
- Bruce Edward Hall as Masterson the Rat and Beth Bear
- Kathryn Mullen as Jill the Frog
- Karen Prell as Yolanda the Rat, Frank the Dog
- Brian Muehl as Tattooey the Rat
Cameo guest starsEdit
- Frances Bergen as Mr. Winesop's receptionist
- Art Carney as Bernard Crawford, a known theatrical producer and Ronnie's father.
- James Coco as Mr. Skeffington
- Dabney Coleman as Murray Plotsky/Martin Price, a con artist posing as a theatrical producer.
- Elliott Gould as a police officer at Pete's Diner. Gould also appeared as a cameo in The Muppet Movie.
- Gregory Hines as a roller skater
- Mayor Edward I. Koch as himself
- John Landis as Leonard Winesop, a known theatrical producer.
- Linda Lavin as Kermit's doctor
- David Lazer as Sardi's customer
- Liza Minnelli as herself
- Joan Rivers as Eileen
- Brooke Shields as Pete's Diner patron
- Vincent Sardi, Jr. as himself
- "Together Again" - Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and The Muppets
- "You Can't Take No for an Answer" - Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem
- "Saying Goodbye" - Miss Piggy, Kermit, Scooter, Gonzo, Camilla, Rowlf, Floyd Pepper, Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, Fozzie Bear, and The Muppets
- "I'm Gonna Always Love You" - Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, and Rowlf
- "Right Where I Belong" - Kermit and the Muppets
- "Somebody's Getting Married" - Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, and the Muppets
- "He'll Make Me Happy" - Miss Piggy, Kermit, and the Muppets
- "The Ceremony" - Minister, Miss Piggy, Kermit, and the Muppets
Under the working title of Muppet Movie III, Jim Henson initially planned to film the project in late spring 1983. Having directed The Great Muppet Caper and The Dark Crystal back-to-back, Henson decided to serve as the producer along with David Lazer. Upon selecting fellow Muppet performer and The Dark Crystal co-director Frank Oz to handle directorial duties, Henson stated, "I was looking at the year ahead and I thought my life was very busy and I thought maybe it was a time to have Frank directing one of these." Shortly after, Oz confirmed his involvement to the project. The first draft titled The Muppets: The Legend Continues, written by Muppet Caper scribes Jay Tarses and Tom Patchett, was dismissed by Oz for being "way too over jokey". After being given Henson's encouragement to tinker with the script, Oz revised the screenplay in an effort to develop the "oomph of the characters and their relationships". Once the script was completed and the sets were built, special consultant David Misch was brought in to write cameos for some guest star appearances. Originally, this list of guest stars contained the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin, Michael Jackson, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, and Laurence Olivier to name a few. According to Misch, Hoffman was going to play a Broadway producer and planned to do an imitation of legendary film producer Robert Evans (The Godfather), which he later did in the film Wag the Dog. However, at the last minute, Hoffman decided that the role could be offensive to Evans and dropped out, following which all the other big names dropped out as well. Because of the dropped cameos, Misch and director Oz ended up rewriting most of the film's dialogue.
The Muppets Take Manhattan was adapted by Marvel Comics in 1984, as the 68-page story in Marvel Super Special #32. The adaptation was later re-printed into a three-issue limited series, released under Marvel's Star Comics imprint (November 1984 – January 1985). The film's script was adapted into comic form by writer Stan Kay with art by Dean Yeagle and Jacqueline Roettcher. Unlike in the film, the comic depicts Gonzo, Floyd Pepper, Animal, Janice, Dr. Teeth, and Zoot in their customary outfits from The Muppet Show.
The Muppets Take Manhattan opened on July 13, 1984 to mostly positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 83% of 23 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.9 out of 10. The site's consensus stated that "if it's not quite as sharp as The Muppet Movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan is still a smart, delightfully old-fashioned tale that follows the formula established by the first two movies -- a madcap adventure assisted by a huge group of human stars."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a three star rating (out of four) stating in his review that "the plot of [the] movie has been seen before." However, Ebert went on to say that just about everything in the film was enjoyable and that Kermit finally solves his long-lasting identity crisis. In his 2009 Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin gave the film a three star rating (out of four) as well citing that the film is an "enjoyable outing with bouncy songs, [with a] nice use of N.Y.C. locations."
Unlike the Henson's previous films (The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Dark Crystal), The Muppets Take Manhattan was originally released by TriStar Pictures and not produced by ITC Entertainment; mainly because ITC was suffering from extreme financial difficulties at the time. Therefore, unlike the previous films, the distribution rights to The Muppets Take Manhattan did revert to The Jim Henson Company in 1998, but did not revert to The Walt Disney Company in 2004. Due to this, it is one of three Muppet films (along with Muppets from Space and the direct-to-video feature Kermit's Swamp Years) whose home video distribution rights are still controlled by Sony Pictures, and not the Walt Disney Studios (The film rights are co-owned by TriStar Pictures and The Jim Henson Company).
The Muppets Take Manhattan was first released on VHS and the now defunct CED Videodisc format by CBS/Fox Video in 1985, which then reissued it in 1991, followed by a release from Columbia TriStar Home Video and Jim Henson Home Entertainment on June 1, 1999. The 1999 VHS contained a slightly edited cut from previous versions, possibly derived from the TV broadcast version. Cuts include removal of the audio from the TriStar logo, the scenes of Animal shouting "Bad man!" to Mr. Price, removal of the words "Oh my God" in one scene, and scenes with Miss Piggy hitting the purse snatcher.
A DVD version was released on June 5, 2001 with the cuts from the 1999 VHS version restored. A Blu-ray edition was released on August 16, 2011, and contains the same bonus features as the DVD.
|The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by|
|The Muppets chronology|
The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack contains all of the songs written by Jeff Moss and prominent score cues composed by Ralph Burns from the film, as well as several portions of dialogue and background score. The album reached #204 on Billboard's Bubbling Under the Top LP's chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording for Children, but lost to Shel Silverstein's audio edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends.
This is the only Muppet film soundtrack that has not been released on CD. However, three tracks from the album can be found on the 2002 compilation album The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem, and More. A new version of "Together Again (Again)" was performed in the 2014 film Muppets Most Wanted and its soundtrack.
|1.||"Together Again"||Jeff Moss||Kermit and Friends||2:54|
|2.||"You Can't Take No for an Answer"||Jeff Moss||Dr. Teeth||2:00|
|3.||"Saying Goodbye"||Jeff Moss||Everyone||3:06|
|4.||"Rat Scat (Something Cookin')"||Jeff Moss||Rizzo and the Rats||1:18|
|5.||"Together Again (Carriage Ride)"||Jeff Moss (arr. Ralph Burns)||Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Statler and Waldorf||1:07|
|6.||"I'm Gonna Always Love You"||Jeff Moss||The Muppet Babies||2:55|
|7.||"William Tell Overture"||Gioachino Rossini (arr. Ralph Burns)||The Chickens||0:59|
|1.||"Looking for Kermit"||Ralph Burns||Instrumental||1:42|
|2.||"Right Where I Belong"||Jeff Moss||Everyone||2:12|
|3.||"Somebody's Getting Married/Waiting for the Wedding"||Jeff Moss||Everyone||2:36|
|4.||"He'll Make Me Happy"||Jeff Moss||Miss Piggy and Kermit||2:10|
|5.||"The Ceremony"||Jeff Moss||Everyone||1:10|
|6.||"Closing Medley (Final Credits)"||Jeff Moss (arr. Ralph Burns)||Everyone||4:18|
Cancelled follow-up seriesEdit
In February 2019, it was announced that Once Upon a Time showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were working with actor Josh Gad on a TV series titled Muppets Live Another Day, set after the film's events, for Disney+. The series was to focus on the Muppets, who disbanded some time after the film's events, reuniting after Rowlf disappears. However, in September 2019, it was announced that the series had been scrapped due to creative differences following an executive change at The Muppets Studio.
- "MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN (U)". British Board of Film Classification. June 27, 1984. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
- Jones, Brian Jay (2013). "Twists and Turns". Jim Henson: The Biography. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-345-52611-3.
- "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database.
- Jones, Brian Jay (2013). "Twists and Turns". Jim Henson: The Biography. New York: Ballantine Books. pp. 234, 237. ISBN 978-0-345-52611-3.
- Ryan Roe (March 18, 2011). "A Q&A with Muppet Writer David Misch". WordPress. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
- "Marvel Super Special #32". Grand Comics Database.
- The Muppets Take Manhattan at the Grand Comics Database
- Friedt, Stephan (July 2016). "Marvel at the Movies: The House of Ideas' Hollywood Adaptations of the 1970s and 1980s". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (89): 69.
- "Variety Reviews - The Muppets Take Manhattan - Film Reviews - - Review by Variety Staff". Variety.com. December 31, 1983. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- "Reviews Movies; Muppets Work Their Magic; The Muppets Take Manhattan - Directed By Frank Oz, Produced By Jim; Henson, Starring Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo And; Dr. Teeth With Cameo Appearances By Dabney; Coleman, Joan Rivers And Gregory Hines, At The Charles, Copley Place; And Suburbs, Rated G". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. July 13, 1984. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Roger Ebert (January 1, 1984). "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Chicago Sun-Times. rogerebert.com. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Leonard Maltin (August 5, 2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide (2009 ed.). Signet. p. 945. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2.
- "The Muppets Take Manhattan". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- "The Muppets Take Manhattan (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- Davis, Michael (2008). Street Gang. New York, New York: Penguin Press. p. 379. ISBN 978-0-14-311663-9.
- Allmusic review
- Anderson, Ethan (February 7, 2019). "The Muppets Revival is Coming to Disney+ from Josh Gad and 'Once Upon a Time' Creators". /Film. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- Goldberg, Lesley (September 9, 2019). "'The Muppets' Disney+ Comedy Series Scrapped". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
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