The Muppets Take Manhattan

The Muppets Take Manhattan is a 1984 American musical fantasy comedy film directed by Frank Oz. It is the third theatrical film in The Muppets franchise. It features special appearances by Art Carney, James Coco, Dabney Coleman, Gregory Hines, Linda Lavin, and Joan Rivers. Filmed in New York City during the prior summer, it was released theatrically on July 13, 1984, by TriStar Pictures. A fantasy sequence in the film introduced the Muppet Babies, toddler versions of the lead Muppet characters.

The Muppets Take Manhattan
Muppets take manhattan.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Oz
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Tom Patchett
  • Jay Tarses
Based onThe Muppets
by Jim Henson
Produced byDavid Lazer
CinematographyRobert Paynter
Edited byEvan Lottman
Music byRalph Burns
Distributed byTri-Star Pictures
Release date
  • July 13, 1984 (1984-07-13)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$8 million[2]
Box office$25.5 million[3]

Muppets Take Manhattan was the first film to be directed solely by Oz, who previously co-directed The Dark Crystal with Jim Henson. Not counting the Sesame Street film Follow that Bird, it is the final Muppet film produced before the deaths of Henson and Richard Hunt.


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 the Frog 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 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 Bear joins some other bears in hibernating within the forests of Maine where he has a hard time sleeping; 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 skiing 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.

Kermit 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 distracted 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 end up visiting Pete's diner where Kermit's friends recognize him when he plays the show's opening number with spoons and glasses of water. 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. As the Muppets are about to get in place for the show’s opening number, the Muppets ask Kermit if their new friends can watch from backstage. Kermit, realizing the show needs more Muppets, suggests that the Madison Avenue frogs, the dogs, the bears, the chickens, and others become supernumerary actors.

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 (instead of Gonzo as originally intended) 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.


Muppets performersEdit

Cameo guest starsEdit


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."[4]

The first draft titled The Muppets: The Legend Continues, written by Muppet Caper screenwriters Jay Tarses and Tom Patchett, was dismissed by Oz for being "way too over jokey".[4] 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".[4] 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 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 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 Oz ended up rewriting most of the film's dialogue.[5]



The Muppets Take Manhattan was adapted by Marvel Comics in 1984, as the 68-page story in Marvel Super Special #32.[6] The adaptation was later re-printed into a three-issue limited series, released under Marvel's Star Comics imprint (November 1984 – January 1985).[7] The film's script was adapted into comic form by writer Stan Kay with art by Dean Yeagle and Jacqueline Roettcher.[8] Unlike in the film, the comic depicts Gonzo, Floyd Pepper, Animal, Janice, Dr. Teeth, and Zoot in their customary outfits from The Muppet Show.

In addition, a book-and-record set of the film was released in the form of a vinyl record through the Muppet Music Records label.

Home mediaEdit

Unlike 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 Films, 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. Therefore, it is not available for streaming on the Disney+ service.

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.[9] A Blu-ray edition was released on August 16, 2011, and contains the same bonus features as the DVD.[10]


Box officeEdit

On its opening weekend, The Muppets Take Manhattan grossed $4.4 million, ranking at fifth place at the box office.[11] The film ultimately earned $25.5 million in the United States and Canada,[3] placing it as the second highest-grossing G-rated film of 1984 (behind the re-issue of Walt Disney Productions' Pinocchio).[12]

Critical reactionEdit

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.[13] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 3+12 stars (out of four) writing it was "a most enjoyable backstage musical, culminating, as you probably have heard, with a wedding ceremony between you-know-who and you-know-who."[14] Variety positively stated: "The Muppets Take Manhattan is a genuinely fun confection of old-fashioned entertainment that will appeal to both children and their parents, weaned on Henson's syndicated tv series."[15] Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times, who expressed disappointment in The Great Muppet Caper, felt the Muppets "have found their footing adroitly now; the emphasis is back on real values and identifiable emotions."[16] In his annual 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."[17]

Gary Arnold of The Washington Post described the film as being "progressively lackluster", finding the Muppets' disbandment to be a "misbegotten juncture that the script proceeds to unravel, losing a unified storytelling thread while keeping tabs on the scattered troupe until the inevitable reunion." He further felt the film lacked "rousing musical numbers", in which he blamed Henson and Oz for pinning "everything on a poorly calculated and staged marital spectacular, as Miss Piggy finally cons Kermit to the altar -- a terminally sappy bad idea to begin with."[18] Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote: "This may be only an impression, based on the fact that the past always looks greener than the present, but The Muppets Take Manhattan seems just a little less extraordinaire than the two other features."[19]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 83% of 24 critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 6.9/10. 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."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 64 out of 100 based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]


Jeff Moss was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the music he composed for The Muppets Take Manhattan, but lost to Purple Rain by Prince.[22]


The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
LabelWarner Bros.
The Muppets chronology
The Great Muppet Caper: Original Soundtrack
The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack
The Muppet Christmas Carol: Original Soundtrack
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic     [23]

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 No. 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.

Side A
1."Together Again"Jeff MossKermit and Friends2:54
2."You Can't Take No for an Answer"Jeff MossDr. Teeth2:00
3."Saying Goodbye"Jeff MossKermit and Friends3:06
4."Rat Scat (Something Cookin')"Jeff MossRizzo the Rat1:18
5."Together Again (Carriage Ride)"Jeff Moss (arr. Ralph Burns)Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Statler and Waldorf1:07
6."I'm Gonna Always Love You"Jeff MossThe Muppet Babies2:55
7."William Tell Overture"Gioachino Rossini (arr. Ralph Burns)The Chickens0:59
Side B
1."Looking for Kermit"Ralph BurnsInstrumental1:42
2."Right Where I Belong"Jeff MossKermit and the Muppets2:12
3."Somebody's Getting Married/Waiting for the Wedding"Jeff MossThe Muppets2:36
4."He'll Make Me Happy"Jeff MossMiss Piggy, Kermit and the Muppets2:10
5."The Ceremony"Jeff MossMiss Piggy, Kermit and the Muppets1:10
6."Closing Medley (Final Credits)"Jeff Moss (arr. Ralph Burns)The Muppets4:18

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+.[24] The series was to focus on the Muppets, who disbanded some time after the film's events, reuniting after Rowlf disappears.[24] 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.[25]


  1. ^ "MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN (U)". British Board of Film Classification. June 27, 1984. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  2. ^ Jones, Brian Jay (2013). "Twists and Turns". Jim Henson: The Biography. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-345-52611-3.
  3. ^ a b "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Box Office Mojo.
  4. ^ a b c Jones, Brian Jay (2013). "Twists and Turns". Jim Henson: The Biography. New York: Ballantine Books. pp. 234, 237. ISBN 978-0-345-52611-3.
  5. ^ Ryan Roe (March 18, 2011). "A Q&A with Muppet Writer David Misch". ToughPigs. Retrieved January 28, 2012 – via WordPress.
  6. ^ "Marvel Super Special #32". Grand Comics Database.
  7. ^ The Muppets Take Manhattan at the Grand Comics Database
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  10. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  11. ^ Sanello, Frank (July 17, 1984). "'Ghostbusters,' 'Gremlins' still top box office after six weeks". United Press International. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  12. ^ "1984 Yearly Box Office By MPAA Rating – All G Rated Releases". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 13, 1984). "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 29, 2012 – via
  14. ^ Siskel, Gene (July 13, 1984). "'Muppets Take Manhattan' ... fans, too". Chicago Tribune. Section 5, p. 1. Retrieved July 27, 2021 – via  
  15. ^ "Film Reviews: The Muppets Take Manhattan". Variety. July 11, 1984. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  16. ^ Benson, Sheila (July 13, 1984). "Kermit Croaks Summer's Sweetest News". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 6. Retrieved July 27, 2021 – via  
  17. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide (2009 ed.). Signet. p. 945. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ Arnold, Gary (July 14, 1984). "The Muppet Mope". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  19. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 13, 1984). "Film: Broadway Setting for 3d Muppet Romp". The New York Times. p. C10. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  20. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  21. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Metacritic. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  22. ^ Davis, Michael (2008). Street Gang. New York, New York: Penguin Press. p. 379. ISBN 978-0-14-311663-9.
  23. ^ Allmusic review
  24. ^ a b 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.
  25. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (September 9, 2019). "'The Muppets' Disney+ Comedy Series Scrapped". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2019.

External linksEdit