Michael Wermuth – The Muppets Take Manhattan is the third Muppet movie. The plot involves the Muppets, having just graduated from college, dropping their intended post-college plans to go to New York and sell Manhattan Melodies, a college musical Kermit had written, to Broadway, after one classmate jokingly tells the Muppets they’ll be on Broadway (an idea all of the Muppets except Kermit initially take seriously). Unfortunately, the Muppets struggle to find a legitimate producer willing to produce the show, and after a few months Kermit declares that they tried and failed. With that in mind, the other Muppets decide they should go out and make a living on their own, without having to rely on Kermit, and all leave town (though Miss Piggy stays and spies on Kermit, after the frog befriends Jenny, a waitress they met). However, Kermit does not give up and comes up with a three-part plan to get Manhattan Melodies on Broadway, but as soon as he does find a producer willing to produce the show, Kermit gets hit by a car and gets amnesia, with no identification, so the Muppets have only two weeks to get ready AND find Kermit.
I liked this movie a lot better when I was a kid than I do now (I guess it helps that back then, it was the only Muppet movie I didn’t have a copy of). It’s still good, but I feel it’s a little slow in the middle. The first 30 minutes, up until the end of “Saying Goodbye”, are really exciting, and the excitement picks up again when Kermit meets with Ronnie Crawford, but the time in-between isn’t as great, though there are some great moments, such as Scooter and Gonzo’s post card flashbacks, the two parts of Kermit’s three-part plan that we get to see (I wish I knew what the third part was), the rats cooking scene, and the Muppet Babies sequence. I have read on another blog that a lot of what happens in the middle is more-or-less inconsequential to the plot (but that shouldn’t be a bad thing, right?). I find the cameo scenes with Joan Rivers and James Coco overrated. The middle part of the film also feels the least musical, where the first 30 minutes seemed to have a song every other scene and the ending featured three back-to-back music numbers.
This movie also has the most realistic feel, thanks in part of Frank Oz’s direction, making it less wacky than The Great Muppet Caper. It is the only Muppet movie where the Muppets never refer to it being a movie. After two Muppet movies that went all-out with having the Muppets do things that might get people asking “how did they do THAT?”, this one doesn’t seem to have those kinds of moments (though I know that the Muppet Babies and rats cooking scenes were a challenge). All of the songs are great, from “Together Again” to Dr. Teeth’s “You Can’t Take No for an Answer” to the entirety of the Manhattan Melodies sequence, including an impressive wedding scene.
The Muppets Take Manhattan may be my least favorite of the Muppet movies that Jim Henson worked on, but it’s still a brilliant film that every Muppet fan should see.