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  Muppets Take Manhattan, The If They Can Make It There...
Year: 1984
Director: Frank Oz
Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Juliana Donald, Lonny Price, Louis Zorich, Art Carney, James Coco, Dabney Coleman, Gregory Hines, Linda Lavin, Joan Rivers, Elliott Gould, Liza Minnelli, Brooke Shields
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: The Muppets' show has been a great success with the audience today - the audience of their fellow college students, that is. They are graduating, and as they take their bows, someone calls out from the crowd to tell them they should take their show to Broadway, and that sparks off an idea in the Muppets' leader, Kermit the Frog (performed by Jim Henson). After all, if they don't have a try at going to New York and making it there, they'll never see each other again, so off they go... but it's not going to be as easy to establish themselves as they had hoped.

For the third Muppet film, and the last to feature all the original gang, the team decided to take on the more traditional musical plot, where the cast must put on a make or break show, and it takes the whole of the movie for them to reach that stage. If anything, this was the most sentimental Muppet effort so far, because after a false hope that they have found a producer (he turns out to be a conman), there are a series of tearjerking, laughing through the misery sequences where our protagonists have to face up the to the fact that their dreams are not working out.

Kermit's friends are right behind him and want more than anything in the world for the show to make it to Broadway, but they have to face up to the fact that they can't get anyone interested. Therefore they split up and go their separate ways, not wishing to let Kermit down but seeing no other option, and this means the action is pretty much centred around the little frog and his Herculean endeavours to not only find backing, but reunite his pals, which we understand will be entirely for their own good: those postcards they send him may say they're getting on well, but the clips we see tell a different story.

Yet Kermit is not entrirely separated from his buddies, as the love of his life Miss Piggy (director Frank Oz) secretly stays behind and spies on him, insanely jealous that he has found a new female friend in the shape of diner waitress Jenny (Juliana Donald) who is the daughter of Kermit's new boss there. He has to make ends meet, after all, and also there is Rizzo the Rat (Steve Whitmire) and his acquaintances, helping out. Piggy (with an ill-advised perm) can't keep her secret for long, and blows her cover when someone steals her purse while she's following the frog and Jenny in the park.

With all this schmaltz, The Muppets Take Manhattan is not the most joyous of the puppets' appearances, and there's even a late twist that threatens to jeopardise the possibility of Kermit ever realising his ambitions. There are funny gags, but the storyline is thin, and there will be many who feel their favourite supporting character simply doesn't get enough to do: Beaker doesn't even get a line to speak, for example. For all the ways that the script aims for the emotions, the film is at its best bringing out the humour in the situations, and the Muppets' camaraderie remains the most uplifting part of these productions. Not the best of their extravaganzas, then, but there's still plenty to appreciate, not least the superb puppetry. Music by Ralph Burns.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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