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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Muppets are together again in The Muppets Take Manhattan.

Not so much a review as some quick thoughts on one of my favorite Muppets films.

The Muppet Movie is like Kermit himself. If people ranked their favorite Muppets, the little frog would top most lists, and if they ranked the movies, the gang's first big-screen adventure would probably earn the lion's share of the love. I just wish folks paid more attention to The Muppets Take Manhattan.

This film has so many great singular moments (the Joan Rivers cameo, a great riff on 3-D movies), but it also comes together in a very cohesive way. It features some of the series' best songs, as well as the most impressive production number (Kermit and Piggy's wedding). Maybe what I love most, though, is that each Muppet featured in this film gets plenty of time to shine. The biggest strength of the series is the diverse cast of characters. Unsung players like Rowlf, Scooter, and Electric Mayhem get entire sequences dedicated to them. And each character makes the most of his or her opportunity.

The film follows Kermit and the gang's attempts to get their original musical, Manhattan Melodies, produced on Broadway. But while they are the kings and queens of their college campus, big-time New York producers won't give them the time of day. So they all part ways, with Kermit electing to stay in the Big Apple and continue pursuing his dream. Eventually, his determination pays off, but can the group reassemble in time?

The Muppets Take Manhattan is definitely one of the more emotionally satisfying Muppets movies. "Saying Goodbye" is a tearjerker of the first order, and the aforementioned wedding sequence guarantees a smile on your face. Kermit has a tremendous arc, showing more vulnerability than you might expect as the pressure of the situation starts to become too much. Perhaps my one complaint with the film: The amnesia subplot. But ultimately, that's small potatoes.

We'll find out soon what Jason Segel and company have in store, but barring some unparalleled feat of cinematic excellence, it will be hard to top The Muppets Take Manhattan. It's a joyful film, capturing the enthusiasm and fear of being young and on your own. Plus, it's really funny. Can't beat that!


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