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The Muppets Take Manhattan(1984)
Fresh out of drama school, Kermit Fozzie Bear and the entier cast of Kermit's musical "Manhattan Melodies" head for the Big Apple with plans to turn their small play into a big hit! But when no one in town will even meet with them, it's up to Kermit to believe hard enough for all of his friends that the show will go on!
For more about The Muppets Take Manhattan and the The Muppets Take Manhattan Blu-ray release, see the The Muppets Take Manhattan Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 15, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Lonny Price
Director: Frank Oz
» See full cast & crew
The Muppets Take Manhattan Blu-ray Review
Muppets Take Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 15, 2011
There was a time when a movie like The Muppets Take Manhattan was a magical experience to six-year-old eyes. The plot and setting didn't really matter, the comical nuances didn't get in the way but didn't make the film any better, and the human puppeteering skill required to bring the characters to life didn't even factor into the overall appreciation level the film engendered. No, it was all about dazzling entertainment, something so magical and real, characters to love, colors that sparkled, and music worthy of dance. It was the picture's sweetness, sense of genuine desire to entertain, to build something unique and exciting and honest. The Muppets Take Manhattan was a child's dream come true, a picture populated with adorable and long-established characters, catchy show tunes, and all manner of interesting big city people. It was a perfect little movie, so genuine in intent and execution, and it remains so today. It might not be a timeless picture, but it holds up incredibly well and not only thanks to an admittedly strong sense of nostalgia. No, the characters are still fun, the music still toe-tapping good, and all of the behind-the-scenes subtleties and the film's purity remain and are more easily appreciated through veteran movie watching eyes.
The entire Muppets gang is graduating from college, and they take down the house when they perform a song-and-dance routine they've dubbed "Manhattan Melodies" for a senior variety show. They're so good, in fact, that the crowd suggests they take their show to Broadway. It's a big step, and Kermit doesn't think that the production is polished to the point that it's ready for the big time. The others disagree; besides, the added cash will finally allow Kermit to marry Miss Piggy. It's off the Big Apple they go in search of fame and fortune, but all they find are con artists, a high cost of living, and little chance that their show will ever be performed in front of a New York audience. Their luck seems to change when they stumble into a diner run by the kindly Pete (Louis Zorich) and his daughter Jenny (Juliana Donald). Unfortunately, a free lunch and an encouraging word isn't enough to keep the gang together; the Muppets all go their separate ways looking for work, but a determined Kermit stays behind in search of his dream. With new gal pal Jenny at his side, Kermit does all he can to spread the world about "Manhattan Melodies" and make it to the top. However, a jealous Miss Piggy has stayed behind to spy on her man, and she's not liking what she sees as a developing relationship between the frog and the twenty-something Jenny. Can Kermit beat the odds, convince Miss Piggy that there's no harm in his relationship with Jenny, catch a wave of good luck, and bring the entire gang back for an unforgettable performance that could only happen in New York?
The Muppets Take Manhattan thrives on its simplicity. For instance, there's no overt attempt to cram individual secondary and tertiary character development into the film. Nevertheless, viewers come to know both the background Muppets and humans alike because the script gives them all something to do, an important role to fill, even if it is simply voicing an opinion, observation, or concern as they relate to the primary plot, or having them simply chime in for a good laugh. On that note, the voice acting is exemplary; the Jim Henson-Frank Oz primary duo truly brings life to the puppets that simply reading over a script in a soundstage couldn't provide. Their firsthand understanding of the character performances -- particularly the subtle movements that give the characters a real, tangible sense of happiness, regret, and all the emotions in between -- certainly helps in making the puppets come to life so that the interaction between them and their human counterparts is as flawless as can be. Likewise, that the human actors have the opportunity to work with something -- and someone just out of sight of the screen -- allows them to more fully appreciate the character subtleties and nuances as they can read the body language the puppeteers provide and better understand at the moment how to play the scene rather than take their best guess and hope for the best as their performances are edited together with a soulless digital character after the fact.
Better still, The Muppets Take Manhattan is incredibly sweet and easygoing. The film never labors, never slows down, never takes a wrong step down an aimless path. It's smartly written in terms of plot structure and dialogue both, meaning that every scene is precision-crafted in terms of furthering the story. The characters are the same as always, with the same mannerisms, wants, needs, feelings, attitudes, and relationships. It's all done with an eye for both entertaining its audience while also instilling several good core values like the importance of friendship, honesty, trust, sticking together, charity in a time of need, and understanding that it's personal and interpersonal goodness, not just raw success, that truly makes people -- and Muppets -- happy. The characters only find success on Broadway when they find success in their lives. It's not just blind ambition but something more that will shape their Manhattan experience and ultimately bear the fruit they seek. These sorts of messages are subtly inserted into the film; The Muppets Take Manhattan knows its audience and doesn't beat it over the head as do some of today's more pointed children's fare. Instead, the lessons are in the actions, reactions, successes, and failures the characters experience. It's in the way they are treated by the good people and the bad, the way they fall apart and come back together as a group. This is just good old fashioned wholesome entertainment fit for the whole family; it's colorful enough to pass as simple entertainment, but there's more to it for those who wish to take the time and see it from a slightly different perspective.
The Muppets Take Manhattan Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Muppets Take Manhattan features a robust 1080p transfer. The image retains the film's natural grain structure and supports the transfer's superb clarity and attention to detail. Rarely is there a soft shot to be seen, and even distant objects -- whether cityscape elements or faces in a crowd -- remain sharp and strongly detailed in the back of the frame. Up-close objects yield exceptional texturing, too; viewers will be pleased to see every little nuance in the puppets, every line in human faces, and all of the worn-down textures seen in the city, inside the diner, and even within the confines of the small personal lockers in which the Muppets live while in New York. Colors sparkle, too; the palette is perfectly balanced and handles hot pinks, brilliant blues, and Kermit's green skin without missing a beat. Concrete grays, less potent hues, and black levels are excellent, too. Clarity is wonderful, and the 1080p transfer even reveals the strings controlling the puppets in a handful of shots. Print damage is virtually nonexistent, and while there's some intermixing noise present, there's no evidence of debilitating banding, blockiness, edge enhancement, or other maladies. This is one heck of a strong catalogue transfer from Sony.
The Muppets Take Manhattan Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Muppets Take Manhattan arrives on Blu-ray with a quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This one's pretty much all about the music. Whether numbers that are almost whisper-quiet or the most rowdy, loud, and energized show tunes, Sony's track delivers precision levels of sonic goodness. Spacing is natural, highs are crisp, the midrange sound, and the low end is hefty but not obnoxiously so. There's a certain realism inherent to the tunes, the sign of good production values and a quality lossless presentation. Additionally, the surrounds carry just the right amount of musical support while also engaging the listener with some subtle but critical city ambience. Rarely does the listener feel wholly immersed into the streets of New York or even the little diner that features prominently in the film, but the effects are never completely lost or absent entirely. Dialogue is center-balanced and always dominant. It's never jumbled with other effects or unnecessarily placed away from the middle of the soundstage. The track excels where it counts, and never before have the songs and sounds of The Muppets Take Manhattan sounded so good.
The Muppets Take Manhattan Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Muppets Take Manhattan's primary extra is a sit-down piece where Jim Henson speaks on a variety of topics.
The Muppets Take Manhattan Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
They don't make 'em like this anymore, but maybe they don't need to. The Muppets Take Manhattan remains a dazzling, heartwarming, and genuinely pure and good-intentioned children's movie that's still as colorful, catchy, and fun as it was back in the eighties. The film has aged well, and in today's world of cold and detached special effects, watching this movie makes it all the more clear how real, tangible, and simple movie magic can be just as exhilarating as -- if not more so than -- all of the whiz-bang CGI elements that just can't replicate the human touch. The Muppets Take Manhattan is a fairly simple movie, but it feels big and plays straight into the heart. It might not be a classic, but it's definitely a movie not to be forgotten to time. Sony's Blu-ray release of The Muppets Take Manhattan is unfortunately absent the thorough supplemental content the film deserves, but the technical presentation is pretty much beyond reproach. Sony usually does right by catalogue titles, and they definitely need to release more of them if The Muppets Take Manhattan is evidence of how the studio treats even its "midlevel" decades-old offerings. Highly recommended.
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