The Muppets Take Manhattan

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The Muppets Take Manhattan
Muppets take manhattan.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Oz
Produced by David Lazer
Screenplay by Tom Patchett
Jay Tarses
Frank Oz
Story by Tom Patchett
Jay Tarses
Music by Ralph Burns (score)
Jeff Moss (songs)
Cinematography Robert Paynter
Edited by Evan A. Lottman
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • July 13, 1984 (1984-07-13)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million[2]
Box office $25.5 million[3]

The Muppets Take Manhattan is a 1984 American musical comedy film directed by Frank Oz. It is the third of a series of live-action musical feature films starring Jim Henson's Muppets with special appearances by Art Carney, James Coco, Dabney Coleman, Gregory Hines, Linda Lavin, and Joan Rivers. The film was produced by Henson Associates and TriStar Pictures, and was filmed on location in New York City during the summer of 1983 and released theatrically the following summer. It was the first film to be directed solely by Oz (who also performs Sam the Eagle, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and Animal), as he previously co-directed The Dark Crystal with Henson.

The film introduced the Muppet Babies, as toddler versions of the Muppet characters in a fantasy sequence. The Muppet Babies later received their own Saturday morning animated television series, which aired on CBS from 1984 until 1991 and has since been syndicated worldwide.


Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the Muppets graduate from Danhurst College by entertaining 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 but soon discover he is a con artist named Murray Plotsky upon the arrival of the police. Plotsky is arrested, leaving the Muppets' hopes dashed. They try other theatrical producers but has no success, their morale and finances taking a nosedive.

Thinking they are becoming a burden to Kermit when he snaps at them, the rest of the Muppets agree to go their separate ways and get 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 help of diner owner Pete, his daughter Jenny 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 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 but when the rats are exposed, the plan fails.

While in Central Park, Jenny comforts Kermit about his losses, while an envious Miss Piggy observes. When a thief steals her purse, Miss Piggy borrows a pair of rollerskates 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 while Kermit receives several letters from his friends who have taken up numerous jobs around the United States. He then receives a letter from producer Bernard Crawford who is interested in the musical. Kermit meets Bernard's son Ronnie, who wishes to produce Manhattan Melodies to prove himself to his father. Bernard himself is sceptical but agrees to fund the show. A thrilled Kermit heads back to the diner but is so happy that he walks into oncoming traffic and is hit by a car.

The rest of the Muppets are summoned back to New York, but learn Kermit has vanished. Kermit is hospitalized but with no memory of his life. As "Phil", Kermit gets a job as an advertising salesman with other frogs. They end up visiting Pete's diner where Kermit's friends recognize him when he plays the show's opening number with spoons. At the Biltmore Theatre on opening night, the Muppets try to help Kermit remember, but it only works when Miss Piggy punches him when he insults their past romance. Kermit regains his memories, realizing the show needs more Muppets, allowing his friends' associates to join the show as supernumeracies.

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 to appear. With all of the Muppets and other characters present, Kermit and Miss Piggy get married as the film ends.


Muppet performers[edit]

Main article: List of Muppets

Cameo guest stars[edit]

Musical numbers[edit]

  1. "Together Again" - Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and The Muppets
  2. "You Can't Take No for an Answer" - Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
  3. "Saying Goodbye" - Miss Piggy, Kermit, Scooter, Gonzo, Camilla, Rowlf, Floyd Pepper, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, Fozzie Bear, and The Muppets
  4. "I'm Gonna Always Love You" - Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, and Rowlf
  5. "Right Where I Belong" - Kermit and the Muppets
  6. "Somebody's Getting Married" - Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, and the Muppets
  7. "He'll Make Me Happy" - Miss Piggy, Kermit, and the Muppets
  8. "The Ceremony" - Minister, Miss Piggy, Kermit, and the Muppets


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 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] Shortly after, Oz confirmed his involvement to the project. The first draft titled The Muppets: The Legend Continues, written by Muppet Caper scribes 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 the likes of 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 legendary 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 director Oz ended up rewriting most of the film's dialogue.[5] Although the wedding scene was only used that have Ernie, Bert and Cookie Monster have speaking roles.



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. 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.

Box office[edit]

Although the film didn't out-gross its predecessors, it did gross $25,534,703 making it the second highest-grossing G-rated film of 1984 (behind the re-issue of Disney's Pinocchio).[3]

Critical reception[edit]

The Muppets Take Manhattan opened on July 13, 1984 to mostly positive reviews.[8][9] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 81% of 21 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.9 out of 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."[10]

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.[11] In his 2009 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."[12]

Home media[edit]

Unlike the 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 Entertainment; 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 controlled by Sony Pictures, and not the Walt Disney Studios.

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 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.[13] A Blu-ray edition was released on August 16, 2011, and contains the same bonus features as the DVD.[14]


Jeff Moss was nominated for an Academy Award for the music he composed for The Muppets Take Manhattan.[15]


The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack
Muppets Take Manhattan Soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by The Muppets
Released 1984
Genre Soundtrack
Length 28:45
Label Warner Bros. Records
The Muppets chronology
The Great Muppet Caper: Original Soundtrack
The Muppets Take Manhattan: Original Soundtrack
The Muppet Christmas Carol: Original Soundtrack
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[16]

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 #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" was performed in the 2014 film Muppets Most Wanted and its soundtrack.

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Artist(s) Length
1. "Together Again"   Jeff Moss Kermit and Friends 2:54
2. "You Can't Take No for an Answer"   Jeff Moss Dr. Teeth 2:00
3. "Saying Goodbye"   Jeff Moss Everyone 3:06
4. "Rat Scat (Something Cookin')"   Jeff Moss Rizzo and the Rats 1:18
5. "Together Again (Carriage Ride)"   Jeff Moss (arr. Ralph Burns) Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Statler and Waldorf 1:07
6. "I'm Gonna Always Love You"   Jeff Moss The Muppet Babies 2:55
7. "William Tell Overture"   Gioachino Rossini (arr. Ralph Burns) The Chickens 0:59
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Artist(s) Length
1. "Looking for Kermit"   Ralph Burns Instrumental 1:42
2. "Right Where I Belong"   Jeff Moss Everyone 2:12
3. "Somebody's Getting Married/Waiting for the Wedding"   Jeff Moss Everyone 2:36
4. "He'll Make Me Happy"   Jeff Moss Miss Piggy and Kermit 2:10
5. "The Ceremony"   Jeff Moss Everyone 1:10
6. "Closing Medley (Final Credits)"   Jeff Moss (arr. Ralph Burns) Everyone 4:18


  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. Internet Movie Database. 
  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". WordPress. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ Marvel Super Special #32 at the Grand Comics Database
  7. ^ The Muppets Take Manhattan at the Grand Comics Database
  8. ^ "Variety Reviews - The Muppets Take Manhattan - Film Reviews - - Review by Variety Staff". 1983-12-31. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  9. ^ "Reviews Movies; Muppets Work Their Magic; The Muppets Take Manhattan - Directed By Frank Oz, Produced By Jim; Henson, Starring Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo And; Dr. Teeth With Cameo Appearances By Dabney; Coleman, Joan Rivers And Gregory Hines, At The Charles, Copley Place; And Suburbs, Rated G". 1984-07-13. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  10. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  11. ^ Roger Ebert (January 1, 1984). "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Chicago Sun-Times ( Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  12. ^ Leonard Maltin (August 5, 2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide (2009 ed.). Signet. p. 1664. ISBN 0-451-22468-X. 
  13. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  14. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  15. ^ Davis, Michael (2008). Street Gang. New York, New York: Penguin Press. p. 379. ISBN 978-0-14-311663-9. 
  16. ^ Allmusic review

External links[edit]