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Film: The Muppets Take Manhattan

The last of the original trilogy of Muppet feature films made by Jim Henson, released in 1984 and directed by Frank Oz.

Another take on the origins of the Muppets, this has them having all known each other during college and making a musical together (Manhattan Melodies); upon graduation, they decide to go to New York City and try to put the show on Broadway rather then just split apart. But after countless failures in trying to sell the show, they do split up, going to different parts of the country to make ends meet. Kermit gets a job at a diner and continues pursuing the dream of getting the show produced. Just as he succeeds and calls all the others back, he is hit by a car; now amnesiac, he winds up getting a job in the advertising industry. With the show two weeks away, the Muppets have to try and find him or, failing that, press on without him.

One of the musical numbers, featuring baby versions of some of the characters, turned out to be the debut of the Muppet Babies; their subsequent Saturday Morning Cartoon kicked off the Spinoff Babies craze.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Marriage: At least if you consider the original script, or the comic book adaptation. The movie itself never actually confirms this.
  • All Part of the Show: It is made intentionally vague whether or not Kermit and Piggy's wedding was this or something that happened for real and took place after the show they were putting on.
    • "Interviews" of Kermit and Piggy after the movie was released had Kermit stating it was all part of the show, while Piggy insisted it was real.
      • Joan Lunden of Good Morning America even gave them a toaster.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: Kermit remembers the melody he wrote, even though he's amnesiac.
  • Angrish: After Piggy spies on Kermit and Jenny hugging (again) while they are at Pete's, she's heard trashing whatever room she's in while screaming what can only be described as this.
  • Author Avatar: As with The Muppet Movie, this can be read as an allegory of Jim Henson's career. Like his creator, Kermit gains local popularity performing during his college years, decides to try his luck in New York, struggles, takes an unlikely detour into the world of advertising, then gets his big break.
  • Big Applesauce
  • Bindle Stick: Fozzie during his part in the "Saying Goodbye" number.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Surprisingly, subverted. This is the only major Muppet movie where nobody breaks the fourth wall, even once.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In a "Blink And You'll Miss It" moment, Ronny Crawford can be seen during the Travelling Salesman Montage. One of the cops who comes to arrest the con artists also reappears, when Piggy borrows his skates.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Piggy; somewhat understandable since she and Kermit are supposed to be getting married soon.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Jim Henson is the hansome cab driver who takes Kermit and Piggy on a ride through Central Park.
    • Producer David Lazer is seen escorting Liza Minelli to her table at Sardi's.
  • Darker and Edgier: It's still basically a comedy, but compared to the two previous Muppet movies, The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, this is a darker, more solemn movie with much less over-the-top silliness. This was, apparently, because The Great Muppet Caper, by far the craziest and least serious Muppet movie, hadn't done particularly well in the box office, so they toned the wackiness down for this one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rizzo the Rat, here in his first major film role and seriously starting his career as the resident cynical wiseguy.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Kermit has finally managed to successfully sell Manhattan Melodies and is ready to tell his friends, only to be hit by a car and left with amnesia.
  • Digital Destruction: Of all the original Muppet movies, this one probably is the worst victim of it. The current version of the movie has far too much contrast, making the movie look incredibly dark (it's also odd in a scene where Kermit is at the top of the Empire State Building at night, and his tongue appears to be glowing), there are a number of cropping inconsistencies from widescreen to 4:3 from previous versions, slight music alterations, among others.
    • The scene where Martin Price is exposed as Murray Plotski, there are two current edits, both of which remove almost all of Animals, "BAD MAN!" chants. Current TV broadcasts of the movie omit all of Animal's, "BAD MAN! BAD MAN!" chants, while the current DVD release leaves at least Animal's first two, "Bad man!" as Martin/Murray tries to slip away from the cops.
  • Dissimile: "Ocean Breeze Soap: It's just like taking an ocean cruise, only there's no boat and you don't actually go anywhere"
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In the scene where Kermit tells the assorted characters that they can all be in the show, check out the bear standing in the back of the group. That's Bobo Bear, although he wouldn't actually be Bobo for 12 more years.
  • Easy Amnesia: Happens to Kermit, he remembers nothing. His reaction to news of his relationship with Miss Piggy is priceless. Ironically this is what got his memory back.
    Kermit: Me? In love with a pig? Wait 'til I tell the guys in marketing! Ha ha! Maybe you expected me to go HOG-wild? Perhaps you could bring home the BACON! Ahhh... the sounds of love, SU-EEEEE! Oink, oink!
    Miss Piggy: Cancel the show! Hi-yah!
  • '80s Hair: Miss Piggy's perm, as seen in the page image.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Phillip's" big success in advertising is creating mottos like this: "Ocean Breeze Soap will get you clean."
  • Gallows Humor: Right before they walk into Pete's, knowing they have no money to pay and will have to beg:
    Kermit: Well, we've got to eat.
    Gonzo: Why start now?
  • Get the Sensation
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: At one point everyone is loudly talking at the same time, and Miss Piggy calls for them to be quiet, which they do...except for Janice:
    Janice: ...So I told him, "Look, buddy, I don't take my clothes off for anybody, even if it is 'artistic', and..." Oh.
  • Greasy Spoon: Pete's Luncheonette
  • Hash House Lingo: "Two zeros on a trampoline with a side of Joan of Arc", which means 2 fried eggs on toast with steak fries.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The cast of Sesame Street show up in the audience of the Frog-Piggy wedding in Manhattan Melodies. In addition, Baby Rowlf has a Big Bird doll.
    • If you look closely, you can see Uncle Travelling Matt in the audience (in the chapel) during the wedding scene.
  • Interspecies Romance: Pig and frog, of course, plus chicken and... whatever. Also, at one point:
    Masterson Rat: Do you believe in interspecies dating?
    Brooke Shields: Well, I've dated some rats before if that's what you mean. [Masterson faints]
    • An amnesiac Kermit even lampshades the absurdity of a romance between a frog and a pig.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Kermit does this, going by the name of "Phillip Phil", because he doesn't know his real name when asked by the frogs in marketing.
  • Minsky Pickup: Janice plucks one out before the opening number as the gang shops around their show.
  • No Antagonist: This is the only Muppet movie not to have any sort of central antagonist (the closest that comes along is the con artist Dabney Coleman plays early on in the film, and even then he's mainly for a throwaway gag more than anything else), with the problem instead being all the trouble Kermit has to go through trying to sell his show.
  • Our Slogan Is Terrible
  • Out of Focus: With the exception of Kermit and Piggy, most of the Muppets are Put on a Bus (literally, in some cases) fairly early and aside from some brief scenes devoted to them where Kermit's reading their mail they don't return until the last 25 minutes.
  • Pet the Dog: For someone as self-centered as she is, Miss Piggy has a rare early-movie moment of compassion when she asks Gonzo if Camilla's alright after the incident with the alleged producer.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The rats, most notably Rizzo.
  • Retail Therapy: Miss Piggy is given a cheer-up makeover.
  • Sanity Slippage: Joan Rivers and Piggy suffer one during the aforementioned Retail Therapy.
  • Saw "Star Wars" Twenty-Seven Times: Lew Zealand has seen the In-Universe 3D film Attack Of The Killer Fish ninety-seven times. His favorite part is when the fish attack, at which point he tosses boomerang fish around the movie theater to add to the excitement (the other moviegoers think it's All Part of the Show).
  • Shout-Out: Word of God states that the entire movie is an Homage to the old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney Hey Lets Put On A Show films.
  • Stealth Pun: Rizzo the rat starts singing scat.
    • Two of the rats Rizzo brings are Tattoey and Mastersonnote 
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Kermit: Piggy? I thought Gonzo was going to play the minister.
    (Piggy's only response: a guilty, nervous chuckle.)
  • Take Me Instead: Gonzo's plea when a villain has grabbed Camilla. And he takes them both instead.
  • Train-Station Goodbye
  • Travelling Salesman Montage: It's really no surprise that it fails, however. You can't have twenty pairs of eyes staring through a cafeteria window watching someone take a bite out of a sandwich and expect that you're going to endear yourself to that person.
  • Understatement
    Rowlf: [Getting the show on Broadway] is turning out to be tougher than we thought.
  • The Unintelligible: Pete, sort of.
    Pete: Hey, I tell you what is. Big city, hmm? Live, work, huh? But not city only. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples. Okay?
    Kermit: (blankly) Uh, yeah.
  • What Could Have Been: In-universe: Miss Piggy wonders what it would be like if they've known each other since they were babies.
  • Who's Watching the Store?: They must have closed Pete's for the musical, because everyone is there.

The Great Muppet CaperFranchise/The MuppetsSesame Street Presents Follow That Bird
The Great Muppet CaperFilms of the 1980sNational Lampoon's Vacation
Muppets Most WantedPuppet ShowsThe Muppets' Wizard of Oz

alternative title(s): The Muppets Take Manhattan
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