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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Muppets Take Manhattan is a 1984 comedy in which Kermit and the gang move to New York to try to get their play on Broadway. Miss Piggy temporarily puts up with three construction workers ogling and catcalling her before she scares them off. In another scene, Miss Piggy is mugged in Central Park when her purse gets stolen; she pursues the mugger until stopping him with a body slam. In another scene, Janice is overheard saying "I will not take off my clothes, even if it's artistic." For anyone the least bit familiar with The Muppet Show, such humor shouldn't be shocking -- humor geared toward older audiences likely to go over the heads of younger viewers enthralled with the cartoonish cuteness of the Muppets themselves was a regular feature. There's some cigarette smoking.
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What's the story?
In THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, and Gonzo are all graduating from the same regional college together. Riding high on the success of their senior variety show "Manhattan Melodies," a confident Kermit decides they should take their production to Broadway. They arrive in New York, but an enthusiastic producer turns out to be a crook, and they decide to temporarily disband. When the son (Lonny Price) of a legitimate showman decides to stage "Manhattan Melodies," a new crisis arises: Kermit has amnesia. Unbeknownst to his friends, he's working at an all-frog advertising agency, and the show can't go on without him. Most of these silly complications provide the lightweight excuse to do full-fledged all-singing, all-dancing musical numbers in grand old-fashioned style, culminating in the wedding (!) of Kermit and Piggy, a development that no subsequent Muppet movies have acknowledged.
Is it any good?
This is sort of a redo of the original The Muppet Movie, showing how the bunch all broke into show business, though with a different and fresh orientation and energy that never lets down. It's done in the zesty spirits of the old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "let's put on a show" musicals that poured out of MGM.
Humor here is expertly pitched to all age groups. Adults will notice the prominence of a Muppet rat named Rizzo, a nod to Dustin Hoffman's role in a more sordid portrayal of Manhattan life, Midnight Cowboy. For kids, the reference slides safely past. The movie uses its setting in clever and consistently amusing ways. When the hopeful Muppet troupe arrives, they set up residence in bus station storage lockers. Also, during their disillusionment with NYC, they discover the restaurants are full of rats -- Muppet rats who cook and serve the food.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way that the Muppets get along, despite being "a frog, a bear, a pig, and a ... whatever" (referring to Gonzo).
What were the challenges Kermit and the gang faced when arriving in New York and trying to get their musical on Broadway? How might this be similar to what other young performers new to the city experience when trying to make it?
Can entertainment geared toward kids also have content, sophistication, and humor that would be more likely to appeal to adults? Can young children and adults enjoy the same shows? Why or why not?
- In theaters: July 13, 1984
- On DVD or streaming: June 5, 2001
- Cast: Dabney Coleman, Juliana Donald, Lonny Price
- Director: Frank Oz
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Music and Sing-Along, Puppets
- Character strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: general audiences
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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