The Muppets Take Manhattan

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 5.1
Year Released 1984 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 90:33 minutes Other Extras No
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Frank Oz
Tristar Films
Columbia TriStar
Starring Jim Henson
Frank Oz
Dave Goelz
Steve Whitmire
Richard Hunt
Jerry Nelson

Art Carney
James Coco
Dabney Coleman
Gregory Hines
Linda Lavin
Joan Rivers

Case Brackley
RRP $39.95 Music Jeff Moss (music and lyrics)
Ralph Burns (music score)

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or
After Credits

Plot Synopsis

    After indulging in their most recent escapade on film, we return to a slightly earlier time to look at one of The Muppets' middle period films if you like. Of course, this was one of the Muppet films that actually was under the hand of the late Jim Henson, who unfortunately died in 1990 of pneumonia. It is poignant to reflect upon the legacy that was created by Jim Henson with The Muppets whilst watching this film, as well as to reflect upon the amount of joy the man, with the aid of all those around him, has brought to so many people, and to reflect on the fact that his creations will continue to bring joy to people of all ages for many years to come.

    So, what does this incarnation of a Muppet movie bring to the screen? Well, pretty much what we have come to love and enjoy about The Muppets - plenty of mayhem. Anything less and it would not be The Muppets now, would it?

    The broad story here is that Kermit and company have actually graduated from college (the mind boggles, it really does) and are heading out into the great wide world to seek fame and fortune. As a lasting monument to their days at college, they have created a musical that goes by the catchy name of Manhattan Melodies, which went down a treat with their college mates. Encouraged by the rapturous reception it gained, Kermit decides (after much pushing by the rest of the gang - Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Ralph, Skeeter, Animal, Gonzo and so forth) to head off to (guess where yet?) Broadway, to gain fame and fortune with the show, as well as to keep the gang together. Arriving in Nuuuuu Yawk as a bunch of optimistic graduates, the realities of life in the theatre soon come to roost - mainly in the form of their accommodation, namely the left luggage lockers at the bus station. Rejection after rejection follows until it becomes clear that Manhattan Melodies is not going to get a chance and the gang heads off in search of jobs and money. Kermit stays behind to work on the musical and survives with the help of Jenny and her father Pete, who runs a diner. Unfortunately Miss Piggy is her usual jealous self and decides to return to spy on Kermit. She does not take too kindly to the friendship between Jenny and her beloved Kermie. But, this is a Muppet movie after all (not The Muppet Movie, which is still eagerly awaited) so things obviously improve, this time in the form of the son of a big-time Broadway producer who wants to put on Manhattan Melodies as his debut as a producer. Success at last for Kermit, but in true Muppet style things still do not work out too smoothly. This time Kermit suffers an accident resulting in amnesia. Undeterred by the sudden disappearance of Kermit, the show must go on and the gang is recalled to Nuuuuu Yawk for opening night. Naturally enough, Kermit is found and through the expediency of an horrendous left cross from Miss Piggy, after several rather unfortunately ill-conceived jests about a frog and a pig getting together, regains his memory and goes on to lead the cast in a rip-roaring success of an opening night for Manhattan Melodies. Well, at least we presume it is a rip-roaring success as the film has a curiously un-Muppet like ending - right after the apparent marriage of Kermit and Miss Piggy.

    So, the story is not the greatest ever written, but we still don't care. It is The Muppets, after all, and that is all that really matters. Along for the ride are the usual string of human guest stars and amongst the cameos this time around are Art Carney, James Coco, Dabney Coleman, Gregory Hines, Linda Lavin, Joan Rivers, Elliot Gould, Liza Minelli (playing herself very well indeed), Brooke Shields (another valiant attempt at almost being an actress - and being upstaged by a rat dammit), John Landis (even by his standards this is a weird thing to be involved with), Edward Koch (better known as The Mayor of Nuuuuu Yawk) and one Cheryl McFadden also appears. Who I hear you say? Well, Trekkers will know who she is - we know her better as Gates McFadden.

    Okay, I am somewhat biased here, as I thoroughly enjoy this film, which I have to confess that I have not seen in a while owing to a somewhat lamented but definitely deceased VHS tape remaining unreplaced. The Muppets name on the cover guarantees a few laughs and plenty of mayhem - serious character and plot development is not what the punters are looking for here, anyway. It is not the best The Muppets have ever done, but it is still a lot of mindless fun for ninety minutes.

Transfer Quality


    Even with a sixteen year old film Columbia TriStar do it just a little better than the rest - although in truth this is not one of their better efforts, just miles better than what others can do.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and with the usual 16x9 enhancement that we expect from this source.

    Given that it is sixteen years old, what we have got is probably a little better than we should have expected, but is nothing really to rave over. By Columbia TriStar's lofty standards, this is a decent enough transfer albeit with little in terms of "wow factor" on offer. In general, we have a nice bright, sharp, detailed transfer, with a few relatively minor, albeit noticeable, lapses in softness that are excusable on the grounds of age. It is in general quite a clear transfer, although there were a couple of points at which this was clearly not the case and grain seemed to be quite evident. This was more noticeable than usual as these segments usually split two very sharp, clean sections of film and thus were highlighted because of it. Shadow detail was good throughout. There were a few hints of low level noise in the transfer, but nothing too distracting.

    Once again the bright colours of The Muppets have been handled pretty well, although it has to be said that this does not display the sort of glorious vibrancy that we would expect from a younger transfer. There was no indication at all of oversaturation and colour bleed was not an issue either.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, apart from a couple of minor instances of aliasing, notably during the train sequence around the 21:35 mark, and a little telecine wobble at around the 23:18 mark. There were very few real instances of film artefacts in the transfer, apart from a couple of sequences around the middle of the film which were quite noticeably affected by black dirt marks. Even so, they were not really ugly and probably would not really bother many. Other than that, this is quite a clean transfer for a film of this age.


    It is a pity that the opportunity to undertake a remaster of the audio was not taken, for we would seem to have the original soundtrack on offer here - in all its mono glory.

    There are four audio tracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtracks: English,, French, German and Spanish. I listened to the English default soundtrack, but did briefly sample the other efforts. It is quite amazing how bad The Muppets sound in dubbed German! There is nothing wrong with the soundtrack mind you, it is just that the choice of voices is somewhat weird.

    The dialogue was clear and generally easy to understand throughout - or at least as clear and easy to understand as The Muppets are supposed to be.

    There were no audio sync problems with the transfer.

    The music for the film comes from Ralph Burns, and a decent enough effort it is too. Unfortunately it is really overshadowed by the vocal music and lyrics from Jeff Moss. Rogers and Hammerstein it is not, but actually the musical aspect of the film is pretty decent (I would certainly rate it more enjoyable than some pure musicals set in Nuuuu Yawk that I have had the misfortune to review) and quite catchy too.

    Whilst this is not a raw-sounding mono soundtrack, you are certainly left in no doubt that it is coming at you fairly and squarely from the centre channel. This really would have sounded a lot better in a surround-encoded stereo soundtrack, and it is interesting to note that despite the relative youth of the film, we have not got at least a stereo soundtrack. There is certainly no distortion nor other problems with the soundtrack, and in this regard the only thing to really complain about is that we did not get a better, remastered effort.


    There is not exactly a great extras package from Columbia TriStar here, although in my view these extras are far more appropriate for the target audience of the film, as opposed to the effort on Muppets From Space.


    Again nothing too special here, but quite decently themed and quite bright to suit the target audience.

Theatrical Trailer (0:43)

    If you have seen the Muppets From Space DVD then you have seen this trailer - which is not a theatrical trailer but rather a promotional trailer for the video. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, is not 16x9 enhanced and it comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Theatrical Trailer - Muppets From Space (2:18)

    Another piece of deja vu, as this is the same effort that is on the Muppets From Space DVD. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, is not 16x9 enhanced and it comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

R4 vs R1

    Well I would love to do a Region 1 versus Region 4 comparison, but our brethren in the United States are suffering withdrawal symptoms as far as this film is concerned. Strike up another win for Region 4 here.


    Suffice it to say that I enjoyed The Muppets Take Manhattan, but it really is just a bit of a brainless piece of fun and the perfect end to a lousy day in the office, especially when you need to keep the kids quiet (well I suppose so, but I have no experience in this regard). It comes with an extras package that is more in line with the target audience's requirements I think, but the "extras at all costs" junkies will be appalled by the effort (or lack thereof).

    A pretty good video transfer.

    A decent audio transfer.

    A minor extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
4th June 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL