The Muppets Take Manhattan


…neither the stars nor the songs are a big draw this time around, but The Muppets Take Manhattan has an airy, lightweight quality that gets it over the finish line…

A political hot potato right now, but I’m not afraid of controversy, so let’s deal with the problematic text that is The Muppets Take Manhattan. Serious political scholars will know that the Muppets have recently been banned for public life due to the inflammatory nature of their ‘shows’, which are, in reality, celebrations of socialism, obscenity or capitalism depending on who you ask. I noted when I furtively but legally obtained my Muppets movie boxed set last year that The Muppets Take Manhattan was no longer part of the package; what outré imagery and dangerous political thought would be contained within?

That title throws me for a start; in what way could or should The Muppets ‘Take’ Manhattan? The line seems to come from Leonard Cohen’s ‘First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin…’ which seems to suggest that Kermit and his friends are organising some kind of military take-over, but instead we see them hoping to put on a simple vaudeville show. A first meeting with an agent (Dabney Coleman) proves a false dawn, and soon the Muppets are reduced to sleeping in lockers in a train station, again, exactly the kind of anti-social behaviour that Disney should rightly be cracking down on in these uncertain times.

Alas, it turns out that The Muppets Take Manhattan is the usual friendly fare, and the reason for its ‘banning’ is actually to do with copyright issues involving Lew Grade’s old ITC brand. That said, there’s a few moments here that wouldn’t cut the muster in today’s politically correct cinema, namely Animal chasing buxom young women about as a joke. Apparently Dustin Hoffman pulled out at the last minute, and a slew of guest stars did the same; Liza Minnelli is the one big name still involved, in a brief gag about a Sardi’s style diner with pictures of celebrities on the walls.

Neither the stars nor the songs are a big draw this time around, but The Muppets Take Manhattan has an airy, lightweight quality that gets it over the finish line. For those seeking political discourse, however, it would be best to look elsewhere. No-one is banning the Muppets; the difficulty in seeing this particular film is about them being victims of capitalism rather than socialist thinking.


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  1. Nice wind up and solution there at the end of the review. I frankly don’t want muppets unless they get to be “monsters” occasionally. Sweedoms also got to chase some bikini clad cuties around in one of the films. But I don’t recall which. Which reminds me that Peter Jackson did a kind of adult “muppet” film wiht some foul themes. I keep wondering why we can’t have more adult puppet shows.

  2. ah good lead up to the twist ending in the review! Very nicely stated. In another muppets film Sweedoms chases a bunch of lovelies in bikinis as they squeal. While the muppets are adorable it’s good to remember that they may have the capacity to cause damsel-in-distress behavior in otherwise rational beings. I have to say I love the old Peter Jackson puppet movie for the very reason of its foulness. Why can’t we have more adult offerings from “muppets”?

  3. If I wasn’t so busy snorting up kilo’s of the purest coke with my local seniors center, I’d soundly denounce you for b ringing such an abominable movie before the eyes of children. But since I am so busy, let the little rotters watch it!

    Of course, the less said about Minelli the better….

  4. It’ll be the cocktail connection that’s the problem for the authorities. As you know there has been an increasing problem with puppet intake of alcohol.

    • Kermit has had his issues in the public arena, but should we ban ALL the muppets because of one frog’s misdemeanors?

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