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The Muppets Take Manhattan DVD

Boo, get off the stage!

Kenneth Plume (6-5-00) - Of the three "classic" Muppet films made prior to Jim Henson's death, Muppets Take Manhattan is my least favorite. It's basically a New York based remake of The Muppet Movie, with the Muppets trying to mount a Broadway show as opposed to making it to Hollywood. The film also has a manufactured feeling to it, lacking the sincerity of the first film. I will say, though, that Manhattan does have some nice musical numbers to it - including the heartbreaking "Saying Goodbye", the humorous (and amazing in execution) "Rat Scat" in the diner's kitchen, and the memorable wedding sequence from the end. The quality of the anamorphic video is surprisingly clean and sharp.

As far as extras go, this disc contains what appear to be EPK interviews with Jim Henson done in conjunction with the film – 14 short segments – but all are truly interesting and a nice historical artifact. I just wish Columbia had included a "Play All" function. Also included on the disc are more "Muppetisms" and trailers for other Henson DVD releases.

Order your copy of The Muppets Take Manhattan on DVD or VHS.

Randal Lombardo 6-18-01 - I must have made my parents watch the Muppets Take Manhattan with me a good thirty times in my childhood. The last great classic film where the Muppets play themselves until 1999's Muppets From Space.

Of all the Muppet films (including Christmas Carol and Treasure Island), this is probably the deepest and most meaningful one for me. It makes me laugh heartily and often, but it carries with it a great sentimental value as well.

As a wee lad, it was the adventure and fun of going to new places! Laughing in the face of danger! Now there is a new tone. Having just graduated college last year, I found "Saying Goodbye" very emotional, and to my own disbelief I started crying as the Muppets left each other. It was just really sad, and that's just another testament to the amazing work of Jim Henson and his cohorts. They've created characters we really care about.

The best comparison would be to a painting or a great piece of music. The most intense and emotionally stirring canvas is the one that can use lights and darks to its advantage. Too many movies these days seem content to fit into a single category. A comedy can only be funny. A suspense thriller can only be scary. Action flicks are only action. There are exceptions of course, there always are, but this movie really knows how to work on all the different levels at all the right times. And to me, that's a rarity.

The very idea of Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie and the others being separated is really depressing, but Manhattan carries the humor to keep itself from becoming overly serious. It's three-dimensional. For in the sorrow of parting is that each of them suddenly realizes their own crazy adventures. In a way it harkens back to Muppet Babies (almost ironic, since this is the Babies' origin), where each of them imagine all these great places to explore (in the closet, in the basement, or on Planet X). Muppets Take Manhattan is the realization of those dreams.

There are purists out there who will adamantly debate one way or the other as to whether the Muppet Babies are only Piggy's fantasy or if they really happened. I don't feel the importance should be placed on such chronological squabbling. There's a certain magic that these characters hold, and part of the magic lies in not always knowing what is real and what is imagined. I may be stretching out on a limb a bit here, but there are many conflicting stories of King Arthur, and the inconsistencies are not the important piece. Likewise, I enjoy thinking of Piggy's fantasy of the Babies (and the ensuing TV series- which I loved) as part of the nether realm, both true and false at the same time.

The physical comedy in this one is great, and though we don't see them flung in front of taxis or from airplanes, buses, windows, trains, etc., there are a few classic moments. The hospital scene where Kermit's arm is twisted and then gets his face mashed in is hilarious, and while the whole carriage scene with the Muppet Babies is equally hilarious, nothing makes me crack up more than watching Rowlf bouncing on his head in the crib. Pete's "Peoples is Peoples..." speech never fails to amuse.

As with the other great Muppet films, all's well that ends well, and the whole Saying Goodbye/Together Again theme worked really well for me. It made me ecstatic as a kid to see Kermit and the Gang together again.

As with the Muppet Movie, the special features (or should I say the interview and the Muppetisms) are quality, but lay a bit on the "not enough" side of the railroad track. The Henson interview is really well done, but one thing I do think might have been nice to have is a "play all chapters" button. Having to watch each individual section by returning to the menu and hitting play chapter, some of which last not even 20 seconds, breaks the flow up a bit. Having an interview with Jim is really great and it shows how much he cared for what he was doing. I can't think of many people who would be excited about stepping down on the power ladder so they could be around their co-workers a bit more and loosen up.

Again, another perfect 5 star rating that must be taken down a half-Kermit for the simple reason that I would have loved more!

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