Tim Babb’s March Blog Madness: Day 11
In 1984, the final Muppet movie to feature Jim Henson was released. It was called “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” The story follows everyone’s favorite felt family as they go from college to New York to try and sell their play, “Manhattan Melodies” on Broadway (It is never explained how or why they write a play about Manhattan without ever stepping foot in New York…or how it could possibly be good, but more on that later). Since Broadway had a shortage of kiddie themed shows at the time (this was pre-Lion King or Beauty and The Beast), Kermit is able to sell the show.
“Yeah I just sold the show. What could go wrong?”
Unfortunately, right after Kermit sells the show he goes missing when he gets hit by a taxi and develops amnesia (which is much better outcome than what happens to MOST frogs when they get hit by cars). The rest of the cast and crew spend two weeks prepping the show and looking for Kermit. Finally it is opening night and Kermit (still with amnesia) somehow finds himself backstage at the show just before curtain time. Miss Piggy gives him a good karate chop and his memories come back (because that’s how that would work).
Still better medicine than Kaiser.
So they catch Kermit up on the fact that it’s opening night and it’s time to start the show. Kermit is hesitant because he says there’s still something “missing” form the show (oh…he’s been saying that the whole movie…did I forget to mention that? Ah well) They convince Kermit to go on anyway and on the way to the stage they pass a bunch of random Muppets (frogs, bears, chickens, etc) and Fozzie asks if they can watch the show from backstage and Kermit decided THAT is what has been missing, “More frogs, and dogs and bears..and whatever! You’re not gonna watch the show, you’re gonna be IN the show.” …and that brings me to the point of this blog.
“C’mon gang. You’re going to help tear open a plot hole! Yaaaay!!!
How in the world did Kermit re-work the script and give it to these new “actors” in time for them to learn their parts?! I mean Kermit makes this call LITERALLY on his way to the stage…seconds before the opening number! Then the open number is maybe 15 seconds long and BOOM…all these people who had no idea they were going to be in a play a minute ago are all of a sudden in costumes and singing and dancing like they’d been planning this for years.
“I can see how we planned this in less than a minute.”
And they have all these elaborate props and moving scenery…where did that come from? None of the original cast is in the second number? Did they have all that laying around? If so, this could perhaps be the best improv troupe EVER!
“Hey you use that cut out of a bus, I’m going to dress like a police officer and direct traffic.”
“we’re gonna put on these construction hats and put up this ‘Dogs At Work’ sign”
“Wow…lucky they were expecting some talking/singing dogs to come by the theater.”
“Every theater has this stuff, right?”
Then we jump to the finale, the wedding of Kermit and Piggy in a huge church set. No wonder Kermit thought something was missing. If it hadn’t been for all of those extra “actors” most of that church would be empty. That’s just poor set design. Why design a church that seats hundreds if your play has 11 actors in it? No wonder Broadway tickets are so expensive. Wasteful…just wasteful. Thank goodness Kermit was able to make that work with only a few moments of rational thought.
How are Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem in the second row on the left if they are in the orchestra pit playing the music?
But lets put all that aside for a second. It’s a good thing that the film ends immediately after the play’s finale so we don’t see the audience riot and the Muppets get run out of town on a rail. From curtain up to the end of the play, Manhattan Melodies is 7 minutes and 32 seconds long. I know some guys out there have wished that Broadway musicals were that short…but it is not the case. Most Broadway shows are longer than the entire Muppets Take Manhattan movie.
Look out behind you , green guy…they’re coming with pitch forks!
But we’ll set length aside for a second as well…let’s focus on the “plot” of Manhattan Melodies. The play starts with a bunch of animals singing about how it’s great to be “together again.” Okay…but who are you and why weren’t you together before this? Do we get to find out? Nope! When the number ends they all disappear to reveal a busy Manhattan street where there is a breaking front page news story. What is that story? “Somebody’s Getting Married.”
I guess crime was on vacation that day
Yes, it is the slowest news day in the history of Manhattan…and perhaps the world. The entire city seems to be a buzz with the news that somebody’s getting married. Now I could see if a pig and a frog were getting married that it might make a few heads turn, but they don’t say that…they just repeat “somebody.” It’s almost as though the identity of the soon-to-be married couple is a mystery. But then the play takes a dramatic turn when…they get married. That’s it. Curtain down. Thanks for coming. Drive safe. Man, if you thought Mama Mia wasn’t compelling, you are gonna gouge your eyes out at this “story.”
“You were right…I would have rather watched Legally Blonde”
So I guess after this, the show closes. Which I guess is good since most of those extra “actors” wouldn’t necessarily be available for an extended run. So that would have been awkward. But hey…at least they lived their dream and performed on Broadway…for one night.
Despite all this…Muppets Take Manhattan is STILL my favorite Muppet movie! Thus proving something doesn’t have to make sense to be awesome!