Take a Drink: during each musical sequence
Take a Drink: for any pun
Take a Drink: for B-level celebrity cameos (Double it for Z-grade)
Drink a Shot: during the Muppet Babies sequence
Write Down: your favorite bit part Muppets and Drink a Shot when they make an appearance. (Note: This game works with any Muppet film)
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
The Muppets have just graduated from college, and are so floored by the reception of their Senior Stage Revue that they want to take it to Broadway. After a series of disappointments the Muppets split up, leaving Kermit to fend for himself in the Big Apple. As Kermit finds temporary work in a diner, he continues to work on his dream of putting on a big Broadway show with all his friends. Meanwhile, the rest of the Muppets encounter their own difficulties finding work (Rowlf the dog is working in a kennel, Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem are playing polka at Octoberfest, and Fozzie goes into hibernation).
For this third entry in the Muppets franchise long-time puppeteer and performer Frank Oz took up the reigns as director. Like the prior two films, The Muppets Take Manhattan is less heavy on story, and more focused on creating humorous sketches for its characters to interact with each other and humans. The humor is strong as ever, with clever quips, puns, and self-references that make the film charmingly fun to watch. Cameos are less common this time around, most of them being lower-rung than in past Muppet films (clearly a budgetary constraint). This does work in the film’s favor however, as it doesn’t date the film as immediately as it would otherwise.
The budget was severely limited this time around, as a result the film has a smaller, less ambitious feel to it. While I was hopeful that Oz (Who later would go on to make some excellent films) would be able to make the most of the situation, the end result is somewhat disappointing. Many of the film’s locations are so clearly shot on sound stages that you can almost see the walls shudder as characters move around. The visual feel of the film leans heavily on “made for TV” production values. I’m honestly shocked that the studios sought a theatrical release with something this cheap looking.
While the writing for the Muppet characters is sharp, the results are less so with human characters, who often appear baffled to even be appearing on screen with a puppet. It seems as if some of the human characters didn’t even bother practicing their lines, and that director Oz had no choice but to use what takes he could get, for fear of going over budget.
While some of the songs stand up against the best of the Muppets material, others feel underproduced by comparison to prior films. The songs seem to decline in quality as the film moves along, with the later songs seeming more like unfinished demos than fully fleshed out songs.
Clearly held back by budget constraints, The Muppets Take Manhattan is nevertheless entertaining for Muppets fans, in spite of some flaws.