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The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

Who is the only frog to graduate from Vassar? If you guessed Kermit, you’re right… sort of. Vassar served as a stand-in for the fictional Danhurst College from which Kermit and his Muppet friends graduate at the start of their third feature. It’s one of the many New York state locations in this lively musical about how Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and the gang make it to Broadway.

The highlight of the graduation ceremony is a well-received performance of Kermit’s new musical, Manhattan Melodies, which convinces the Muppets to take the show to Broadway. They just need to find an honest producer, avoid getting ripped off by a con man (Dabney Coleman), keep the gang from splintering, and find Kermit after an auto accident gives him amnesia. Along the way they encounter frogs who work in advertising, rats who work in a restaurant, and a horde of guest stars, including Liza Minnelli, Art Carney, Joan Rivers, Gregory Hines, Elliott Gould, and then-mayor Ed Koch.

The success of the syndicated The Muppet Show on TV naturally led Jim Henson’s creations to the big screen, starting with The Muppet Movie (1979) and The Great Muppet Caper (1981). With more time and a bigger budget, Henson and director Frank Oz were able to show Muppets in full form by combining marionettes with the hand and rod puppets seen on TV. They also tried to find new things for the Muppets to do, with a group of rats cooking breakfast to the tune of “Rat Scat” among the film’s highlights. The fantasy sequence with the characters as children inspired the Muppet Babies TV series.

d. Frank Oz, 95 minutes, DCP

Presented in a 2K DCP with 5.1 audio.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures