Plot: What’s it about?
Those rascals the muppets have returned once again and this time, they plan to storm Broadway and turn their small play into a smash success. The crew has just graduated from college and now want to take on the world, which starts with the bright lights of New York City. Kermit has penned a musical titled Manhattan Melodies and the gang all has parts, so they trek to New York and attempt to get a slot on the biggest stage of them all, Broadway. But they soon discover that won’t be a simple task, as they cannot even manage to arrange a meeting, let alone secure a producer for their musical show. As time passes and the other muppets start to lose faith, Kermit has to believe hard enough for all of them and make it happen, otherwise it just won’t become the smash hit he knows it can be. But can Kermit keep the others in good spirits and work hard enough to get the show made, or is it back to the minor leagues for the muppets and their musical?
This is the third motion picture with those lovable muppets and while it is more of the same antics, I don’t think it works as well as the previous installments. It is still a fun movie with some great musical numbers and a lot of laughs, but it seems to have lost some of the touch the others, especially the first film had. Frank Oz (Bowfinger, Little Shop of Horrors) supplies solid direction and other tasks, but it seems like the humor has taken a new turn here, more adult in context, though not by too much. In other words, the kids will like this one, but it seems as though the humor is more aimed at an older audience, although the movie is very much child-safe, whatever that means. The cameos are much less distracting here, with fewer of them and I also think better placement & execution. Joan Rivers, Gregory Hines, Dabney Coleman, Linda Lavin, and Art Carney top off the list, but others also appear in small roles. I think this movie is fun and has a lot to offer, so I recommend it to those interested, but don’t expect the same magic the original film had.
Video: How does it look?
The Muppets Take Manhattan comes to 4K with a new 1.85:1 HEVC 4K encode. The image shows much less grain than the original and less print debris, which allows for a cleaner, sharper overall picture. The colors seem rich enough and never run into problems, while contrast is well balanced and maintains a good amount of detail. While it’s certainly a step up from its Blu-ray counterpart, I felt a few scenes still seemed a bit “dingy” for lack of a better word. Nevertheless, the target audience might not mind (assuming the “target audience” is your children). If you grew up with this movie, odds are you’re in your late 40’s and might not mind since, you know, nostalgia.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio mix does take it up a notch or two and considering the muppets belt out song after song, it’s a welcome addition. Even so, this is a stable and even handed option and in the end, I couldn’t find much to complain about. The dialogue seems crisp and never hard to understand, with no hiss present to distract the audience in the least. It’s a decent mix, but not anything that’ll blow the roof off the place.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Disc One (4K)
- Audio Commentary – This new, yes you read that right, supplement is a commentary track from director Frank Oz. How cool is this that we get a new commentary track from the director some four decades after its initial release? Oz cites several things about the shoot, working with “muppets” and everything in between. It’s a great thing, especially if you’re a fan of the film.
Disc Two (Blu-ray)
- Muppetisms – Carried over from the initial Blu-ray is this, a segment in which Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy & Kermit the Frog, and Pepe have a few, minor, laughable moments.
- Jim Henson Interview – Henson, who sadly passed away in 1990, has a 15 minute segment in which he discusses a variety of things about the muppets and the movie as a whole.
The Bottom Line
There’s a generation (or two) that probably don’t know what a muppet is. And that’s fine. There are plenty of us that do. While I preferred The Muppet Movie over this, it’d been quite some time since I sat down and watched it. No, tears didn’t flow from my eyes remembering my childhood, but hey – to have this movie in 4K with new features is always welcome.