The Muppets DON'T Take Manhattan

In perhaps the greatest think piece on contemporary theater ever written, journalist Chad Jones asks earnestly, "Why aren't the Muppets Broadway bound?"—an inquiry of polite outrage over the fact that The Muppets' appearance on the New York stage is much-deserved, long-overdue, and, at this time, nowhere in sight.

Chad also smartly mentions The Muppets Take Manhattan, which happens to be my favorite Muppet movie of all time. In fact, one of the pieces that was supposed to be in rotation in Jukebox Stories was an essay I never got around to finishing about how The Muppets Take Manhattan is hands down the greatest primer on a life in the arts I have ever encountered. Here's an excerpt:

Because I've managed to find some success as a writer, a lot of aspiring artists—writers, actors, musicians—often ask me for advice. They want to know the "secret to success." They want some sort of clear guidance on how to live and work. They want, at the very least, to know how to survive. In other words, they want a piece of me. And oftentimes, I brush them off and demean them and crush their dreams because, really, you gotta eliminate the competition.

But, you know, I understand people's need to be pointed in the right direction. Because if you decide you want to become a doctor or lawyer or pursue most any profession, there are definite, concrete things that you have to do. It's really not a mystery how you achieve most career goals. You know, you get a degree or you pass an exam or you do an internship, etc. Logical steps.

But artists are left without a guidebook, without a clear-cut plan to dictate what they're supposed to do. So do I recommend higher education? Do I recommend joining organizations that support artists? Do I recommend such seminal books as The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron or Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott?

Well, I say, none of these things. I say, go to the store and buy a particular movie on DVD at full price and go home and watch it and study it. This movie is the most accurate guide to being an artist, to surviving as an artist, that I have ever come across. It shows you what artists go through and how they cope and how they can triumph in the end if they so choose. And the name of that movie? The name of that movie is:
The Muppets Take Manhattan.

I am not kidding. This is not a joke. The adventures of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy and friends in this particular movie are archetypal and practical life lessons that have the power to change you.

For a long, elaborate, in-depth analysis of the film, you'll just have to wait for a future edition of Jukebox Stories. In terms of deep movie explication, I pretty much blew my wad on HSM3—I need some time to recharge.

I do want to point out, though, that
The Muppets Take Manhattan also boasts an impressive collection of catchy songs, including a number in which Miss Piggy imagines them all as Muppet babies:

And the "Saying Goodbye" number, in which the Muppets all go their separate ways at one point because they can't make it in New York, is heartbreaking. And I could go on and on, but I won't.

You can read Chad's entire piece here.


  1. That was so. Fucking. Adorable.

  2. I have always been a huge fan of the Muppets (I must be the only adult in the world with the music from the Muppet Movie on my iPod) but I've long felt that all of life's problems can be solved by watching the Muppets. The lesson at the end of the Muppet Movie has always touched me - even if your dreams come crashing down around you in failure, you just have to get up and try again. Jim Henson left us much too early.

    Watching that clip just now made me tap into some deep seated childhood memory where I realized that I knew all of the words to that song. My personal favorite, for no other reason than it's funny, is The Great Muppet Caper.

  3. I bought a box of cereal that had a DVD of The Muppets Take Manhattan as the prize inside. After the coupon was doubled, the total cost was $1.50.
    If someone had told me as a kid, in the 70's, that in the 21st century, I could get a favorite movie in a cereal box for less than two bucks, I woulda' kicked him in the nuts for such an outright lie.

  4. I prefer "The Muppet Movie" actually. It's one of the films that taught me English as a kid.

    And great slang like "a fork in a road" from songs like "Movin Right Along"