Saturday, August 27, 2005

In Praise of Puppet Peoples

Last night Katy and I went to see "The Muppets Take Manhattan" at the Central Park Film Festival in Rumsey Playfield. "TMTM" is the first movie I distinctly remember seeing in a theatre (it came out in 1984, when I was five or six); they showed it at Carleton once, in a very well-attended movie night, and Katy and I watched it on video when I first came to New York in August of 2000. Googling the movie now, I see that it's gotten mixed-to-negative reviews, with most people feeling it's only a mediocre entry in the Muppet canon; but my vision of it is so obscured by nostalgia, my fondness for the Muppets, my love for New York City, and my ability to sing pretty much all the lyrics to the not-bad songs in the movie that last night I was ready to put it up there with "Singin' in the Rain." And my fellow New Yorkers seemed to agree -- I turned around to look at the audience during the climactic wedding sequence and there wasn't a frown in the Playfield. Long live goofy, happy movies, whatever the critics may say.

Three other "TMTM" tidbits:

  • When Jenny and Kermit are first seen in Central Park, right before they start jogging, they're sitting on Cherry Hill overlooking the Lake.
  • Lonny Price, who plays the sweetly nerdy producer Ronny Crawford in "TMTM," also played the sinisterly nerdy resort heir Neil Kellerman in "Dirty Dancing" -- another seminal, probably-not-good-but-lord-I-love-it movie of my youth.
  • I remembered the kindly diner-owner Pete's monologues with fond incomprehension, but it turns out the incomprehension is justified: It really doesn't make any sense. "Big city, hmm? Live. Work, huh? But. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples. Okay?"



  1. That reminds me! I finally received your German Waldorf & Statler postcard this week. One of my friends (who had flown back to India for the summer) returned & found a whole pile of mail, which she put into a big ol' enveloped & sent to me. Among the many, many loan consolidation offers, it was nice to have some REAL mail. And now I need to find a place of honor to hang my Muppets-Speaking-German postcard (they're saying something like "'the question is, how many birthdays is it?' 'no, the question is, who cares?'" - altho' I know you picked the card just for the Muppets-Speaking-German element and didn't really care what they were saying in German)

  2. p.s. the complete first season of The Muppet Show is now on DVD! The "best of" has been out for quite some time, but this development has me all excited. Charles Aznavour! Joel Grey! Lena Horne!! Ethel Merman! Rita Moreno! Mummenschanz (oh, but what a great collaboration for the Muppets!)! Vincent Price! Ben Vereen!

    Okay, I'm getting a little carried away. But I think you get the point.