It's Not Easy Being Mean, Part 3
British Correspondent - The Muppets have had to deal with bankruptcy, bad weather, fumigation, and both being eaten as well as eating some fairly dubious looking food. However, above all these advisories, it is the human villains that cause the greatest danger to the Muppets -- dangers, not only physical, but also of temptation, or losing themselves or selling out.
Martin Price (I thought his name was Murray?)
Of all the Muppet villains, the one which we know the least about is Martin ‘Murray Plotzki’ Price. He shows up in The Muppets Take Manhattan as the first of a long line of Hollywood producers who turn away the Muppets in their search for more singing and dancing and making people happy. Interested, instead, in making money, Martin P. (not Robinson) is a conman and a schemer and has a mildly evil looking mustache.
Kermit and gang come upon this guy on what appears to be a quiet day at the office. Gates McFadden is being secretarial (yes, she off of Star Trek--you know, the one that wasn’t the one who wore the catsuit) and sends the frog with a musical on through to meet her boss, Martin. Here he sits in an office with nice upholstery and trophies looking every bit the major Broadway producer–even down to the Ahab the Musical poster on the back wall (yes, the musical about the whale guy that wasn’t Jonah). And although he and Kermit have creative difficulties (songs AND dances....no cops, no shootings, certainly no car chases...) it seems as though Kermit’s pitch has gotten through because Martin smells a hit! However, the Muppets smell something else... a scam (hey, don’t blame the dog). Martin’s asking for $300 apiece from them, and, frankly, he should probably just receive 30 pieces of silver because his next act was sure to be betraying them.
Before he gets a chance to do this, however, he’s ever so politely interrupted by the lovely McFadden who informs him there are two policemen outside... and an old woman whose life savings he scammed out of her. Some chicken strangling, weirdo bravery, drummer ankling and a random ladder later and Murray is taken away by the police, leaving the Muppets to continue their search for a caring producer in the cut-throat world of Broadway.
Now, I know what you are thinking...Martin Price was onscreen for less than ten minutes right at the start of the movie, surely he doesn’t make the cut when it comes to Muppet villains... Am I also going to include the shaving guy, the burger man and the guy that stole Piggy’s purse? No, no... And here’s my reasoning: Martin is worth highlighting as the villain of the piece because he reflects the kind of person into which Kermit could have changed. Can I get a collective gasp of horror?
You see, for a moment, Kermit and Martin weren’t all that different. In order to break into Broadway, Kermit was determined to do anything (hey, he even read up on it and made a three part plan!). Kermit changed his appearance, donning gold chains, an afro, and a pink shirt (SALMON!). He lied, breezing into the office of Lenny Winesop and jumping on the desk with his script and his speech. He was prepared to use fraud, putting his picture on the wall at the restaurant and sending out rats with a whisper campaign. He even grew a mustache! All in all, he really was living up to the phrase, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’
But, unlike Martin, Kermit didn’t allow this lapse of judgment to take over his life. He was so unlike the evil producer in many more ways than they were similar. Kermit wasn’t doing this for profit; he was doing it for his friends. It wasn’t even his idea to come to New York in the first place! His motives were pure...even if his methods left him feeling uneasy. And they certainly did. Sitting in the park, Kermit admitted he felt like a phony and realised he couldn’t do it anymore. His friends were important, the show was important, but for Kermit his character and what was inside his heart was more important.
And he can act as an example to all of us. How often do we feel that we must change ourselves to get ahead, to move up in life, or to be popular? And how often does this just leave us feeling empty inside? By deciding to remain true to himself, Kermit defeated the little Martin Price inside of him...the one that resides in all of us... And instead of becoming a phony Broadway producer, Kermit found that his friends – Jenny, Piggy, and later Ronnie and the gang – left him as fulfilled as he ever needed to be.
I could go on to discuss how his amnesia becomes a metaphor of his losing and regaining his identity earlier in the movie... but I’m sure you got that already. Right?
Ruthlessness: 7 (Martin Price was going to take the Muppets money, sure, but his real ruthless side came out when he was prepared to grab a chicken by the neck and a weirdo by the nose.)
Sidekick: 5 (Martin’s secretary was beautifully played by Gates McFadden, but was not as memorable as the secretary from The Muppet Movie – Miss Tracy. However, another interesting comparison between Martin and what Kermit could have become is that Martin’s sidekick was also in Star Trek and Kermit’s sidekick Jenny later appeared in an episode...Coincidence?)
Evil appearance: 5 (He had a creepy, moustached, businessman air about him, but nothing overtly evil.)
Talking the talk: 5 (Clearly he could lead anyone on but there was nothing that witty or interesting about his business chatter.)
Likability: 1 (There was nothing to like about this guy. If you were friends with him, you know he’d swap you in a moment for a little cash.)
Returnability: 10 (Personally, I would have never invited Martin Price or Murray Plotski back...but clearly someone else thought differently as the apartment building in which Piggy lives in the world where Kermit was never born is called the ‘Murray Hotel’...where oddly enough Piggy makes a living by conning people as a fortune teller...)
Likelihood to borrow your lawnmower and sell it on ebay: 10 (Which reminds me...where IS my leafblower?)
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier