HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Muppet Movie
HTS Overall Score:75
Ahhhh, yes, the Muppets. As a child of the 80’s, I remember staying up with my brothers, laying on the floor in front of the TV and watching re-runs of the classic Muppets show till I was forced to go to bed. Through the 70’s and beyond, The Muppets have been Jim Henson’s crowning achievement. While the man has influence the TV and Movie world more than people realize with ground breaking achievements in puppeteering and his influence on shows such as “Farscape” and “Fraggle Rock,” he is most well-known for creating the loveable crew of puppets that every kid for 35+ years has seen at least once in their lives. The Muppet movie itself was almost a feat at the time. No one knew whether moving from the TV to the Silver screen was a good idea. Sure kids loved the movie, but would families be willing to shell out tons of money for their kids to go see something that they could see every week on public television? Add to that Jim Henson and Director James Frawley's rather tense working relationship which almost put the film in jeopardy more than once, but as you can see, the film was an overnight sensation and has spawned enough sequels to choke a horse (although there’s a few sequels that proooooooooooobably should be forgotten about).
The film revolves around how the Muppets actually got together for the very first time and assembled in Hollywood to start making kids smile around the globe. Kermit (Jim Henson) was just a simple frog in the swamps, singing to himself, until an aggressive film agent (Dom DeLuise) happens to be fishing near his singing hole and encourages Kermit to head to Hollywood where he hears that they are auditioning for talking frogs. Realizing that he can make a lot of kids happy with his singing and dancing, Kermit launches out. Along the way he runs into Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), a ruthless business man who wants to use Kermit as his spokesman for “Doc Hopper’s, Fried Frog Legs” restaurant and won’t take no for an answer. Escaping Doc Hopper’s greedy clutches, Kermit runs into a bear named Fozzy (Frank Oz), who’s struggling to make it in the world as a comedian. The two decide to team up and head to Hollywood together. Along the way, they pick up quite a few more strange animals into their cadre. A Gonzo (who no one knows who or what he is), a dog named Rowlf, a wild Animal, A crazy scientist and his mumbling assistant and the most selfish, aggressive, overbearing pile of pork that everyone loves……Miss Piggy.
While the Muppets are on their travels, and through every new addition to the crew, they are still haunted by the relentless Doc Hopper. Not only is he not going to give up, he’s gotten so vindictive as to have initiated a stream of attempted violence on our poor frog. When threatening doesn’t work he turns to hired guns, and when THOSE don’t work, he brings in a frog hunting specialist whose main goal is to turn our young friend into a fried southern delicacy unless Kermit agrees to be spokesman.
“The Muppet Movie” is a fantastic piece of escapist entertainment that appeals to kids of all ages, especially the younger ones. The film is every bit as good as the Saturday morning fare that was its inspiration, and is just as light and fluffy. Like Mr. Rogers, The Muppets has a tendency of trying to teach kids good values wrapped up in harmless entertainment. Just like Mr. Rogers the Muppets had garnered enough of a following that even the Hollywood greats were interested. As a result the film was able to rope in a HUGE quantity of A-list actors to make cameos and appearances from Orson Welles, Milton Berles, Bob Hope, Dom DeLuise, to Mel Brooks, Steve Martin (when he was actually funny) and Madeline Kahn. Each giving a memorable performance accompanied by their trade mark wit.
The plot is as thin as they come and just a vehicle for all the muppets to tell their trade mark jokes and witty banter, but that’s exactly what the audience comes for…. The characters. Everyone wants to see Miss Piggy use and abuse poor Kermit, all the while chasing frantically after him romantically. The beaker and Dr. Bunsen fans want to see some chemical mishap that blows the building sky high, and everyone wants to see animal rage and roar, crashing into things and eating the seat cushions. The Muppets created a following all their own and kids love it, cheesy 70's jokes and all (although the heckling of Waldorf and Statler never gets old for me). The Muppets have never stuck to convention and love to display their warm and accepting heart on their sleeves for everyone to see, and it works for them. “The Muppets Movie” isn’t the greatest of their films, or even compared to their TV shows, but it was the film that launched many more of a sequel and to that, I say “thanks for all the good times”.
Rated G for General Audiences
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12465[/img]After the debacle that was “The Sword in the Stone” and the mediocre release of “Oliver and Company”, I was a tad worried going into this one. Luckily for us Disney has given us a very pleasing and natural looking 1.85:1 AVC encode for “The Muppet Movie.” Covered in a rich layer of natural looking film grain, reminiscent of the good old 70’s, “The Muppet Movie” is beautiful and full of luscious detail. Facial detail is very, very good (for both animals and humans alike), there are some scenes that are a bit soft, especially in the country shots and backgrounds of the set, but nothing that overtly offensive. Dark levels are accurate and deep most of the time. I noticed that in some of the outdoor scenes the blacks were a bit greyer than I’d like and that they would switch to Inky black in the next scenes (albeit sometimes a bit crushed). Colors look OUTSTANDING. Compared to the old DVD, it’s like looking at a new movies, the reds and greens literally POP off the screen with a newly remastered goodness. There has been a SLIGHT use of the DNR button, but it’s been done so well that no one can complain. The old DVD anniversary edition was literally SWIMMING in film grain, and upon closer inspection you can definitely see that the grain evident in the DVD edition has been reduced by a fair margin. Luckily for us, it was done artfully so and without introducing any smearing or other artifacts. Overall, a very impressive restoration for a classic film.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12466[/img]Just as good as the video, the audio track for “The Muppets Movie” shines like it has never done before. As with most of Disney’s older films, it tends to be a tad front loaded for my tastes, but that’s more to do with the times and the priorities of the sound engineer back in the 70’s rather than any fault of the encode. The dialogue is clean and clear for the most part, although some of the lines are a bit tinny at times. Dynamic range is well balanced and the effects stay well within sonic reason. The surrounds are a bit hit or miss, unfortunately, but there’s still a lot coming through those rear channels, the musical numbers in particular. Now, there’s a surprising amount of LFE in this film. I was expecting a rather anemic LFE track, but there’s quite a number of times where the subs light up and start singing (usually WHILE someone is singing to be exact) and there’s a scene with a 30 foot Animal at the end of the film that really starts the ground a rumbling. A bit flawed in some ways, “The Muppet Movie’s” audio track is still a well done track and stands head and shoulders over many of the lazily restored tracks that happen so frequently in catalog titles today.
• Jim Frawley's Extended Camera Test
• Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along
• Pepe Profiles Present Kermit: A Frog's Life
• Disney Intermission
• Doc Hopper's Commercial
• Original Trailers
A goofy time that’s good for children and adults alike, “The Muppet Movie” is a fun piece of escapist entertainment and history. Just as goofy and entertaining as back in the 70’s, it teems with excitement and enthusiasm that only Jim Henson was capable of creating in a movie, the zany sort of entertainment that influenced shows such as “Fraggle Rock”, the “Animeniacs” and many more. Due to the solid video and audio scores, I have to give this film a solid thumbs up for all fans of the show, and highly encourage those kids (or kids at heart) who haven’t been introduced to our friendly Muppets to pull up a chair, make a bag of popcorn and sit down for a good ole family movie.
Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt
Directed by: James Frawley
Written by: Jerry Juhl, Jack Burns
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, German DD 2.0
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 95 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Buy The Muppet Movie Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Get it!
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