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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Kermit's Swamp Years (2002)

Croaker: Take it easy, Sweaty McSweatyguddy. It'll be an adventure.
Goggles: But adventures make me gassy.

- Bill Barretta, Joseph Mazzarino

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: September 17, 2002

Stars: Kermit the Frog, Croaker, Goggles, Blotch, Steve Whitmire, Bill Barretta, Joseph Mazzarino
Other Stars: John Hostetter, John Kennedy, Alice Dinnean, Kelly Collins Lintz, William Bookston
Director: David Gumpel

MPAA Rating: G
Run Time: 01h:21m:53s
Release Date: September 03, 2002
UPC: 043396084926
Genre: family


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+BB+ B

DVD Review

Many images come to mind when you think of Kermit the Frog, but the Mississippi delta probably isn't one of them. Yet like many a good frog before him, Kermit seems to come from a place that resembles Faulkner country, and this genial little tale is sort of an amphibian bildungsroman, imagining the famous frog's journey from the swamp to big-time show biz. Nobody exactly tells him how to get to Sesame Street, but there's fun in seeing him on his way.

Kermit's two best childhood pals are Goggles, a nerdy little toad, and Croaker, a blue frog; they pal around the swamp, like Huck and Tom at the fishin' hole. The great unknown is what lurks beyond—bad things, they are told, will happen should they try to leave the swamp. But Kermit will take the hero journey, and he ventures forth.

Actually, his is a rescue mission—Goggles and Blotch, a nasty bullfrog, get scooped up for sale by the owner of Wilson's Pet Shop, and Kermit and Croaker set out to bring them back to the swamp. On their trip Kermit and Croaker pick up a stray shaggy dog, Pilgrim, who promises to help them on their quest.

The other prisoners at Wilson's make a musical pitch for animal domesticity, and in the pet store sequences this movie has much in common with the Big Al's Toy Barn scenes from the Toy Story movies. Also in hot pursuit of frogs are the evil Dr. Kressman (John Hostetter), and his doofy sidekick, Mary (Kelly Collins Lintz)—they want and need frogs for their mysterious laboratory, and that can only spell danger for Kermit and his kind. Late in the game we discover that Kressman is that bane of the frog: a sadistic high school biology teacher. Dissection, anyone?

It's generally a nice little story, but if your child is a Sesame Street die-hard and will settle for nothing less, be forewarned: Kermit is the only central character that will be familiar to them. But that's fine, as the newer products from the Muppet workshop are typically fun and cuddly—they may not replace Bert and Ernie in your hearts, but they make a more than satisfactory supporting cast for everyone's favorite frog.

There's the occasional inside joke—Kermit literally gets a hand from a young fellow checking for the day's mail, and the boy is fascinated with the little green creature; we conspicuously see the name Henson emblazoned on the mailbox. And worth special note is the rocking version of Kermit's standard, The Rainbow Connection, covered by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, that plays over the very end of the picture.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: The palette is occasionally a little garish and oversaturated, but it's got a cartoony effect that may well appeal visually to the target audience. There is very little interference in the transfer, with hardly a scratch or bit of debris. The widescreen version is far preferable, as the image quality suffers along with the aspect ratio in the pan & scan option.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanish, Portugueseyes
Dolby Digital
5.0
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: You'll need your remote to click on over to the 5.0 track, as it's not among the options on the Audio Set Up menu, which is a minor annoyance. But if you want to hear lots of extra croaking frogs in your surround speakers—and, really, who doesn't?—that's the way to go. Otherwise, the 2.0 track is clean and more than acceptable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Korean, Thai, Chinese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Stuart Little, Stuart Little 2, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Muppets From Space, Madeline, Matilda
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Kermit the Frog and Horace the Horsefly
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. blooper reel
Extras Review: Some clips in the Blooper Reel (05m:52s) seem like genuine screw-ups, though others look more like the manufactured ones that run before the closing credits of the feature. Joe the Armadillo hosts a behind-the-scenes featurette (14m:50s), which includes interviews with the director, screenwriter, script supervisor, other crew members, and of course the frogs; it doesn't expose the seamy underbelly of Muppet life, but it will fill in the younger crowd on things like just what a Best Boy does. An on-the-set interview with Kermit (05m:40s) is sort of a send-up of the celebrity puff pieces that are a staple of things like Entertainment Tonight.

Kermit is joined by Horace the Horsefly for what's billed as scene-specific commentary, but it's only twenty-five minutes in all, and gives you an extra appreciation for how well written the Muppet material generally is. The joke of the puppets providing a commentary track is good for the duration of the credit sequence, and if your child (like mine) is likely to insist on watching this over and over, you'll be glad for at least a small change of pace.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

One cannot live by Sesame Street alone, and so this disc offers a nice change of pace for Muppet addicts. It's a sweet little story on a DVD rounded out with some nice extras—if you're tall enough to read this review you might want more substantial fare, but for the smaller set, this will do just fine.

 


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