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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Statler: Well, how do you like the film?
DVD ReviewGrowing up during the advent of VCRs in the early 1980s, our family had only a few movies on tape that were suitable for the kids to watch. One of our repeatable favorites was The Muppet Movie—a highly entertaining classic for both children and adults that remains effective after more than 25 years. This amusing picture tells the story of how Kermit, Fozzy, Gonzo, and all their pals originally came together and entered the world of show business. It includes numerous catchy songs and sets the foundation for all the Muppet films to follow. Human actors combine seamlessly with the Muppet puppets to deliver an enjoyable feature.
The primary character is definitely Kermit the Frog, the little green Muppets leader who embodies the heart of the diverse group. He begins this tale in his swamp singing The Rainbow Connection, a tune that refuses to leave your brain once you hear it. Dom DeLuise makes a surprise appearance as a movie agent and gives Kermit the idea of going to Hollywood. This quest drives the narrative, but it only provides the basic framework for countless gags and interludes that offer homage to classic films. Kermit's first new buddy is Fozzie Bear, an unfortunate entertainer with strong enthusiasm for everything. They jump into a bear's natural habitat, a Studebaker, and begin a lengthy road trip to the Golden State. Another music highlight is Moving Right Along, which includes all types of sight gags and silliness from both lovable Muppets. Their travels eventually bring them into contact with Gonzo, who comes from an inexplicable species that's sort of like a chicken, and Miss Piggy—my least favorite character but a possibly new love for Kermit. Their journey will include numerous highs and lows, but I'm giving away little by revealing that the ending is a happy one.
This film includes an amazing collection of famous comedians in cameo roles throughout the journey. Steve Martin shines as an especially sarcastic waiter during a romantic evening, Mel Brooks chews the scenery as a mad scientist, and Orson Welles exudes a larger-than-life presence as a Hollywood studio executive. Other noteworthy stars include Richard Pryor, Milton Berle, Telly Savalas, Bob Hope, Elliott Gould, Carol Kane, and James Coburn. The primary human enemy is Charles Durning as Doc Hopper, a businessman who aims to use Kermit's charms to sell his French-fried frog legs. Frustrated at every turn, Hopper continues to search for fresh avenues to trap Kermit, and eventually decides to kill him, which leads to a silly Western showdown in a ghost town. Playing "spot the acting star" does add a gimmicky feel to the picture, but it provides extra reasons for adults to enjoy the movie.
The Muppet Movie does have some cheesy moments, but creator Jim Henson's charming nature shines through and makes the story infectious for even the more cynical viewers. Veteran television director James Frawley keeps the plot moving and allows the Muppets to carry the show. Combining silly jokes, a likeable cast of characters, and enjoyable music, this film deserves a place in the home libraries of families around the world.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-
Image Transfer Review: The Muppet Movie utilizes a supposedly remastered 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that includes a surprisingly mediocre image. Certain shots fail to improve significantly over the VHS version and offer a grainy picture. This presentation is uneven throughout, but there are some bright outdoor shots that help to partially make up for the less stellar moments. This disc also includes an average full-frame transfer that should work for kids (or possibly adults) unaccustomed to the bars on the screen.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: This disc offers a solid 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer that presents the numerous memorable tunes effectively. The rear speakers do not receive much use, which is not a major surprise considering the age of the source material. The audio remains clear most of the time but does lack the enhancements normally expected from Dolby tracks, again probably due to the print's age.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Lady & the Tramp, The Wild, The Shaggy Dog, The Muppet Show: Season One, Muppets Wizard of Oz
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Extras Review: The only notable extra is Pepe Profiles Presents—Kermit: A Frog's Life, a six-minute feature on his life hosted by Pepe the King Prawn. This silly piece includes "interviews" with Fozzie, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy concerning their pal and a conversation between Pepe and the star frog. The lack of any other significant extras within a so-called "Anniversary Edition" is extremely disappointing. Even if the producers wanted to focus on the child audience, they still could have offered more than one brief feature.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsThe Muppet Movie provides an entertaining experience for kids and adults alike. If you purchased the original DVD release in 2001, there are few reasons to pick up this new "anniversary edition." However, newcomers to this amusing film are advised to include it on their holiday wish lists.
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