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Blu-ray Reviews

The Muppets Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 47 Matt Hough

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Posted March 15 2012 - 10:06 AM

It’s always great to welcome back Jim Henson’s magnificent Muppets to movie screens, but James Bobin’s The Muppets is only semi-worthy of their special gifts. A sometimes innocent, sometimes smirking musical comedy, The Muppets should have been a lot more musical and a lot funnier than it’s turned out to be though fond memories of the hundreds of hours of pleasure the gang has offered through their television and film appearances earn them enough good will to skate by in this only moderately successful venture.


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The Muppets (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by James Bobin

Studio: Disney
Year: 2011
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1   1080p   AVC codec  Running Time: 103 minutes
Rating: PG
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English, French; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish


Region: A-B-C
MSRP: $ 49.99



Release Date: March 20, 2012

Review Date: March 15, 2012




The Film

3.5/5


Thrilled by their first trip to Hollywood, Muppet-like Walter, his brother Gary (Jason Segel), and Gary’s girl friend Mary (Amy Adams) are dismayed to find out that the Muppet Theater is about the be torn down by venture capitalist Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) who has learned there’s oil under the theater. The Muppets have two weeks to reclaim the property which will take ten million dollars. Their only solution is to have a telethon which will bring all the old gang back together (they’ve all gone their separate ways since their last endeavor) to perform their old acts in the hopes that the public hasn’t forgotten them and will send in money to save their theater.


The script by star Jason Segel and his writing partner Nicholas Stoller brings out all of the best qualities of the Muppet characters (much of the film’s first hour involves Kermit and company rounding up the old gang taking them from Reno where Fozzie fronts a Muppet tribute group all the way to Paris where Miss Piggy has a new career as a fashion consultant for plus size women), but they’ve unwisely made everyone fully conscious in a wink-wink/nudge-nudge fashion that they’re in a movie with references to numbers they’ve just performed or speeding things along by using a montage sequence. It’s not a funny gimmick the first time they use it or the tenth time either, and it’s eventually dropped as the movie continues. As the show runs, the Muppets rightfully become the focal point relegating the live action stars thankfully to the wings as Muppet madness wins the day. The telethon in the hands of director James Bobin has touches of  “The Muppet Show” of old with Gonzo and his chickens performing “Forget You” and Animal beating the drums for all they’re worth while the kidnapped Jack Black as the required guest star has some amusing moments as he’s reluctantly worked into their shenanigans.


The loveliest musical sequence involves Kermit joined by his pals singing one of the most famous songs associated with them “The Rainbow Connection” in a tenderly nostalgic moment that also sadly points up the rather mediocre new songs written for the film. The opening “Life’s a Happy Song” is pretty and pleasant (would that Jason Segel were a better singer and dancer), but Kermit’s “Pictures in My Head” as he remembers his old buddies and “We Built This City” as the Muppets clean up their old digs are only of passing interest and are forgotten the moment they’re over. Worse are Amy Adams’ showcase number “A Me Party” and Chris Cooper’s “Explaining Evil” rap song, both better forgotten. Even the Oscar-winning “Man or Muppet” as Gary (with a Muppet alter ego) and Walter (with Jim Parsons as his human vis-à-vis) choose sides of loyalty doesn’t really impress much.


The film was a labor of love for Jason Segel, a longtime Muppet fanatic, and his enthusiasm and adoration of the characters are evident throughout. But his tentative love story with Amy Adams isn’t very interesting and seems an afterthought amid all of the Muppets’ high jinks. As with the previous Muppet movies, the film is littered with cameo appearances by famous faces from movies and television: Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Sarah Silverman, Emily Blunt, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Dave Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, John Krasinski, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey Rooney, Rashida Jones, and, of course, Jack Black who makes the most of his one-joke kidnapping. Chris Cooper’s villainy is appropriately cartoonish, but the real stars of the movie are the Muppet actors Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, and Peter Linz, all of whom service multiple characters. A note should be made that Eric Jacobson voices here the two characters made famous by Frank Oz: Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy excelling with the latter and only barely capturing the former.



Video Quality

5/5


The transfer has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. It’s a reference quality transfer in every way with color saturation superb, flesh tones on the humans (and Muppet tones on the puppets) realistic, and sharpness outstanding, so much so that the nap on the felt of the Muppets is clearly visible and individual strands of hair both real and synthetic are easily seen. Black levels are excellent due to the expert contrast levels which are maintained throughout. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.



Audio Quality

5/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix uses every available channel to expand the soundstage for optimum presentation. There are discrete sounds in the fronts and rears and panning sounds across and though the soundstage at various spots during the movie. The musical numbers take on a lively, immersive presence from their filtering through the soundfield. Dialogue has been expertly recorded and is usually found in the center channel though there are a few welcome examples of directionalized dialogue.



Special Features

4/5


The film’s audio commentary is provided by co-writer/star Jason Segel, his writing partner Nicholas Stoller, and director James Bobin. It’s basically a joke session as they taunt and tease and laugh with one another though there are anecdotes shared as the movie plays. Not really required listening but fans of the movie may find it interesting.


All of the video featurettes are presented in 1080p.


“Scratching the Surface: A Hasty Examination of the Making of Disney’s The Muppets is a 16-minute behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film guided by new Muppet monster J.G.


“The Longest Blooper Reel” is an 8 ½-minute combination of live action bloopers on the set and specially staged interviews with the actors and Muppets.


“Explaining Evil: The Full Tex Richman Song” is the full length version of Chris Cooper’s rap number in the movie. It runs 2 ¾ minutes.


“A Little Screen Test on the Way to the Read Through” is a funny short following the Muppets on their way to the table read of the script. It runs 3 ¼ minutes.


There are eight deleted scenes which may be viewed separately or in one 10-minute group.


There are seven movie spoof trailers for the movie satirizing everything from Rise of the Planet of the Apes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They may be viewed individually or in one 9-minute bunch.


Disney intermission occurs every time you put the movie on pause: a blackout sketch featuring one or more Muppets who entertain you until you bring the movie back up.


The disc offers promo trailers for Brave, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3, and Secret of the Wings.


The second disc in the set is the DVD version of the movie.


The third disc in the set is the combination digital copy of the movie/soundtrack album from the film. There are enclosed instructions on how the album can be downloaded.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


Not fully worthy of the magnificent puppet creatures who give the film its name, The Muppets is fun but can’t hold a candle to any of the gang’s first three feature films. Still, there is plenty here to entertain most members of the family, and with reference quality picture and sound and a collection of fun bonus features, you’ll likely find the disc at least worth a rental.




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 47 Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 15 2012 - 10:33 AM

Matt,


I thank you very much for this wonderful review.


I rarely buy new Blu-ray titles till they have come down in
price, but The Muppets is that rare exception.  Besides,
Amazon is selling it for under $23 so it was pretty much

a no-brainer to buy this.


Looking forward to receiving my copy.


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#3 of 47 jim_falconer

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Posted March 15 2012 - 11:57 AM

Thanks much for the review Matt.  Can't wait to pick this up...my absolute favorite movie of 2011



#4 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 01:20 PM

I actually liked this movie a lot more, and found it one of their best overall. Thanks for pointing out that the picture and sound quality will not disappoint... that "intermission" feature sounds like a hoot and a concept that maybe should give people ideas for more creative ways to author such discs. I think the most basic joke of the Muppets is that they are TOTALLY in on the joke. The Muppets have been self-referential, knowing they are puppets, being in a movie, etc. pretty much as long as they have existed. Remember Kermit stopping a scene to point out Piggy's overacting? When they presented an Academy Award many years ago, they got lots of knowing laughs from an audience wondering how Kermit and Fozzie would be able to open the envelope and "read" the winner's name. Fozzie kept looking down and pointing out "those guys down there" to Kermit, and how he could make those guys move around. When the envelope was handed to Fozzie by a real human, with a vaudevilian wink at the audience, he opened his hand wide, went "Oops!" and dropped it straight below him. The audience roared with laughter and applause. When Fozzie "picked it back up" it had opened - allowing him to easily "read" the winner. I haven't bought Muppets Treasure Island, or Wizard of Oz, or Muppets from Space because they didn't entertain me nearly as much as this one. I found it better in that it was the most full-out laugh-out-loud comedy. Setups, sight gags and comic timing all first rate. There is a really funny spoof of the earnest happy small town opening number. Enough stuff for all ages to find and find more on repeat viewings. Also better is that the star cameos didn't stop the show like they did in the original movies, here they're all pretty much tossed-off matter-of-factly, especially the kid from Modern Family - Kermit's reaction to him was priceless. I think Muppets interacting with celebrities is just part of their running gags. When Julie Andrews sang The Lonely Goatherd on the TV show, they cut away to Rowlf, who said "I saw the picture twice." Granted the songs are not up with Paul William's heartfelt best, I wasn't thrilled with Chris Cooper's role, and I wouldn't have had Fozzie actually say the F-word, but we can forgive a couple hairlines being crossed when we remember that the Muppets were created for adults, their kid/family appeal came many years after they were established, and they have always been deliberately subversive. The fact that they had Camilla and the Chickens do Cee-Lo's um, "Cluck You" - had the young people around me howling with laughter - and I (not following today's music) had to go look up why. Which is fine, because they were entertaining at all levels. As for the voices, well it was a long adjustment period for me when Kermit had a voice that sounded less like Jim Henson than several people I've met who were just goofing around mimicking voices, but I read that the Henson family chose Whitmire themselves, and he has grown into the role. Henson is not the only original voice that is no longer with us, so some adjustment is to be expected. Eric Jacobson has done a good job of seamlessly replacing Frank Oz, enough to fool Muppet vet Dave Goelz at a read-through. It was a tough task trying to get all the memorable Muppet characters in, I do wonder what happened to Bean Bunny and Rizzo, though. It's an added kick for me, being a Hollywood resident, to see so many deliberately familiar locations including the backlots. I often pass the Chaplin Studios on the way to get groceries, and saw the front dressed up as Muppet Studios, I've eaten in Mel's Diner where Amy sings, and been to Pink's. We've seen Gonzo's factory building as the Ojai Foods family business on Brothers and Sisters, and the small town square is one of the most famous backlots of all, from The Music Man and The Waltons to a Hallmark Christmas movie and Gilmore Girls. After watching the big finale outside the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard, I came out of the El Capitan theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, ready to buy the BluRay then and there.

#5 of 47 Matt Hough

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Posted March 15 2012 - 02:18 PM

I made special mention of Eric Jacobson for one reason: Frank Oz was asked to participate in the film but after reading the script, he declined saying he found the script demeaning to the Muppets. I didn't bother mentioning the others who have assumed characters once voiced by those who have passed on since those substitutions couldn't be helped.



#6 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 02:40 PM

Yeah I read about Frank, he seems to have backpedaled a bit since that decision, and this isn't the first time he has sat out a Muppet project. Unlike the other performers, as you know, Frank has been primarily a director for decades. I went into this totally wary of some of the Muppet performers supposedly being less than thrilled with the script, but was won over right away. Since it was finished and released I haven't read much from the Muppet veterans that said they were so unhappy with the result. I get that the longer our memories are, the higher the expectations and more potential for disappointment we bring to the movie. I just wish you had enjoyed it more. Even with some reservations, I had such a good time. Instead of having Fozzie actually say the "F--t" word... I don't think the Muppets have actually gotten crass, but Fozzie established a fondness for whoopee cushions some time ago. I might have had him mention his whoopee cushion, say he found new whoopee shoes, then cut to his feet, wearing a variation of fuzzy bedroom slippers that look like Whoopi Goldberg. Wocka-wocka! That seems a more muppety joke to me. Remember when Kermit hosted the Tonight show? Anyone want to post their favorite moments from the movie that made them laugh out loud? We can do this without spoiler details. e.g.: The first moment we see Kermit, what we hear, and what we see next. I laughed out loud and kept chuckling into the next scene. PS: if you like the Muppets, check out BEING ELMO now streaming on Netflix. You'll laugh, You'll cry, and you'll never look at a fuzzy coat lining the same way again.

#7 of 47 Jason_V

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Posted March 15 2012 - 05:09 PM



Originally Posted by NY2LA 


Anyone want to post their favorite moments from the movie that made them laugh out loud? We can do this without spoiler details.
 



"Man or Muppet" had me both laughing and crying in the theater.  Partly because I did not expect to see Sheldon Cooper (!) in the movie and partly because the song is about a kid not knowing what/who he is.  That's the part I could identify with, which brings it very close to my heart.


I adored The Muppets last year.  Ironically, I didn't grow up watching the show or being in love with the movies.  I'm a little too young for that.  However, my partner-who is old enough to have watched in first one-like the movie, but wasn't over the moon about it.


There's no doubt I'm picking this up next week.  Even if I have to watch it alone and get made fun of when people I have over see it's on the shelf.



#8 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 08:52 PM

It's been a long wocka back. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

#9 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 08:54 PM

They honk their own horn. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ They eat their own drum. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

#10 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 09:13 PM

They've kissed a lot of frogs. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ Taught new tricks to an an old dog. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

#11 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 09:20 PM

with a crooked snout http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ They might chicken out. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

#12 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 09:51 PM

With a hand in Greenfleece. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ And a bovine divine. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

#13 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 10:19 PM

Their smiles are felt hearts. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ and heart felt. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ THE MUPPETS Bring home the warm and Fozzie.

#14 of 47 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted March 15 2012 - 10:32 PM


Originally Posted by MattH. 

I made special mention of Eric Jacobson for one reason: Frank Oz was asked to participate in the film but after reading the script, he declined saying he found the script demeaning to the Muppets. I didn't bother mentioning the others who have assumed characters once voiced by those who have passed on since those substitutions couldn't be helped.



If only his standards had been so high in the past, we would have been spared the Oz-directed "The Muppets Take Manhattan".  I personally think this is the best Muppet film since "The Great Muppet Caper" by a wide margin.


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#15 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 10:34 PM

"Man or Muppet" had me both laughing and crying in the theater.  Partly because I did not expect to see Sheldon Cooper (!) in the movie and partly because the song is about a kid not knowing what/who he is.  That's the part I could identify with, which brings it very close to my heart.

Ah yes that moment got a huge laugh in the theatre, but I'm not sure if they were reacting to an actor with a perfect face to match that muppet, or the character they know from TV.

I adored The Muppets last year... There's no doubt I'm picking this up next week.  Even if I have to watch it alone and get made fun of when people I have over see it's on the shelf.

I am so looking forward to this (and SO in need of some light fun) I'm considering maybe cancelling my Amazon order and running out to get it the day it comes out. Both Best Buy and Target have exclusive added content and both stores are just a little shlep down LaBrea from me... right past The Jim Henson Studios that we see in the movie. Be Proud of your Muppet affinity, If your friends don't appreciate it, you don't have the right friends! http://themuppetmind...blu-raydvd.html

#16 of 47 Sam Favate

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Posted March 15 2012 - 11:28 PM

We enjoyed this with our kids last fall in the theater. I'd hope that the success of the blu-ray/DVD would prompt the release of the final two seasons of the Muppet Show.





#17 of 47 NY2LA

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Posted March 15 2012 - 11:34 PM

If only his standards had been so high in the past, we would have been spared the Oz-directed "The Muppets Take Manhattan".  I personally think this is the best Muppet film since "The Great Muppet Caper" by a wide margin.

Actually I kinda liked Muppets Take Manhattan. Nice songs, funny lines... It's the ones after it that I don't care for. (except I like Muppet Christmas Carol) I still think this one is the funniest.

#18 of 47 mattCR

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Posted March 15 2012 - 11:44 PM



Originally Posted by MattH. 

I made special mention of Eric Jacobson for one reason: Frank Oz was asked to participate in the film but after reading the script, he declined saying he found the script demeaning to the Muppets. I didn't bother mentioning the others who have assumed characters once voiced by those who have passed on since those substitutions couldn't be helped.


It should be noted Oz later changed his mind, having said this after the first draft.


That having been said, to me,, outside of the first film, this is the best of the Muppets (IMHO)



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#19 of 47 Matt Hough

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Posted March 16 2012 - 12:10 AM

I also loved The Muppets Take Manhattan so there you go. Horse racing.



#20 of 47 TravisR

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Posted March 16 2012 - 01:01 AM

I adored The Muppets last year.  Ironically, I didn't grow up watching the show or being in love with the movies.

I was pretty young but I watched The Muppets movies and TV show when I was a kid. I haven't really had any interest in revisiting them (probably because I've seen too many things from childhood that don't live up to my memories) but I loved this movie too. It's funny, it's sweet and I'd recommend it to basically anyone.