The Muppets (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by James Bobin
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec Running Time: 103 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English, French; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 49.99
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Review Date: March 15, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.