BLU-RAY REVIEW: Disney's The Muppet Movie - The Original Classic
The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition Hits Hi-Def...
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In its five seasons and 120 episodes on the air, The Muppet Show introduced TV viewers to an exceptional variety of characters and creatures, designs and dances, music and mayhem the likes of which TV viewers would never again be found on the small screen again. Vaudeville in nature, accessible to all, and with guest stars a plenty, the fan-favorite Muppets led the charge in the late 1970s by introducing small screen fans to a new style and type of humor and entertainment. Of course, those that enjoyed the TV series from the comfort of their own homes were being asked to spend money to buy a ticket so, when The Muppet Movie was originally released in 1979, it was unknown how audiences would react. Of course now after three decades and nine successful feature length films made, The Muppet Movie seems right.
So it's also only right Disney release the original The Muppet Movie in all of its classic glory to Blu-ray hi-def. Starring everyone's favorite banjo-playing swamp dweller - Kermit the Frog - in a tale of discovery, adventure, music and friendship, The Muppet Movie includes some of the most beloved characters singing some of the most magical musical numbers in film history. Now, looking back, it's no wonder the film was a success. With a built-in audience of regular TV viewers and featuring the beautifully creative puppetry featured on the The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie stands out as a one of the most adored films of the 1970s...and for good reason.
The film's story follows the quest for the Muppets to make it big in Hollywood and what a trip it would be. Nothing in Hollywood is easy and the rise to the top for Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and the rest of the Muppets of course wasn't either. From avoiding restauranteur Doc Hopper (Charles Durning) and finding a set of rusty, trusty wheels for the trip west to escaping an evil mad scientist (Mel Brooks) and proving their worth to studio exec Lew Lord (Orson Welles), the Muppets' rise to stardom is filled with twists, turns, danger and despair...not to mention support and friendship from one another. And, while the The Muppet Movie is, like the show, filled with cameos by a variety of Hollywood's favorites including Bob Hope, Carol Kane, Madeline Kahn, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Paul Williams and Cloris Leachman to name a few, the real message of the film isn't so much that one can overcoming any obstacles thrown in your way but that, together, anything and everything is possible. After all, the film's most important lesson is the fact that none of the Muppets are ever alone again.
At nearly 35 years old, the audio and video show their age. Remastered, both are better than expected all things considered. The video features colors which are bright and bold, each showing the individual textures of Muppets well. The grainy look to the film is still present, though not nearly as prevalent as previous DVD releases. Likewise, there is some softness and even blurrieness to some scenes though, overall, the positives far outweighs the negatives when it comes to this new video copy. Sadly, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track doesn't impress as much as the video. While the musical numbers gratefully feature some rear speaker dynamics, a majority of the film is front-heavy. Though one couldn't expect much less from a film originally made over 30 years ago. Overall, audio is clear, with dialogue easy to hear most of the time.
As for bonus material, the disc does feature some interesting extras, including the "Jim Frawley's Extended Camera Test," 18-minutes of test reel made by director Jim Frawley in 1978; the 9-minute "Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along," which has viewers singing along with Kermit to "Rainbow Connection;" the 7-minute "Pepe Profiles Present Kermit: A Frog's Life," which shows Pepe the Prawn's focus on the life and times of Kermit the Frog; the 1-minute "Doc Hopper's Commercial" for the character's restaurant, the film's original trailers and a cool "Disney Intermission" feature which allows viewers to enjoy a few songs when the feature film is paused.
With no less than 250 different Muppets featured throughout The Muppet Movie, a majority of which are shown in the film's final musical number, this is one for the ages. For those die-hard fans who are looking to own The Muppets Movie at its best, look no further. This Blu-ray release features the film as good as it's ever been. And with a solid video transfer, a good soundtrack and a decent amount of bonus features, Disney's The Muppet Movie - The Original Classic is one well worth owning. While no doubt some younger audience members may look at this and frown to the show's age, the characters, humor and message are timeless.
Disney's The Muppet Movie - The Original Classic is avaiable on Blu-ray now wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley