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Recommended
3.5 stars
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Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
1 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

The Muppet Movie: The Original Classic – The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition

Street Date:
August 13th, 2013
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 20th, 2013
Movie Release Year:
1979
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
96 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

There's an effortless comedic charm in the original 'Muppet Movie' that makes it such a joy to watch. Whether it's Kermit (Jim Henson) not-so-subtly pointing out the movie's running Hare Kirshna gag, or Steve Martin in mid-thigh shorts, 'The Muppet Movie' masters the simplest comedy. This kind of jokey humor was lost in such 'Muppet' entries as 'Muppets from Space' and to a lesser extent 'Muppet Treasure Island.' 'The Muppet' movie feels more like a conglomeration of related 'SNL' skits involving famous comedians and hilarious Muppets. There's a road trip subplot thrown in for good measure, but who needs it? In the end we remember the lovable oddball wackiness.

The '70s and '80s certainly embraced this type of humor. There's a simplicity to the movie's humor that's endearing and ages extremely well (except the Hare Kirshna jokes, which while funny, aren't nearly as pop culture-y as they were back then). There's something about seeing Fozzie (Frank Oz) bomb his stand-up set that's universally hilarious. Partly because all of us understand that Fozzie is destined to be terrible at his dream, but also because it never gets old.

I remember watching 'The Muppet Movie' numerous times as a kid. I enjoyed 'The Muppets' TV show and had already grown extremely fond of the characters. Looking back on my early 'Muppet' indoctrination, I remember my parents laughing just as much when they watched it. They weren't necessarily laughing at the same parts; there was something for everyone. Sort of like early Pixar before early Pixar.

The movie's plot, which is just there to house the numerous jokes and gags, is basically an origin story. How did the Muppets find each other? How did they form their felt-covered roadshow? It all starts with a frog, with a guitar, in a swamp, singing about rainbows. After being discovered by a Hollywood agent (Dom DeLuise) Kermit heads off on a road trip to find his way to glittering fame. Along the way he's pursued by dastardly restaurant owner Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), owner of the biggest deep fried frog legs restaurant around. Kermit soon meets up with a bunch of familiar Muppet faces. His romance with Miss Piggy (Oz) sees its tenuous beginnings. It's all the usual stuff, but this is the original movie, so it wasn't exactly usual then.

Perhaps my favorite part of the movie is its self-awareness. At the beginning the whole lot of Muppets gather in a small studio screening room to see the movie they've made about themselves. Watching them all interact in that tiny space just goes to show the attention to detail that was paid by Henson and his crew. There must be two dozen Muppets in that one scene. Each of them is doing something uniquely fitting to their character. At times it feels like chaos. It's supposed to look like that anyway, but in reality the amount of puppeteering cooperation that went into those scenes is astounding.

'The Muppet Movie' will always hold a special place in my Muppet-loving heart. As much as I loved the newest revision of 'The Muppets,' as thought up by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, I still adore their beginnings. Since Muppets don't age, we've been able to watch these beloved characters transcend time and constantly evolving pop culture. They've stayed relevant and have managed to gain new fans while retaining their old ones. That the original 'Muppet Movie' is still humorous is a testament to the staying power of Kermit and the gang. Here's to another (nearly) 35 years.

Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This Disney release comes in what's been dubbed The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition. The movie is housed on a 50GB Blu-ray Disc. There's also a DVD and Digital Copy provided. Inside the case is a code for Disney Movie Rewards. The release comes with a standard Disney embossed slipcover. It's a region free release.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

It's apparent that the movie is old. That's not to say the high-def transfer is bad, but it's noticeably aged. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. That's part of the movie's charm. It has that gauzy '70s look without the blurring. There are some soft shots, yes, – for example the close-up zoom of Kermit in the beginning – but, more often than not, 'The Muppet Movie' shines with a detailed, clean transfer that will give fans something to cheer about.

One thing that videophiles may notice is that while grainy, this Blu-ray version of 'The Muppet Movie' has a smoother grain finish. The grain has been noticeably toned down. This may strike the ire of some, though I don't think there's much to worry about here. I didn't notice any messy instances of DNR. The grain has a more even feel, although it never appears to be artificial. It still feels satisfyingly cinematic in every sense.

Detail hasn't been lost. The felt, fur, and hair all have a tangible texture look to them. Fozzie's fur looks as lifelike as it ever has. One can pick out the individual strands of Miss Piggy's illustrious hair. Skin tones for the famous cameos are expertly natural. Aliasing, banding, and blocking are all kept out. Some crushing is exhibited during the film's darker scenes. Some shadows are somewhat depthless at times. That said, as far as 'The Muppet Movie's video presentation is concerned, it's mostly good. Fans will likely be pleased.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The aging is a little more obvious with the audio presentation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix has an overall hollowness to it. It isn't overly troublesome, though sometimes it does sound like you're listening to a muffled version of the movie. Maybe if 'The Muppet Movie' was given the same 7.1 Diamond Edition treatment as some of Disney's top-shelf animated titles, we'd be given a newly restored and renovated audio mix. As it is now, the soundtrack is pleasingly serviceable. It probably could've been more, but this will do.

Sometimes dialogue gets lost in the kerfuffle of sound effects; and there are other times when the dialogue is as clear as anything else. Directionality and prioritization are a hit-and-miss affair. Kermit's opening song sounds a little too stifled for its own good. Rear channels have a light ambience to them. The best rear channel interaction can be heard in the screening room as the variety of Muppets go bonkers before the movie starts (however, that's also the part where sound effects and voices tend to drown out the primary dialogue).

It would've been nice to get an audio overhaul here. As it stands 'The Muppet Movie' has a decent audio mix, nothing more.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Jim Frawley's Extended Camera Test (HD, 18 min.) – A pre-production footage reel, shot by director James Frawley, which helped give the filmmakers an idea of how they were actually going to shoot the Muppets.
  • Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along (HD, 9 min.) – A sing-a-long to the movie's famous tunes: "Rainbow Connection," "Movin' Right Along," and "Can You Picture That."
  • Pepe Profiles Present Kermit: A Frog's Life (SD, 7 min.) – Pepe the loveable little prawn takes us on a humorous look back at the early career of one Kermit the Frog.
  • Doc Hopper's Commercial (HD, 1 min.) – The full restaurant promo that's shown in the movie.
  • Trailers (HD, 6 min.) – The movie's original trailers are included.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Disney Intermission (HD) – We saw a version of this feature on the 'Wreck-it Ralph' Blu-ray. If you pause the movie you'll get to hear some of the movie's songs, accompanied by their lyrics.

Final Thoughts

Nearly 35 years since its release, 'The Muppet Movie' still makes us laugh. Not too many franchises have the staying power of The Muppets. One wonders what the franchise would look like now had 'The Muppet Movie' bombed. Thankfully, we'll never have to know. The TV show gave us a great movie, which spawned a whole line of films (some better than others). Over time, and with the immense promotional help of Disney, the Muppets have been able to garner supreme success. This Blu-ray is a great addition to any fan's collection. The video presentation is faithful to its source, while sprucing it up a bit. The audio could've used some tweaks here and there though. Overall, 'The Muppet Movie' comes recommended for anyone who likes to laugh.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/Digital Copy
  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • German: Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, French, Spanish, German, and German SDH

Supplements

  • All-New Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along
  • Kermit: A Frog's Life
  • Jim Frawley's Extended Camera (includes previously unseen footage)
  • Pepe Profiles - "Kermit: A Frog's Life" Featurette
  • Doc Hooper's Commercial
  • Original Trailers

Exclusive HD Content

  • Disney Intermission, Starring the Muppets

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