Blu-ray
Recommended
4 stars
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$26.50
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Overall Grade
4 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
3.5 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
2 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

The Muppet Christmas Carol: 20th Anniversary Edition

Street Date:
November 6th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
November 13th, 2012
Movie Release Year:
1992
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
89 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Back in March, I ranked the 'Muppet' movies for High-Def Digest in preparation for the Blu-ray release of 'The Muppets.' On that list 'The Muppets Christmas Carol' came in at number three. Some may argue that it's better than 'The Great Muppet Caper' and I wouldn't really put up much of a fight. Truthfully, the top three Muppet movies are extremely close to each other in terms of quality. It's just great to see one of the best Muppet films finally get the Blu-ray release it's needed.

The legend himself, Jim Henson, had passed away just two years earlier. This was the first major Muppet film to not feature Henson as the voice of the equally iconic Kermit the Frog. That responsibility fell to Steve Whitmire. Without Henson to steer the ship this production could've easily gone off course. However, Jim's son Brian took the reins, along with the help of long-time 'Muppets' writer Jerry Juhl, to create a wholly memorable, completely Muppet production. Not only is the movie a great adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story, it's also a love letter to Jim. By creating a clever, emotional Muppet movie, Brian Henson and company were able to see that Jim's legacy continued on.

There have been countless adaptations of "A Christmas Carol." It was only a matter of time until the Muppets franchise put their spin on the tale. By casting Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge they were able to nail down the most crucial aspect of the movie. Caine doesn't treat his part lightly. Even though he's acting in a movie surrounded by felt-covered co-stars, Caine is still able to deliver a poignant, emotional performance as the miserly old man. You go in thinking you're in for a light-hearted Muppet-style romp with off-hand jokes and catchy songs. Then you run into Caine's performance and it's utterly surprising given the surroundings. He doesn't play the part like he's in a Muppet movie. He plays the part like he's really trying to understand the crux of Dickens' most famous character. It's really quite something.

As it is a Muppet movie, the humor is plentiful. Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat narrate the tale and are constantly stealing the scenes they are in with traditional Muppet hilarity. The songs are some of the best that the Muppets have to offer. The sheer scale of the puppetry in this movie is only rivaled by the recently released 'The Muppets.' Some of the scenes you have to wonder how they were able to fit so many puppeteers on set.


What all of this adds up to is a clever, hilarious, yet tremendously touching adaption of "A Christmas Carol." An adaption that accurately depicts the heartfelt Christmas spirit embedded into the story. With Caine's all-in performance as Scrooge the movie lifts itself to another level. A level that's unexpected given that the movie would've been a success had it been somewhat funny with a few good songs included. The fact that it's actually moving in a way that only the most dramatic adaptions of the story are, makes it that much better.

Losing Jim Henson wasn't easy at all. An entertainment and cultural icon was gone. The franchise that he had created was now left in the hands of those he trusted. When all was said and done, Brian Henson and his crew were able to create a movie that I have no doubt Jim would've loved. In all probability the finished product here most likely came close to mirroring what he would've done had he still been around to make it. 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' should be a holiday season staple in homes across America.


The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This is a Disney release. Because Disney feels like giving a special name to any anniversary release (this is the 20th anniversary release) they've called it the "It's Not Easy Being Scrooge Special Edition." Inside is a 50GB Blu-ray Disc and a disc for a Digital Copy. There is a code provided for Disney Movie Rewards. The release comes with an embossed slipcover that features the same artwork as the case. Finally, the disc is region free.


The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Disney has had great success with its catalog titles and this one follows along those same lines. The 1080p transfer of 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' is much stronger and much more detailed than any of the previous DVD releases. Colors are much bolder, while detail is all the more crisp. Disney has shown care bringing this title to Blu-ray.

The detail in the movie looks tremendous. The textures of the felt and fur of the varied assortment of Muppets is almost tangible. The tiniest bits of fuzz can be seen on Gonzo's nose. The smallest clump of felt is visible, creating a lifelike image of the Muppets involved.

On the live actor front, skin tones are wonderfully natural. The beginning of the movie has a bluish twinge to it which gives skin a duller look. However, as the movie continues the visuals get a warmer hue, creating naturalistic skin tones. Detail on Caine's face is top-notch for an early90s catalog title. Age lines and wrinkles can easily be seen. Individual hairs are clearly defined.

On the live actor front, skin tones are wonderfully natural. The beginning of the movie has a bluish twinge to it which gives skin a duller look. However, as the movie continues the visuals get a warmer hue, creating naturalistic skin tones. Detail on Caine's face is top-notch for an early90s catalog title. Age lines and wrinkles can easily be seen. Individual hairs are clearly defined.


The Audio: Rating the Sound

'The Muppets Christmas Carol' has been given a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix which is a decent effort, but leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to creating a wholly encompassing audio environment.

Dialogue and music lyrics are presented clearly up front. The musical soundtrack has a hard time finding its way into the rear speakers, along with much of the movie's ambient noise. Even the big flourishing song and dance numbers are decidedly front and center. The rear speakers are underused for much of the movie. LFE is produced at a decent volume, especially during the last third of the movie spent with the ominous Ghost of Christmas Future. However, without a more engaging ambient presence this audio mix falls a little flat.


The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary - There are two audio commentaries provided, one is a Blu-ray exclusive (see below). This commentary was produced for the 2005 DVD release. Director Brian Henson is the lone commentator here. He dispenses a ton of information on what it was like making the film, the evolution of the script, shooting certain scenes, and what it's like adapting Dickens' tale.
  • Holiday Intermission Songs (HD, 7 min.) - If you pause the film at any time a Christmas song will play as sung by one of the Muppets.
  • Frogs, Pigs and Humbug: Unwrapping a New Holiday Classic (SD, 22 min.) - A making-of featurette that has interviews of cast and crew talking about what it was like working on the movie.
  • Gonzo: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo (SD, 5 min.) - Pepe the Prawn hosts a look at Gonzo's life.
  • Christmas Around the World (SD, 3 min.) - Rizzo and Gonzo discuss different traditions from around the world in relation to Christmas.
  • Blooper Reel (SD, 3 min.) - I'm usually against blooper reels, but when they feature the Muppets I'll make an exception.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Audio Commentary - The first is a brand-new commentary featuring the Muppets as they comment on the movie. Kermit, Gonzo, Rizzo, and others chime in as the movie rolls along. I actually enjoyed this commentary even though it feels a little stale at times (Kermit actually makes a joke about this, that they talk so long that it becomes dry at times). I'm always in the mood for a gimmicky commentary if the Muppets are involved. It feels like a RiffTrax kind of commentary. It's really fun.

Final Thoughts

It's fantastic to finally have 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' on Blu-ray. It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years since it was produced. Even then, Jim Henson's son Brian was able to put together a wonderfully funny and emotional film in the wake of his father's passing. With great video and decent audio, this one should definitely be added to your collection so you can watch it every year during the holiday season. Recommended.

Technical Specs

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

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, and Spanish

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary from Brian Henson
  • Disney Intermission: Press “Pause” and see what happens when the Muppets Show up at your door to sing your Christmas Carols – Muppet Style!
  • Muppet Holiday Sing-Along
  • Blooper Reel
  • Frogs, Pigs, and Humbug: A Behind the Scenes Look
  • Christmas Around the World with Gonzo and Rizzo
  • Pepe’s Profiles Presents: Gonzo, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo

Exclusive HD Content

  • Muppet Audio Commentary: All New Audio Commentary from your favorite Muppets – Kermit, Gonzo, Rizzo, and More!

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$26.50
Amazon
$16.88 (36%)
3rd Party
$12.69
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»