Ryan Dosier – With the major success of 2011’s The Muppets both in theaters and in home entertainment release, it should come as a surprise to no one that Disney is re-releasing the other Muppet movies on Blu-ray. Disney’s expertise lies in using new home entertainment formats to preserve its franchises, so it’s nice to see the Muppets get the Blu-ray treatment too. We saw it first with The Muppet Christmas Carol last fall and now The Muppet Movie is finally releasing in high definition glory. I was extremely lucky to receive a copy of the Blu-ray early from Disney, and I’m happy to say that it is a very worthwhile release.
I’m going to carry on in this review assuming that everyone reading knows the story of the very first Muppet movie. Everyone knows how Kermit sang “Rainbow Connection” and set out from humble swamp beginnings to become a movie star in Hollywood. Along the way, Kermit befriends Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great, the Electric Mayhem, Rowlf the Dog, Scooter, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, and the divine Miss Piggy and sweeps them all into his dream. Along the way there is laughter and singing and loving galore. If you’ve never seen The Muppet Movie… well, you’re crazy and you should amend that immediately.
The Muppet Movie possesses some really gorgeous visuals on the new high definition transfer. Just like every other Muppet movie Blu-ray, the colors here are simply astounding. Kermit’s green shines, the Electric Mayhem radiates neon beauty, and the entire movie looks like it was crisply fine tuned to perfection. The most spectacular sequences in The Muppet Movie are even more spectacular on Blu-ray. The “Rainbow Connection” moment is especially gorgeous, as is the beautiful scenery shown during “Movin’ Right Along” and “America.” The Blu-ray transfer is wonderful and a magnificent step-up in visual quality. The sound is also amped up a notch for high definition. I noticed some little dialogue asides that I had never heard in my countless viewings, so I think that’s saying something.
The bonus features for the release are quite good, but there could have (and arguably should have) been so much more. As with the Blu-ray releases of The Muppets and The Muppet Christmas Carol, once again, the Disney Intermission feature is present. When you pause the movie, the Muppets do things to keep you entertained. In this case, the new “Frog-E-Oke” feature plays on a loop. Which brings me to “Frog-E-Oke,” which at first I disliked, but after awhile I enjoyed. The feature is basically just animated, repurposed music videos for “Rainbow Connection,” “Movin’ Right Along,” and “Can You Picture That?” The effort the graphics and design team put into these videos is great, but no new Muppet material was shot. It would have been nice to see some new stuff, but the feature is decent.
The other bonus features are not new, but they are excellent. My favorite by far is the Jim Frawley Camera Tests, first seen on the first DVD release of The Muppet Movie. If you haven’t seen these infamous camera tests, they are hysterical, 100% ad-libbed bits with Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and Sweetums out about London to see how the puppets look in the real world. Jim Henson and Frank Oz are bafflingly funny in these bits and I was laughing like a fool for 14 whole minutes. Another awesome (albeit short) feature is Doc Hopper’s Commercial, which is the original footage from the commercial Doc Hopper shows Kermit and Fozzie. It’s hilarious, charming, and a beautiful tribute to the late Charles Durning. The final feature is the “Pepe Profiles” piece spotlighting Kermit that was new on the 2005 DVD release. It’s still funny, but not nearly as funny or sharp as the Muppets are eight years later.
Overall, the bonus features are fun and Muppety, plus there is a new, moving menu on the Blu-ray home screen with foam cut-out Muppets. It’s pretty adorable and well done. But there are some huge missed opportunities on the bonus feature side. Audio commentary with Jim Frawley, Dave Goelz, Frank Oz, and Steve Whitmire would have been incredible. Or even commentary from some of the Muppets would have been nice. However, the biggest oversight is the lack of The Muppets Go Hollywood TV special made to promote the movie. There is no better place to release this special than alongside The Muppet Movie, and it’s a major shame that it is not included.
But on the whole, The Muppet Movie Blu-ray is well worth your time. The release is only $20 (currently), which is more than fair for spectacular high definition transfer of the Muppets’ greatest film. The bonus features could have been more impressive (although I say that about every Muppet release), but what is here is wonderful. Owning the Jim Frawley Camera Tests is yet another reason to buy this release. You won’t want to miss your opportunity to own The Muppet Movie in high definition!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org