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THE MUPPETS ($50) marks a very welcome return to the silver screen by the classic puppet characters created by Jim Henson, who have been sadly absent from the cinema for about a dozen years. As far as this reviewer is concerned, THE MUPPETS is one of the best live action family films that has come down the pike in a long time, thus proving that this felt, foam and fur franchise still has a whole lot of life left in it. The most surprising aspect to the return of The Muppets to cinemas is the fact that the movie wasn’t the brainchild of the studio, but that of a couple of well-connected fans. Actor Jason Segel and writer Nicholas Stoller pitched the idea of a new Muppet movie to the studio, which resulted in a development deal… and the rest, they say, is history. Of course, one can tell right away from THE MUPPETS is how much Segel and Stoller loved the characters, and how they stayed true to them by fashioning an old school, good time musical comedy around them in the vein of their earlier outings.

The plot of THE MUPPETS finds the very Muppet like Walter growing up with his brother Gary (Jason Segel) in Smalltown, where the two watched THE MUPPET SHOW and became fans. Of course, Walter’s special affinity for The Muppets finds him tagging along on a trip to Los Angeles with Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), who are celebrating their tenth anniversary. While Gary and Mary want a romantic holiday in Los Angeles, Walter wants to visit tour the Muppet Studios, which they discover in severe disrepair since The Muppets have all gone their separate ways. Upon sneaking into Kermit the Frog's office, Walter overhears a plot by oil magnate Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to tear down the Muppet Theater and drill for oil underneath. Of course, there is one loophole in Richman’s plot- if The Muppets can raise ten million dollars, they can repurchase the theater. This leads Walter, Gary and Mary to seek out Kermit the Frog to apprise him of Richman’s dastardly plot. As quick as you can say let’s put on a show… Kermit and his new friends are on a road trip to track down the other Muppets, which is followed by a telethon to raise the necessary money to save the Muppet Theater from the evil oilman. THE MUPPETS features cameos from Alan Arkin, Emily Blunt, James Carville, Bill Cobbs, Sterling Knight, Feist, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Dave Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, Ken Jeong, John Krasinski, Bret McKenzie, Jim Parsons, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey Rooney, Kristen Schaal, Sarah Silverman and Jack Black. Muppet performers include Peter Linz, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, Tyler Bunch and Alice Dinnean.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made THE MUPPETS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Shot digitally with Red cameras, THE MUPPETS features a superb 1080p presentation that just smacks of all the best qualities of digital cinematography. As you might expect, THE MUPPETS features an incredibly crisp, highly defined image that is also bright, colorful and wonderfully dimensional. Levels of fine detail and texturing go well beyond ample… it is all just that picture perfect on Blu-ray. Colors are vibrant, highly saturated and ready to pop off the screen. In addition, flesh tones are always very attractive. Blacks are pure, as are the whites, plus contrast is very smooth. Shadow detail is impeccable, although this type of musical comedy isn’t particularly challenging in that arena. As this is an all-digital production, the elements from which THE MUPPETS has been mastered are free from imperfections. Being all-digital, there is no actual film grain, and even digital noise manages to stay out of the picture.

THE MUPPETS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. THE MUPPETS comes with a highly effective sound design that is beautifully rendered in its full, lossless glory. The sound design isn’t of the action movie overkill ilk, but THE MUPPETS has a broad, lively comedic soundstage that makes excellent use of all the outlying channels. Effects are precise, and pan through the channels cleanly and effortlessly. Sure, talky passages can lack a little pizzazz, but almost all the time there is something going on that brings the track back to engaging, enveloping life. As THE MUPPETS is a musical (or a comedy with musical numbers), the lossless encoding is amped up to deliver all songs with warmth, dimensionality and complete musicality. Sound effects are also well served, coming across with a great deal of punch, thanks to a very solid bass channel. Speaking voices are warmly recorded and dialogue is easy to understand. A French 5.1 DTS-HD High Resolution soundtrack, plus a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel is also encoded onto the disc, as is an English Descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with executive producer/co-writer/actor Jason Segel, executive producer/co-writer Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin. Next up is Scratching The Surface, a sixteen-minute look at the making of THE MUPPETS. Explaining Evil: The Full Tex Richman Song is an expanded version of the Chris Cooper number from the movie. A Little Screen Test On The Way To The Read-Through offers another tree minutes of Muppet shenanigans. The Longest Blooper Reel Ever, At Least In Muppet History... We Think provides nine minutes of amusing flubs. Ten minutes of Deleted Scenes are also provided, as are nine minutes of Theatrical Spoof Trailers featuring our favorite characters. Also provided in the package is a download code to the Full-Length Original Soundtrack. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are still on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, while disc three provides a Digital Copy of the film.

THE MUPPETS marks a very welcome cinematic return of these classic characters, which I hope to see up on the silver screen again sometime very soon. The Blu-ray presentation is demo worthy. Highly recommended.


The Muppets (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy + Soundtrack Download Card) (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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