The Film (4/5)
It took a few decades of TV appearances, before the Muppets even got their own TV show, however with the wild success of the Muppet Show it was inevitable that Jim Henson's most timeless and popular creations would make the transition to the cinema screen, and in 1979 they finally did with the eponymous The Muppet Movie. It seems like every fictitious pop-culture creation needs an origin story, and The Muppet Movie, for those who were curious, filled viewers at the time with the backstory of those singing, dancing, comedian Muppets who took over their TV on a weekly basis.
The film follows Kermit the Frog, who is discovered by a Hollywood agent as he sings alone in his swamp, strumming a banjo (the now famous Rainbow Connection). The agent played by Dom DeLouise tells him that he has talent, and should go to Hollywood. That is exactly what Kermit does, the only way he knows how, by bike. Of course, the bike doesn't last long, and he soon meets up with Fozzy Bear in a sleazy southern night club. The two join forces, and begin driving across the country meeting other Muppets along the way, as they plan to take over Hollywood with their developing act.
I've always taken a certain perspective on the Muppet Movie, The Muppet Show, and the films that followed, and it is this. The Muppet Movie details the origins of the Muppets, everything else is what they made upon reaching Hollywood at the films conclusion with the exception of the recently released The Muppets.
The film holds up quite well for it's age. Some of the comedy has aged, and the cameos in the film might be more familiar to the parents and grandparents watching now then modern children viewing the film for the first time, but all in all the film still works as both as a Muppet origin tale, and as a simple tale of a group of friends determined to come together to make it big against all odds. The music in the film is timeless, classic, and memorable, and the story is simple enough to work for viewers of nearly all ages.
Having rewatched the Muppet Movie on DVD within the last few years, I will state right up fron that Disney's 1:85:1 mpeg4 encoded 1080p transfer is a step up in every possible way from the prior released editions of the film. It maintains a solid grain structure, although there has been some minor de-graining done to the film, but not enough to remove any detail from the image, and done with respect to the natural look of the film. The Colors are very good throughout, although black are solid, but there are some troubled spots on occasion throughout. I'd say fleshtones are accurate, but I guess that doesn't exactly apply here, overall a very good upgrade, and a very pleasing transfer overall.
The Muppet Movie has been presented in decent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The dialogue comes through clearly. The music sounds nice, but comes through with a tiny bit of echo at times, and everything is mixed nicely.
For a 35th Anniversary Special Edition, I expected a little bit more to this release, but Disney has seen fit to include a few nice extras. The disc opens with an 18 minute extended camera test by the director prior to shooting in a real locations. We also get 9 minutes of Frog-E-O-Ke 9 minutes of the films songs with lyrics playing against them. We then get Pepe's Profile on Kermit the Frog a 7 minute background on the life of Kermit the Frog. The disc is rounded off by a commercial for Doc Hopper's and a few trailers for the film. The last thing os interest is Disney Intermission, a feature that plays when you pause the film, and has the Muppets come out sing songs, tell jokes, etc.
The Muppet Movie is an undeniable classic that works well for people of all ages. The A/V restoration is for the most part excellent, although some additional extras would have been nice. The movie certainly comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and it is certainly the way to go as the DVD was certainly in need of an upgrade. The package as a whole is Recommended.