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On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan, and his friends Gary and Mary from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets' former stomping grounds. To stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate.
For more about The Muppets and the The Muppets Blu-ray release, see the The Muppets Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 8, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: James Bobin
Writers: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire
» See full cast & crew
The Muppets Blu-ray Review
The Muppets are dead. Long live the Muppets!
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 8, 2012
The music hadn't played on the big screen in twelve years, the lights had been dark for far too long, and, until The Muppets stormed theaters last Thanksgiving, it didn't look like anything would ever get things started again. Any and all hope for a Muppets revival lay squarely on the shoulders of That Guy From How I Met Your Mother, That Other Guy Who Directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and What's His Name That Created Flight of the Conchords, the three of whom struck a deal with Disney in 2008 to breathe new theatrical life into what many considered a fading (some would have said dying) franchise.
But there were those of us who never gave up on the Henson gang; those of us with the unwavering belief that the Muppets would rise again; those of us who stayed true through all of the direct-to-video releases, all the dead-end deals, and all the shattered dreams. We held out hope when others declared the Muppets a relic of a simpler time. We waited patiently at the gate to Kermit's estate when others walked away shaking their heads. We watched with baited breath as Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller and James Bobin made their move. And we were the first in line when The Muppets finally debuted. We were nervous, of course. What if the film bombed? We were worried too. What if it was a horrible movie? Some of us were downright terrified. What if it bombed and turned out to be a horrible movie? Imagine the flood of relief, then, when The Muppets took off and never looked back. Imagine our excitement as it proved itself to be one of the best Muppet movies ever. And imagine, just imagine, the sheer joy that erupted from theater to shining theater when it turned out to be one of the best all-ages movies of the year. High praise, I know, but having watched The Muppets five times now, it's high praise that isn't going to be watered down anytime soon.
It all could have gone terribly, terribly wrong, though. For every Bobo the Bear, new Muppet ventures always seem to produce a Seymour the Elephant or, worse, a Clifford the... what is Clifford? And in crafting their ideal Muppet movie, Segel, Stoller and Bobin were ready to risk everything on an entirely new creation: Walter (puppeteer Peter Linz), an average, run-of-the-mill muppet (lowercase "m") who's dreamed of meeting the Muppets ever since he was a little boy. But Walter is, hands down, one of the best Muppets to come along since Jim Henson first put Kermit in charge of his motley band of wide-eyed puppets; not to mention the first indication that Segel and company know exactly what they're doing. And the story that evolves around their ordinary muppet of the people is as natural as it is a complete and total rejuvenation of the series. When Walter's very human brother Gary (Segel) decides to take his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to Los Angeles for a romantic getaway, the big lug can't resist, inviting Walter to tag along and tour the Muppet studios. Sadly, when they arrive, Walter learns the Muppets have all but been forgotten. Their studio is run down, ownership of the grounds is about to pass to wealthy oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), and unearthed oil threatens to spell the end of the Muppets. And so our heroes -- Gary, Mary and a starstruck Walter -- go in search of Kermit and his pals, who they learn haven't spoken to one another in years. Now it's up to Walter to get the Muppets back together, help them raise $10 million to save their theater, and put together a telethon-to-end-all-telethons to do so.
Segel, Stoller and Bobin's pitch? Simple, back-to-the-basics fun with plenty of heart and soul, courtesy of a genuine love for the Muppets and a driving sense of injustice that someone, anyone could let Henson's pride and joy slip off the cultural radar. Their master plan? Simple and heartfelt as well:
Step 1 - Make 'em Laugh. The Muppets isn't funny, it's hilarious. Aside from the occasional dud, the gags sizzle, the jokes hit their mark, and the humor taps everything that makes the Muppets, well... the Muppets. Gonzo's plumbing empire, Animal's anger management therapy, '80s robot and his mo-dam, Fozzie's Vegas follies, the telethon pitches, Muppet Man, rebuilding the city (or theater, as it were), kidnapping a celebrity host, prepping a show to end all shows, chickens bawking out Cee Lo Green's infamous FU, Beeker's barbershop quartet singing "Smells like Teen Spirit," and Walter. Dear, dear Walter, who's almost as charming and endearing as Kermit himself. The only missteps? Cooper's "Let's Talk About Me," recruiting Jack Black to host the telethon when Neil Patrick Harris is sitting in the balcony, and an abrupt ending that isn't as satisfying as it could have been.
Step 2 - Make 'em Feel at Home. The film is as much a throwback as it is a launchpad, referencing the Golden Age of Henson as often as it locks its eyes ahead. Segel and Stoller's script doesn't reference the Muppets of old as much as it worships them. It isn't a reboot, it's a love letter. It isn't a CG-riddled abomination, it's a practically crafted, felt-covered ode to classic puppetry and Muppet filmmaking. It isn't a re-imagining, it's a puppet-y revelation, complete with commentary on the state of modern family entertainment, the changing times, and the unbreakable bonds of true friendship. It isn't a one hit wonder, it pens the first of many new chapters in the franchise's future, which is perhaps the filmmakers' greatest feat.
Step 3 - Make 'em Cheer. Getting the band back together sets the stage, preparing for the telethon pulls back the curtain, and the show brings down the house. Between the comedy, the pathos, and the music, all of which come together long before the telethon counter nears $10 million, The Muppets is the full package. It's pitch to audiences young and old? Come one, come all, come love the Muppets again. Go home and tell your friends. Come back and enjoy it all over again. It's even better the second time around.
Step 4 - Make 'em Cry. If you don't shed a tear at some point during The Muppets, you're a soulless oil magnate hellbent on puppet genocide. Kermit's lament, "Pictures in My Head," breaks me without fail, and it comes early on. Seeing Fozzie shift uncomfortably, Piggy and Kermit struggle to define their broken relationship, and Walter step up and do something extraordinary follows in quick succession soon after. And if none of that gets you, good luck escaping the Muppets' latest performance of "The Rainbow Connection," which leaves me in a heap every time. There's an inherent sadness underpinning the entire story too, making any reunion the Muppets achieve a hard-fought, emotionally taxing one that, for all intents and purposes, treats the Muppets as if they were real flesh-n-felt creatures.
Step 5 - Leave 'em Singing, Smiling and Wanting More. I already want to plow back through The Muppets, even though nostalgia, not necessarily its status as a great film, is the chief culprit. If you don't come away singing "Man or Muppet" (the best Muppet song in decades and an Oscar winner to boot), if you don't leave with a dopey grin plastered on your face, if you have any reservations about watching it all over again, then I have no choice but to question your love of the Muppets. It isn't a perfect film, I know. But Segel, Stoller and Bobin's love is pure and their affection is infused in the very fabric of the film. That alone makes it easy to get caught up in the moment, and it's well in place before a single joke is told, a song is sung, or a reunion is realized. So come for the Muppets but stay for The Muppets. You won't regret it.
The Muppets Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Muppets dazzles and delights with a near-flawless 1080p/AVC-encoded beauty that captures every thread, patch of felt, and tuft of fur with pleasant pixel-by-pixel precision. Detail is excellent, from the slightest texture to the crispest line, there aren't any mishaps to point to. Edge definition is nice and sharp (without any pesky ringing to speak of), the tiniest pores and finest muppet fabrics are wonderfully resolved, and delineation doesn't disappoint, revealing every nuance tucked within the Muppet Theater's backstage shadows. Colors are bright and bold as well, with perfectly saturated Kermit greens, Piggy pinks, Fozzie browns, Gonzo purples and Animal reds to go around. Human skintones are natural and lifelike too, primaries are lovely, black levels are rich and inky, and contrast is spot on from beginning to end. Moreover, I didn't catch sight of any significant artifacting, banding, aliasing, crush or noise, and the entire presentation seems to fall into place. So, without any distractions to be had, kick back, grab a bag of popcorn, and grin and gaze at the screen like a wide-eyed idiot.
The Muppets Blu-ray, Audio Quality
It's time to play the music indeed. Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is pure electric mayhem, matching the power, punch and pizazz of the film's visuals beat for beat and song for song. Dialogue is crystal clear, without a lost line, snubbed whisper, or missing mee mee mee mo in the bunch. Needless to say, dynamics are terrific, whether Kermit is lamenting the loss of his friends or rallying the troops for one last shot at Muppet greatness. LFE output rocks the house from start to finish, lending every car ride, pratfall, stage accident, celebrity kidnapping, and memorable song legitimate oomph. The rear speakers play their part as well, whipping the already immersive soundfield into a frenzy of fruit-slinging activity and directional glee. Cross-channel pans are slick and smooth, music erupts from every angle, and the experience is wholly and completely enveloping. Simply put: it doesn't get much better than this. And it's for a Muppet movie to boot. Enjoy!
The Muppets Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Muppets Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Is The Muppets a muppet of a movie or a very manly Muppet movie? Rest easy, Kermit fans. It's a very manly Muppet movie and it delivers on all fronts, from newcomer Walter to Jason Segel and Amy Adams, the script, the laughs, the heartfelt exchanges, the tearful reunions, the songs, the music... the whole package. It isn't a flawless reboot, mind you -- Cooper's so-so as villain Tex Richman, the guest stars could have been a touch stronger, and the ending is a bit abrupt -- but Segel and his Muppet-loving cohorts get so much right that it's easy to overlook the few missteps they make along the way. Disney's AV presentation is flawless, though, thanks to an excellent video transfer and a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. The only downside to the release? The disc's supplemental package disappoints. Including a digital download of The Muppets soundtrack is a big plus, but the filmmakers' audio commentary, the deleted scenes and most of the disc's other extras come up short. But it hardly matters. The Muppets are finally back in big-screen business. Try not to let them fall by the wayside again.
The Muppets: Other Editions
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