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THE MUPPET MOVIE “Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition” – The Blu Review

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And to think, at one time there were skeptics who claimed that a Muppet film couldn’t be done! That only humans could star in successful films! Boy, did Jim Henson and co.  prove them wrong! THE MUPPET MOVIE was a huge hit in 1979 and spawned decades of sequels. Now it is available in a Blu-ray/Digital combo pack that is loaded with terrific extras.

THE MUPPET MOVIE is essentially a road movie. After meeting a Hollywood agent and learning that a big film studio is holding auditions, Kermit the Frog hits the highway, picking up various friends on the way. First he meets Fozzie Bear, telling jokes in a nasty cafe. Then they meet Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and then Gonzo and his chicken friend Camilla, and then the incomparable Miss Piggy, and finally Rowlf the Dog. All of these guys decide to head for Tinseltown to hit the big time. But there is trouble in the form of shady Southern businessman Doc Hopper. He intends to open a chain of frog-leg restaurants and wants Kermit to be his spokesman. Doc won’t take no for an answer and tries just about every trick in the book to get his way.

The Muppets themselves are brilliant, Charles Durning as Doc Hopper is a suitably hissable bad guy, and the celebrity guest artists who cameo are all great, particularly Mel Brooks as a mad scientist and Steve Martin as an unbelievably sarcastic waiter. The best part of the movie is without a doubt the songs, the stand outs being the Oscar-nominated ‘Rainbow Connection’ and Gonzo’s song ‘I’m Going To Go Back There Someday’ (which inspired the plot of the later MUPPETS FROM SPACE). THE MUPPET MOVIE is a treat for all the family and Jim Henson wisely included jokes that both adults and kids would enjoy. For instance the joke, “Turn left at the fork in the road” cracks me up every time. The only downside to watching THE MUPPET MOVIE 34 years later is realizing how many of the human guests stars (not to mention Henson himself) have passed away. Actually, most of them have: Orson Wells, Edgar Bergen, Milton Berle, Richard Pryor, James Coburn, Bob Hope, Telly Savalas, Dom DeLuise, and Madeline Kahn are all gone.  Fortunately Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, Elliot Gould, Cloris Leachman, and Carol Kane are still with us. And “Rainbow Connection” should have won that Oscar for “Best Original Song” in 1979! I mean does anyone remember the winning song from NORMA RAE?!

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Now THE MUPPET MOVIE has arrived on Blu-ray in what they are calling the “Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition”. The 1.85:1 Hi-def transfer 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. Colors are bright and bold, 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. There is some grain (it is a 35mm film after all), but nothing at all to complain about. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio is pure electric mayhem, matching the power, punch and pizazz of the film’s visuals beat for beat and song for song.

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However, the real treats in THE MUPPET MOVIE Blu-ray are some unique special features:

Jim Frawley’s Camera Test runs 17 minutes. Frawley was the credited director of THE MUPPET MOVIE and this is vintage footage of him (along with Henson and Frank Oz) taking the Muppets outdoors, likely to see how they would read on film. They drive around and yell jokes at cows. This is the kind of rare footage I wish more ‘70s titles would provide and is a lot of fun

Doc Hopper’s Commercial a one-minute commercial for Doc Hoppers restaurant

Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along runs 8 minutes, allowing the viewer to sing along to “Rainbow Connection,” “Movin’ Right Along” and “Can You Picture That” with the help of text.

Pepe Profiles Present Kermit: A Frog’s Life runs 7 minutes and is a look at Kermit’s career hosted by  Pepe the Prawn.

Original Trailers – two trailers running six minutes total.

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