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A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 9/29/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/29/2009

I've never given it much thought, but for my family, the statement "It's not Christmas without The Muppets" has some truth to it. Every Christmas season, we watch at least one Muppet Christmas special or movie, such as The Muppet Christmas Carol or It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. While The Muppets are certainly entertaining, these projects have a spirit of holiday cheer and togetherness which is great for family viewing. While they aren't as popular at they once were, The Muppets still love the holidays, as evidenced in the new release A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.

As A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa opens, it's Christmas Eve and we find the familiar Muppets characters, including Kermit (voiced by Steve Whitmire), Miss Piggy (voiced by Eric Jacobson), Fozzie (voiced by Jacobson), Gonzo (voiced by Dave Goelz), Rizzo (voiced by Whitmire), and Pepe (voiced by Bill Barretta), at the Post Office, mailing some last minute letters and gifts. Gonzo has promised to mail a letter to Santa for his neighbor, Claire (Madison Pettis). Chaos ensues at the Post Office, and when Gonzo gets home, he realizes that he didn't mail Claire's letter. After some brainstorming, the group decides that they should forego their planned Christmas vacations and head to the North Pole to take the letter directly to Santa. However, they soon learn that getting to Santa isn't that easy.

OK, let's get that one big question out of the way -- Who mails letters to Santa on Christmas Eve? "Dear Santa, Happy Day After Christmas..."

As The Muppets no longer make feature films (which is a shame), they now make periodic appearances in these TV specials, and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa is exactly what you would expect. The story focuses on what has become the core group of Muppets: Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, Rizzo, and Pepe. As usual, they get involved in a situation involving a human and volunteer to help that person. They then embark on an adventure which includes a few songs.

And like the other recent Muppets projects, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa is hit-or-miss. The standard brand of corny Muppets humor is here, and as one would hope, there are some funny lines (especially if you have a working knowledge of The Muppets). And no one can milk a running gag like The Muppets. Pepe has grown to be one of my favorite Muppets and he steals every scene that he's in. We also get the standard selection of human guest stars. But, there are drawbacks as well. The songs, by Paul Williams, are fairly uninspired. The storyline is wafer-thin and there's never any doubt that Kermit and his friends will complete their mission. And while I certainly admire the men and women of the Postal Service, I don't know if a musical tribute was necessary.

The sad truth is that the heydays of The Muppet Movie are long gone. But, that doesn't mean that The Muppets aren't still delightful. They've never lost their energy and the comic timing is as good as ever.

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa brings the holiday spirit to DVD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look great, most notably the reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. There is some mild artifacting in some shots, but otherwise this rivals digital broadcast quality. The DVD contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and there are some good moments with off-screen sounds coming from the right or left channels. The audio during the airplane scene is notably good. However, we don't get much in the way of surround or subwoofer action.

The extras on the DVD are contained in a section called "The Muppets Stocking Stuffer Smorgasbord". Here, we get five brief behind-the-scenes segments, each about 1 minute each. Each focuses on one specific individual: Jane Krakowski, Madison Pettis, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie and Gonzo. The DVD contains four DELETED SCENES, each of which is short. The last extra is a STILL GALLERY. The problem with this whole exercise is that the extras aren't labeled and the viewer must pick and choose Christmas-themed icons with no idea what they are going to get.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long