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Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/12/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/8/2014
When Jason Segel helped in resurrecting The Muppets in 2011, it was somewhat of a weird mixed blessing. He has certainly shown off some puppetry and musical skills in 2008'sForgetting Sarah Marshall, but that was a decidedly adult project, so having him co-write and star in a Muppet movie felt a bit odd. Indeed, Segel brought an adult perspective to the film and because of this, The Muppets played life a love-letter to childhood, but also a search for adult identity. Is that what we want in a family film? Is that what we want in a Muppet movie? The sequel, Muppets Most Wanted, does a much better job of understanding what audiences want and expect from their beloved Muppets.
Muppets Most Wanted literally begins right where The Muppets ended. As "The End" fades from the screen, The Muppets realize that the cameras are still there and that it's time to do a sequel and they must decide what they want to do next. After a subtle suggestion from Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), Kermit (voiced by Steve Whitmire) announces that The Muppets should go on a world tour. They meet with Badguy and plan everything. Meanwhile, Constantine (voiced by Matt Vogel), a frog who looks just like Kermit (save for a mole), escapes from a Siberian gulag. Once the Muppet tour reaches Berlin, the authorities mistake him for Constantine and the evil double takes his place on the tour. We come to learn that during The Muppet's performances, Constantine is planning to rob famous landmarks. Will Kermit be able to escape from prison and help his friends?
My love for The Muppets goes back to the 70s when I would watch them on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, which, of course, only grew when The Muppet Movie was released. I am a sucker for The Muppets brand of very corny humor, their ability to ignore reality when necessary, their use of pop-culture references, and their love for celebrity cameos. It's always amazed me how the early movies mixed the simplicity of puppets with the advanced Muppeteering (if you will) techniques and jokes which would often make a school-age child shake their head in shame. The humor was often infantile, but the sheer lunacy of it all appealed to adults. Despite their best efforts, The Muppets was missing this. The film had some good goofy moments, but it also tried to be way to earnest, especially with that "Man or Muppet" song.
Muppets Most Wanted does not suffer from these problems. From the outset, the movie is incredibly goofy and silly and it is apparently determined to get back to its Muppets roots. In order to appeal to a young audience, The Muppets had to play like an origin story and it was weighed down by its "Let's get the band back together" plot. Now that the characters are together and re-established, Muppets Most Wanted is free to go on its zany way, and what we get is pure classic Muppets. We have Miss Piggy (voiced by Eric Jacobson) forcing herself onto Kermit, and then, Constantine. We get Gonzo (voiced by Dave Goelz) and Fozzie (voiced by Jacobson) doing what they do best. We get a slew of odd Muppets as background characters. The only thing that's missing from the movie Muppet-wise is the lack of participation by Pepe and Rizzo the Rat. (Which makes it odd that Pepe is doing promotional shorts for the film.)
When I first saw the trailer for Muppets Most Wanted, I rolled my eyes in disbelief. Not only were they trotting out the tired "Evil Twin" plot, but they were taking the Muppets to Europe, just as in the disappointing The Great Muppet Caper, so my expectations for the film were quite low. So, I was delighted to finh myself laughing throughout the film and while I don't agree with carrying on the tradition of making Muppet movies be musicals, I must admit that most of the songs here are catchy. I was truly surprised by the fact that Constantine steals the show. His apathy towards all things Muppets leads to some great lines, most notably when he wrecks the names of the other characters. The movie is filled with great cameos, but I won't ruin those for you by revealing the names. Rarely has a movie which features scenes in a gulag been as fun as Muppets Most Wanted, but the movie proves itself to be a charmer. If you are like me and had doubts about this one (as did many judging by the box-office results), put those aside and check it out.
Muppets Most Wanted gets in an amazing amount of jokes about the work ethics of Europeans on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. As one would hope, the colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good, as we can see where Kermit is pilling-up in places, and the pictures shows off an impressive amount of depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and 2.0 Mbps. (I don't believe that I've encountered one of these tracks before.) The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done, as we get constant sounds coming from off-screen and things going from side-to-side. The background chatter and sounds from action sequences fill the rear channels, and we get some nice "oomph!" from the subwoofer.
The Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. "The Statler & Waldorf Cut" has the film whittled down to just a few seconds by the Muppets' favorite hecklers. "The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets History" offers 10 minutes of blown lines and Muppet issues. "Rizzo's Biggest Fan" (3 minutes) has Rizzo the Rat writing a letter to protest his lack of screen-time in the film. The final extra is the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "I'll Get You What You Want" by Bret McKenzie.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long