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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jim Henson
Cast:
Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Charles Grodin, Diana Rigg, John Cleese
Writing Credits:
Jerry Juhl, Tom Patchett, Jack Rose, Jay Tarses

Synopsis:
The second cinematic outing of Jim Henson's endearing Muppets. Here, Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear and The Great Gonzo are journalists in England investigating the theft of a gem known as the Baseball Diamond, which belonged to fashion maven Lady Holiday. But when Kermit meets would-be model Miss Piggy, he not only mistakes her for Lady Holiday, he begins falling in love with her! However Lady Holiday's crafty brother Nicky is also wooing the sexy swine - in order to frame her for the jewel theft. Can the wacky Muppets save Miss Piggy? And what will come of Miss Piggy and Kermit's inter-species relationship?

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$2.968 million on 73 screens.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $19.95
Release Date: 11/22/2005

Bonus:
• ďPepe Profiles Presents: Miss Piggy Ė The Diva Who Would Not Be DeniedĒ
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Great Muppet Caper: Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 23, 2006)

After the success of The Muppet Movie, a sequel was inevitable, and one appeared barely 18 months after the originalís Christmas 1979 release. In the summer of 1981, we got The Great Muppet Caper, another fun and frisky adventure starring our favorite goofy puppets.

Most Muppet fans prefer the first film to the sequels, which include 1984ís The Muppets Take Manhattan, 1992ís , 1996ís Muppet Treasure Island and 1999ís Muppets From Space. Although I havenít seen their take on Treasure Island yet, I like Carol. I have to agree with the negative assessment of Muppets From Space. That movie had some potential but it lacked spark or excitement.

However, I canít concur with the vaguely negative feelings toward the two Muppet flicks from the Eighties. In many ways, I thought Manhattan was superior to the first film, as it focused more on the characters themselves and less on gimmicks. The Great Muppet Caper followed in a same vein; while I canít clearly say I preferred it to the original flick, it succeeded in some ways that the 1979 piece didnít.

I was somewhat surprised to feel this way. As I noted in my review of Manhattan, Caper was the last Muppet film I saw theatrically. Iíd loved Movie but I felt moderately disappointed by the sequel. At least thatís the memory I retain; this was more than 20 years ago, so I canít say Iím positive that I wasnít wild about Caper.

Nonetheless, I found the 1981 film to be generally fun and entertaining in its own right. As with most of the Muppet flicks, the story was somewhat superfluous, but Iíll cover it anyway. Kermit the Frog (voiced by Jim Henson) and Fozzie Bear (Frank Oz) are twins who come to New York with their photographer friend Gonzo (Dave Goelz). They get a job as newspaper reporters because the editor (Jack Warden) was friends with their father. However, when they fail to pick up a huge story that develops right under their noses, they get in trouble and are almost fired. They attempt to redeem themselves as they pursue the facts of a big jewel heist.

Although the robbery took place in New York, the principals all live in England, so the twins and Gonzo head to the UK to get the scoop. There they plan to chat with Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg), the wealthy fashion designer whose jewelry was stolen. Along the way they meet the usual crew of nutty Muppets such as Animal (Oz), Dr. Teeth (Henson), and a slew of others.

Of course, Kermit also encounters and falls for Miss Piggy (Oz again), and she becomes a plot snag. Piggy wants to model for Lady Holiday, but instead she just gets a gig as a receptionist. However, Kermit mistakenly thinks that Piggy is Holiday, and since she wants to spend time with him, Piggy encourages the ruse. Matters complicate when Holidayís neíer-do-well brother Nicky (Charles Grodin) tries to frame Piggy for the crime, and Kermit - swept up by the blindness of true love - has to sort out the truth.

It should come as no surprise that all will end happily, and all will conclude entertainingly as well. Of the first three Muppet films, I probably prefer Manhattan just because it seemed to be the loosest of the bunch. Nonetheless, all of them are a lot of fun, and Caper certainly has its moments.

Caper was possibly the most tongue in cheek of the three, and its sly attitude carries the day throughout the film. The gag about how Fozzie and Kermit are twins is played for all its worth, and probably more. The bit wears thin at times, but it seems worth it if just to see the picture of Warden with their father; that mutant combination of Frog and Bear makes the movie worthwhile on its own.

In addition, Caper likes to break down walls and acknowledge that itís a movie. From the very start, Kermit tells us how theyíre playing reporters in the film, and thereís very little pretense of reality. Again, this can get a little old on occasion, but it allows the proceedings to loosen up and become delightfully frisky at times.

Of course, the plot is paper-thin; itís even weaker than the stories behind The Muppet Movie and Manhattan. Nonetheless, this kind of piece doesnít need a taut narrative to work, and the framework seems to be rich enough to keep the piece moving at an appropriate pace. Although Caper includes some cameos from actors like John Cleese and Peter Falk, these seem to be much less intrusive than the ďstar a minuteĒ technique displayed in Movie. For everything else that film did well, the ridiculous number of cameos really harmed it, since almost all of them were absurdly gratuitous and pointless. Those in Caper were more fun and intruded less; look for an especially witty appearance by Peter Ustinov.

Ultimately, The Great Muppet Caper was an erratic piece, but it definitely provided a lot of fun. Aficionados will continue to debate the merits of the different Muppet flicks. While I didnít think Caper was the best of the bunch, it held up well when compared to the others, and it provided a light and entertaining experience.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

The Great Muppet Caper appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the widescreen picture was reviewed for this article. Although the film often looked great, a few concerns created nuisances.

Sharpness consistently appeared strong. The movie always presented a crisp and detailed image that lacked many signs of softness or fuzziness. Due to factors Iíll soon discuss, the clarity of the picture could be compromised at times, but I didnít feel that most of these concerns related to the focus of the material itself; those elements usually remained distinct and concise. I also saw no signs of moirť effects or jagged edges, and edge enhancement seemed absent.

Most movies with lively palettes show those colors through clothes, backgrounds or other non-performing elements. That wasnít the case with Caper; in this flick, it was the actors themselves who provided the brightest hues. Though some of the sets also presented nice tones, the best colors were found in the various Muppets. Those critters covered pretty much every color in the rainbow, and I thought the tones usually looked solid. Reds seemed particularly vivid and accurate, but all of the other hues also came across as clean and vibrant. The filmís best moments involved the Dr. Teeth Band, as the wild mix of Muppets made for a real explosion of color. Sometimes extraneous elements compromised the quality of the colors, but they usually seemed strong.

Black levels generally seemed positive, with dark tones that appeared acceptably deep and rich. In addition, shadow detail looked fine. I noticed no problems with low-light scenes, as they were adequately well-developed.

The only notable problems came from source flaws. I detected sporadic examples of grit, speckles, and marks. These were acceptably infrequent, though. Grain was more of an issue, but at least it wasnít nearly as prominent as it became during The Muppet Movie. The flick looked grainiest during its opening and closing credits. Other sequences also appeared grainy, but not to a distracting degree.

The 2005 DVD marked an improvement over the 2001 release. Actually, both were similar except for the prevalence of source flaws. The 2005 DVD lost some of the debris, marks and grain. It wasnít a stunning improvement, but I thought the 2005 definitely offered superior visuals.

As for the audio found on the two discs, I thought both provided identical Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. Remixed from the original Dolby Surround track, the audio presented a fairly decent soundfield for its age. The forward channels showed reasonably positive localization and spread, as a variety of elements blended across speakers and moved together neatly. Panning was acceptably smooth and accurate, and most auditory elements appeared to be appropriately placed. Music showed the strongest separation, but a decent number of effects also cropped up on the sides, and these were fairly convincing.

Surround usage seemed to be relatively high, but it displayed some flaws. Frankly, the rears intruded on the track a little too heavily, as some elements - particularly musical ones - occasionally bled annoying to the surround speakers. Actually, ďbledĒ may not be the correct term, as it usually sounded as though the effect was intentional and didnít just slip through due to poor mastering.

However, this created a sense of ďdouble stereoĒ at times. By that I mean the stems from the front and rear seemed to have been duplicated to create an artificial impression of a surround track. At times it appeared that the same instrumentation occupied front and rear channels, and this became somewhat distracting. The mix for Caper attempted a nice level of involvement, but the execution occasionally seemed to be flawed.

Audio quality was generally bland but it appeared to be decent for the era. Speech sounded somewhat thick and flat, but I heard no signs of edginess and the dialogue always remained intelligible. Much of Caper was looped, and that aspect of the mix made it seem somewhat unnatural at times, but I still had few strong complaints about the speech.

Effects also sounded moderately reedy and stiff at times, but they didnít appear to be out of character for the time period; I donít expect phenomenal dynamics from a 24-year-old film, and the effects of Caper have held up reasonably well over the years. Music presented a more mixed bag. Most of the tunes and score sounded somewhat muddy. Highs appeared slightly muffled, and although I heard a fairly heavy bass presence, the low-end often came across as boomy and indistinct.

However, at times I thought these elements improved significantly. For example, ďNightlifeĒ was surprisingly clear and vivid; it didnít seem like a new recording, but it sounded much more rich and vibrant than most of the rest of the music as it offered clean highs and reasonably taut bass. Unfortunately, that tune was an exception to the rule. Overall, the soundtrack to The Great Muppet Caper was quite acceptable for its age, but it showed some weak aspects and earned a decent but unspectacular ďB-ď.

Donít expect much in the way of supplements. The sole attraction comes from Pepe Profiles Presents: Miss Piggy Ė The Diva Who Would Not Be Denied. This five-minute and 40-second piece is ďhostedĒ by the strange prawn Pepe as he chats about Piggyís work and history. He chats with Piggy herself and we get some comments from Muppets like Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo. Itís not packed with laughs, but it has some funny moments.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Lady and the Tramp, The Wild Shaggy Dog, The Muppet Show Season One and The Muppets Wizard of Oz. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with an ad for Radio Disney.

Despite the lack of extras, The Great Muppet Caper offered a decent DVD. The movie itself was a lot of fun, as it neatly encapsulated the spunky and witty charm of the Muppets. The DVD provided acceptable picture and audio; it just skimped on supplements. Nonetheless, The Great Muppet Caper seemed acceptable as a DVD, and the movie was enough fun to merit your attention.

Should folks who own the original 2001 DVD replace it with this new one? Only if they feel dissatisfied with the old discís picture quality. The 2005 release offers moderate improvements in that department. I donít know if the 2005 disc is enough of an upgrade to warrant another $20 from you, however, and the DVD includes nothing else that makes it worth your money. Most will probably remain happy enough with the 2001 disc, though the 2005 release is definitely the one to get if you donít own the earlier version.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main