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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Brian Henson
Cast:
Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz, David Rudman, Louise Gold
Writing Credits:
Charles Dickens (novel), Jerry Juhl

Synopsis:
'Tis the season for love, laughter, and one of the most cherished stories of all time! Join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and all the hilarious Muppets in this merry, magical version of Charles Dickens' classic tale. Academy Award winner Michael Caine gives a performance that's anything but "bah, humbug!" as greedy, penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge. One fateful Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Together with kind, humble Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) and his family, the Spirits open Scrooge's eyes - and his heart - to the true meaning of Christmas. Filled with original music and dazzling special effects, this restored and remastered Blu-Ray Edition of The Muppet Christmas Carol will become a holiday tradition your family will treasure all the days of the year.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$27.281 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 86 min.
Price: $26.50
Release Date: 11/6/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Brian Henson
• Audio Commentary with Muppet Characters
• “Disney Intermission”
• Gag Reel
• “Pepe Profiles Presents: Gonzo – Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo”
• “Christmas Around the World”
• “Frogs, Pigs and Humbug: Unwrapping a Holiday Classic” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Muppet Christmas Carol: 20th Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray] (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 13, 2012)

With approximately eight zillion versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol out there, how do you make a new adaptation different? In some cases, folks chose to use fictional characters to play the role. Apparently, it also helps if these products accentuate the letter “M”. Mickey Mouse has his version of the story, as does Mr. Magoo. Add the Muppets to that pile, as we find in 1992’s A Muppet Christmas Carol.

Since every edition of Carol uses the same story, every review I do of it features the same plot synopsis. Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) runs his own business and is clearly a skinflint and a jerk. Isolated from others by his own accord, on Christmas Eve the misanthrope receives a visit from the ghost of Robert and Jacob Marley (Statler and Waldorf/Dave Goelz and Jerry Nelson), his old partners. Condemned to remain in limbo, Marley warns Scrooge that he’ll suffer the same fate if he doesn’t clean up his act.

Scrooge initially discounts this incident, but then he receives additional visits from other ghosts. One takes him to Scrooge accompanies Christmas Past (Robert Tygner/Karen Prell/William Todd Jones/Jessica Fox), where he watches his childhood experiences and recalls how much he used to love the season.

From there he goes with Christmas Present (Nelson/Donald Austen), where he sees the poor but loving family of his employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog/Steve Whitmire). Scrooge learns that Cratchit’s son Tiny Tim (Nelson) will die without significant medical attention. He also sees the festivities of his merry nephew Fred (Steven Mackintosh). Lastly, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Austen/Tygner) shows Scrooge his own fate as well as that of Tiny Tim. When the ghosts finish with Scrooge, he changes his ways and becomes a barrel of laughs.

How does the Muppet Carol set itself apart from other versions? For one, this edition comes with active narration. We get Gonzo (Goelz) as Charles Dickens. He leads us through the tale with accompaniment from his rat sidekick Rizzo (Whitmire).

The Muppet flick also presents a nice sense of insouciance usually absent from these renditions. There’s a fun sense of self-reference and wackiness at play here that take the tale from its usual dowdy roots and make it lively. The Muppets don’t pour on goofiness every second of the way, as they know when to back off and take things more seriously. Nonetheless, the sense of playful comedy adds a fun tone to the proceedings.

Conversely, the fact that the humans play things straight also benefits the film. Caine makes an excellent Scrooge largely because he presents a more subdued presence than we expect in that role. Usually Scrooges ham it up but good, but Caine underplays the part. This makes him more believable and helps humanize the Muppet-filled setting. A flick with too much silliness would go off-course, so Caine’s efforts to ground the material help quite a bit.

I find this to be a well-rounded take on Carol. Obviously I like its humor, but it delivers the appropriate emotion as well. Who thought that the off-screen death of a frog puppet would evoke any feelings? In this flick, it does.

That’s just one of the reasons The Muppet Christmas Carol is a winner. It does almost everything right and makes few missteps along the way. Admittedly, I could live without the songs, but they’re brief and bolster the material acceptably well. I really like this Carol and think it’s one of the best versions of the tale I’ve seen.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

The Muppet Christmas Carol appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. 1992 film stocks could look bland, and that tendency affected this one, but within those constraints, the image seemed positive.

Very rarely did I encounter any issues with sharpness. The vast majority of the flick demonstrated concise, distinctive images. A little softness crept into some wider shots, but those didn’t cause distractions. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and I also didn’t discern edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I saw no problems here, as the movie remained clean. I didn’t sense any digital noise reduction and saw a natural layer of grain.

Colors worked nicely. With a winter setting, the palette stayed subdued but still managed reasonably lively tones. The colors always looked warm and inviting. Blacks seemed deep and dense. Shadows looked pretty smooth, without excessive opacity. I wasn’t dazzled by the image but it appeared to offer a satisfying reproduction of the source material.

While I felt less impressed by the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Muppet Christmas Carol, I thought it did what it needed to do. The soundfield was a modest affair. The most active scenes came during the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. We got some thunder and rain along with spooky effects, all of which blended well with the surrounds.

Otherwise the mix concentrated on the front and offered general ambience. The music showed good stereo imaging, and the whole package mixed together smoothly. The rear speakers mostly reinforced the forward elements and added a little dimensionality to the track.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech always sounded concise and distinctive, as no lines suffered from edginess or other problems. Music presented good bounce and clarity. They didn’t tax the speakers but the score and songs seemed appropriately full. Effects also rarely stood out from the crowd. The smattering of louder elements offered nice heft, but usually things stayed subdued. Nonetheless, those bits were tight and accurate. This was a more than decent soundtrack for this kind of film.

How did this Blu-ray compare to the last DVD from 2005? Audio was a little smoother and fuller, while the visuals seemed tighter, cleaner and better defined. In other words, expect the usual Blu-ray upgrades here.

The Blu-ray includes the DVD’s extras plus some additional materials. We open with two audio commentaries, the first of which comes from director Brian Henson. He offers a running, screen-specific chat. He mainly focuses on technical topics as he relates all the challenges involved in filming Muppets, especially when they interact with humans.

Henson also discusses casting, choosing what Muppets to use in various roles, songs and score, adapting the Dickens story, the added song, editing and cinematographic choices. We even find out why the Muppet personnel hate Bean Bunny. Henson goes silent too much of the time, but he offers more than enough good information to make this a worthwhile commentary.

For the second track, we hear from various Muppet characters. Kermit appears at the start but soon disappears and pops up briefly toward the end with a “special guest”. Statler and Waldorf also chat over the credits, but the heavy lifting comes from Rizzo and Gonzo; they cover the vast majority of the film.

Commentaries like this occasionally touch on actual filmmaking information, but they’re usually intended as comedy. Do we get a laugh riot here? Nope, but it’s a tolerable piece. I’d be lying if I said I found the track to be a hoot; in fact, I split up my listening into three or four sessions because things got a bit tedious. Still, it can be fun at times, so it’s not a bad commentary.

Frogs, Pigs and Humbug: Unwrapping a New Holiday Classic goes for 21 minutes, 56 seconds. Hosted by Gonzo and Rizzo, it delivers comments from Henson, Muppet performers Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire, writer Jerry Juhl, songwriter Paul Williams, and actor Michael Caine. We get notes about the story’s adaptation, song, cast, characters, performances, and some other elements. This becomes a fun little piece that mixes comedy and facts to become a satisfying show.

First used on the Blu-ray for 2011’s The Muppets, Disney Intermission delivers a fun component. If you activate this feature, every time you pause the movie, you’ll see various Muppets as they perform Christmas carols. I tried this four times; the first three featured the rats – and repeated “Jingle Bells” – while the fourth showed the Swedish Chef plus chickens. I liked “Intermission” in prior incarnations and enjoy it here as well.

A Gag Reel lasts two minutes, 33 seconds. Some are staged while others are legit. None of them are terribly amusing.

For more silliness, we get Pepe Profiles Presents: Gonzo – Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo. This five-minute and 29-second piece is “hosted” by strange prawn Pepe as he chats about Gonzo’s work and history. He chats with Gonzo himself and we get some comments from Muppets like Kermit, Fozzie and Miss Piggy. It’s not packed with laughs, but it has some funny moments.

Christmas Around the World goes for two minutes and 58 seconds. In this Gonzo and Rizzo chat about different holiday traditions from various locations. It lacks substance but it seems cute and entertaining.

The disc opens with ads for Wreck-It Ralph and Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups. These also pop up under Sneak Peeks along with promos for ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas”, Finding Nemo, Planes and Peter Pan. No trailer for Christmas Carol pops up here.

A second disc offers a digital copy of the film. Hooray!

Given the existence of eight million other adaptations of the Dickens story, is there any reason to see A Muppet Christmas Carol? Yes – it’s a lot of fun. It also provides a rich and surprisingly true retelling of the tale, and it works awfully well. The Blu-ray offers positive visuals, more than adequate audio and a smattering of satisfying supplements. This is a delightful film and a solid Blu-ray.

To rate this film, visit the Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition review of THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

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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