|Category||Comedy||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Rating||Other Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Year Released||1984||Commentary Tracks||No|
|Running Time||90:33 minutes||Other Extras||No|
|RRP||$39.95||Music||Jeff Moss (music and lyrics)
Ralph Burns (music score)
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||2.0 mono|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or
So, what does this incarnation of a Muppet movie bring to the screen? Well, pretty much what we have come to love and enjoy about The Muppets - plenty of mayhem. Anything less and it would not be The Muppets now, would it?
The broad story here is that Kermit and company have actually graduated from college (the mind boggles, it really does) and are heading out into the great wide world to seek fame and fortune. As a lasting monument to their days at college, they have created a musical that goes by the catchy name of Manhattan Melodies, which went down a treat with their college mates. Encouraged by the rapturous reception it gained, Kermit decides (after much pushing by the rest of the gang - Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Ralph, Skeeter, Animal, Gonzo and so forth) to head off to (guess where yet?) Broadway, to gain fame and fortune with the show, as well as to keep the gang together. Arriving in Nuuuuu Yawk as a bunch of optimistic graduates, the realities of life in the theatre soon come to roost - mainly in the form of their accommodation, namely the left luggage lockers at the bus station. Rejection after rejection follows until it becomes clear that Manhattan Melodies is not going to get a chance and the gang heads off in search of jobs and money. Kermit stays behind to work on the musical and survives with the help of Jenny and her father Pete, who runs a diner. Unfortunately Miss Piggy is her usual jealous self and decides to return to spy on Kermit. She does not take too kindly to the friendship between Jenny and her beloved Kermie. But, this is a Muppet movie after all (not The Muppet Movie, which is still eagerly awaited) so things obviously improve, this time in the form of the son of a big-time Broadway producer who wants to put on Manhattan Melodies as his debut as a producer. Success at last for Kermit, but in true Muppet style things still do not work out too smoothly. This time Kermit suffers an accident resulting in amnesia. Undeterred by the sudden disappearance of Kermit, the show must go on and the gang is recalled to Nuuuuu Yawk for opening night. Naturally enough, Kermit is found and through the expediency of an horrendous left cross from Miss Piggy, after several rather unfortunately ill-conceived jests about a frog and a pig getting together, regains his memory and goes on to lead the cast in a rip-roaring success of an opening night for Manhattan Melodies. Well, at least we presume it is a rip-roaring success as the film has a curiously un-Muppet like ending - right after the apparent marriage of Kermit and Miss Piggy.
So, the story is not the greatest ever written, but we still don't care. It is The Muppets, after all, and that is all that really matters. Along for the ride are the usual string of human guest stars and amongst the cameos this time around are Art Carney, James Coco, Dabney Coleman, Gregory Hines, Linda Lavin, Joan Rivers, Elliot Gould, Liza Minelli (playing herself very well indeed), Brooke Shields (another valiant attempt at almost being an actress - and being upstaged by a rat dammit), John Landis (even by his standards this is a weird thing to be involved with), Edward Koch (better known as The Mayor of Nuuuuu Yawk) and one Cheryl McFadden also appears. Who I hear you say? Well, Trekkers will know who she is - we know her better as Gates McFadden.
Okay, I am somewhat biased here, as I thoroughly enjoy this film, which I have to confess that I have not seen in a while owing to a somewhat lamented but definitely deceased VHS tape remaining unreplaced. The Muppets name on the cover guarantees a few laughs and plenty of mayhem - serious character and plot development is not what the punters are looking for here, anyway. It is not the best The Muppets have ever done, but it is still a lot of mindless fun for ninety minutes.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and with the usual 16x9 enhancement that we expect from this source.
Given that it is sixteen years old, what we have got is probably a little better than we should have expected, but is nothing really to rave over. By Columbia TriStar's lofty standards, this is a decent enough transfer albeit with little in terms of "wow factor" on offer. In general, we have a nice bright, sharp, detailed transfer, with a few relatively minor, albeit noticeable, lapses in softness that are excusable on the grounds of age. It is in general quite a clear transfer, although there were a couple of points at which this was clearly not the case and grain seemed to be quite evident. This was more noticeable than usual as these segments usually split two very sharp, clean sections of film and thus were highlighted because of it. Shadow detail was good throughout. There were a few hints of low level noise in the transfer, but nothing too distracting.
Once again the bright colours of The Muppets have been handled pretty well, although it has to be said that this does not display the sort of glorious vibrancy that we would expect from a younger transfer. There was no indication at all of oversaturation and colour bleed was not an issue either.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, apart from a couple of minor instances of aliasing, notably during the train sequence around the 21:35 mark, and a little telecine wobble at around the 23:18 mark. There were very few real instances of film artefacts in the transfer, apart from a couple of sequences around the middle of the film which were quite noticeably affected by black dirt marks. Even so, they were not really ugly and probably would not really bother many. Other than that, this is quite a clean transfer for a film of this age.
There are four audio tracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtracks: English,, French, German and Spanish. I listened to the English default soundtrack, but did briefly sample the other efforts. It is quite amazing how bad The Muppets sound in dubbed German! There is nothing wrong with the soundtrack mind you, it is just that the choice of voices is somewhat weird.
The dialogue was clear and generally easy to understand throughout - or at least as clear and easy to understand as The Muppets are supposed to be.
There were no audio sync problems with the transfer.
The music for the film comes from Ralph Burns, and a decent enough effort it is too. Unfortunately it is really overshadowed by the vocal music and lyrics from Jeff Moss. Rogers and Hammerstein it is not, but actually the musical aspect of the film is pretty decent (I would certainly rate it more enjoyable than some pure musicals set in Nuuuu Yawk that I have had the misfortune to review) and quite catchy too.
Whilst this is not a raw-sounding mono soundtrack, you are certainly left in no doubt that it is coming at you fairly and squarely from the centre channel. This really would have sounded a lot better in a surround-encoded stereo soundtrack, and it is interesting to note that despite the relative youth of the film, we have not got at least a stereo soundtrack. There is certainly no distortion nor other problems with the soundtrack, and in this regard the only thing to really complain about is that we did not get a better, remastered effort.
A pretty good video transfer.
A decent audio transfer.
A minor extras package.
© Ian Morris (have a
laugh, check out the bio)
4th June 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|