1 The Muppet Mindset: A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa DVD Review and Muppet Love for the Disney Parks

Sep 29, 2009

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa DVD Review and Muppet Love for the Disney Parks

BREAKING MUPPET NEWS!!!



You know those crazy Muppets? You know how they were seen filming at Disneyland Resort a few months ago? You know how it was reported that this footage would be used for a massive, brand-new, Disney Parks promotion starring The Muppets?

Yeah, it happened.






The Muppets have started appearing everywhere on the official Disney Parks websites. From the official Disney Parks Home Page, to the official Walt Disney World Home Page, to Disney's "What Will You Celebrate?" promotional video page, to the brand new "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" website starring the Muppets, those crazy puppets are everywhere!

It's all part of Disney's new "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion. Starting in January 2010, if you give a day of volunteer service to one of the approved volunteer organizations, you get a free, one day ticket to any Disneyland or Walt Disney World park absolutely free!

This is obviously a huge undertaking for Disney, and the Muppets appear to be a huge part of it! They've finally been integrated as part of the Disney Family! Once again, it's an incredibly exciting time to be a Muppet fan!

Speaking of which, Gonzo and Animal appeared on Dancing With the Stars last night during Aaron Carter's performance dancing to The Muppet Show theme song. Animal played the drums briefly at the beginning and Gonzo popped up at the end to blow his trumpet in one of the judge's ears. Here's a clip of the show on YouTube. Muppets start around 1:27.

While we're talking about YouTube, you should watch this video of a six year old performing "I'm Gonna Always Love You" from The Muppets Take Manhattan. It's the new cutest thing ever.

Continuing this absolutely huge day for Muppet fans, here's our review of A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa Extended Edition DVD, released today!



A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
Extended Edition DVD Review


DVD


Film


Ryan Dosier
- Last December, the Muppets took NBC by storm with their latest foray into made-for-TV film with A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. Written by Scott Fink, Hugh Ganz, Andrew Samson, and Paul Williams (yes, that Paul Williams), and songs by Paul Williams (yes, that Paul Williams), this brand new Christmas special has finally come to DVD.

Featuring cameo appearances by Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, Uma Thurman, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jesse L. Martin, Tony Sirico, Steve Schirripa, Petra Nemcova, Jane Krakowski, Madison Pettis, Richard Griffiths, and Paul Williams (yes, that Paul Williams) (I'll stop that eventually), this star-studded, hour-long Muppet holiday spectacular is just that, spectacular!

THE MOVIE
The greatest part of this DVD is actually sitting down and laughing and loving this special. You'll grin from ear to ear as classic, fan-favorite characters pop up and deliver some hilarious lines (Scooter, Lew Zealand, The Electric Mayhem) while new-age Muppets steal the show (Pepe and Bobo the Bear). It's a fantastic balance between classic Muppets and the Muppets of today.

The story may seem short and rushed due entirely to the lack of run-time and shooting time (run-time is just around an hour, and allocated shooting time was about two weeks), but it's still a fantastic special, and arguably the best thing the Muppets have done since being taken under Disney's wing.

An interesting thing to note in this story is the return of music to the special. In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, we started to see this, but the songs were unfortunately laced with too much of Ashanti's camera mugging to be meaningful. Here, we see four great songs written by veteran Muppet song writer Paul Williams (The Muppet Movie, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol) and performed by the Muppets--no random guest star camera hogging here (except for a brief line or two from Jesse L. Martin, but he was classy about it so all is forgiven).

Another amazing thing about this special is the amount of characters seen in featured roles. Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rizzo, and Pepe are the stars of the show, with Miss Piggy stealing the spotlight in every scene she appears, but great appearances are made by Statler, Waldorf, Bunsen, Beaker, The Electric Mayhem, Swedish Chef, Crazy Harry, Scooter, Lew Zealand, Bobo the Bear, Rowlf, Robin, Sweetums, Camilla, Sam Eagle, and more. Each and every Muppet listed here (besides Bunsen and Bobo) has been recast by a new performer after their original either passed away or retired from Muppet performing. I'm proud to say that all of the Muppets sound spot-on perfect here and can't wait to hear more from each of them!

The cameo appearances are also great. They don't feel forced and fit nicely into the story. The highlight, of course, is Nathan Lane as Airline Security Officer Frank Meany. His performance with Bobo the Bear is one of funniest cameo appearances in any Muppet movie! (Yes, I've seen Bob Hope's in The Muppet Movie.)

My favorite part of the film is the end (and not for the same reason as Statler and Waldorf), it's so happy and wonderful and heart-warming. All of the Muppets gather to sing and celebrate Christmas, it's very reminiscent of A Muppet Family Christmas in that sense.



This is an all-around great special that any and all Muppet fans--or just people who like to sing, and dance, and make people happy--can enjoy.

THE DVD
This DVD proudly boasts an "Extended Edition" tag in big, bold letters on the front of the case. Yes, the film's run-time is extended from the original broadcast, but just by about four minutes. The other extended clips come in the form of hysterical bloopers and the "Glad All Over" music video (seen last year on YouTube) after and during the credits. While the bloopers are absolutely laugh out loud funny, it's a shame that they can only be seen during the credits and not as a separate feature.

The other "extended" scenes in the film only last about 30-40 seconds longer, most of them just quick asides or character lines. These are fun, but really don't make the movie "extended."

The only other bonus feature on the disc is The Muppet Stocking Stuffer Smorgasbord. This acts as another menu where there are many items to select from, such as ornaments on the tree, stockings, and presents. There are four deleted scenes here (two involving snails and snail mail, one where Claire gives her letter to Gonzo, and one where the Electric Mayhem says where they're going for the holidays), a series of still pictures, and five short interviews (with Madison Pettis [and Gonzo briefly], Jane Krakowski, Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo, and Miss Piggy).

The bonus features are very sparse and don't offer much in the way of comedy. Yes, seeing Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Piggy ad-lib a little bit in the interviews is fun, but the interviews were obviously trimmed down from longer clips so it would've been nice to see them in their entirety. There was also an announced "behind the scenes documentary" called "Searching for Santa Claus" that somehow didn't make the release, so that was quite disappointing as well.

The cover art is fun and vibrant, standing out on the shelf at Wal-Mart as I passed (although, to be fair, I was looking for it). The collectible O-Sleeve that was advertised (and made fun of at Tough Pigs) is nothing more than the cardboard they use to cover the actual DVD case. However, this may be a telling sense of how Disney views the Muppets, because as I left the store the only other releases I saw with O-Sleeves were Disney classics such as The Jungle Book and Pinocchio. Perhaps I'm just looking too much into it, but I liked the idea.



CONCLUSION

Buy this DVD! Not only is it a fantastic Christmas special, it's a fantastic Muppet special as well. The characters are as hilarious as ever, the writing is fun and funny, and everything about this is pure Muppet gold. And, besides, it's the first Muppet DVD buying opportunity Muppet fans have had since The Muppet Show Season 3 was released two years ago!

Buy your own copy of A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa on DVD today!

5 comments:

  1. Do you plan to review the new Henson blu-ray releases? Are they worth getting?

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  2. If I had a Blu-Ray player I would most definitely be getting them and doing a review, but unfortunately I don't! I'll see if any of my sources are getting them and if they'd like to write a review.

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  3. Great review. My copy is coming soon. Can't wait. I actually need a little bit of early Christmas cheer - even if it comes from emo-Gonzo. ;)

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  4. Further proof that even Bob Iger (who is NOT a horse's hind-quarters and IS better than Eisner) DOES care about the Muppets, despite what some of the more nihilistic Muppet fans (such as Dr. Tooth) may think!

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  5. In the country where I live (holland, :( that's pretty doomed) you can't get that DVD.
    Aww... that's so annoying, really!

    ReplyDelete