Often family Christmas movies, while ambitious, often miss the mark with a weak story or bad acting. I was worried that a Muppet Christmas movie would follow in these footsteps. Additionally, some of the previous Muppet movies fell short of the comedic styling that resonated within a generation of kids like myself whom grew up with the Muppet Show. Thankfully I was disappointed on both accounts.
It’s a Very Merry Muppet Movie holds it’s own against the best of the family Christmas movies and in my mind riv…ls, if not surpasses, the best family Christmas flick ever – A Christmas Story. What makes a great family movie? A film that has something that appeals to the kids and their parents alike. This movie delivers on both and actually if there is a criticism to be made – it may appeal more to the adults than the kids with numerous pop culture references that a kid just may not get. For example, the Muppet Christmas production is a very funny parody of Moulin Rouge called Moulin Scrooge. I laughed far more watching that scene than my daughter did.
The story is basically an homage to Charles Dicken’s a Christmas Carol with Joan Cusack playing a fantastic female Scrooge type character who forces the closure of the Muppet Theater on Christmas Eve, with plans to use the building to open a bar which would be more profitable. Kermit becomes very despondent after a final attempt to pay off the debt fails, due to an unintentional mistake by Fozzy. As the entire Muppet crew has been such a positive force in the lives of many children, their misfortune does not go unnoticed by the powers that be. An angel, in the form of David Arquette takes a very serious interest in the Muppet’s predicament and supercedes the orders of his superior (William Macy) and takes it straight to God, played very smoothly by Whoopie Goldberg. She takes notice and sends Arquette to Earth to aid Kermit. His arrival however, does not immediately solve all of their problems, in fact in makes it worse. In Kermit’s frustration he shouts, “I wish I were never born!” Arquette grants this request in the form of a Dicken’s ghost of the present in which Kermit were never born. There are some hilarious alternate versions of the Muppets shown here including Beaker as a buff bouncer, Fozzy as a pick pocket and Miss Piggy as a Ms. Cleo–like telephone psychic. This results in Kermit realizing what’s most important in his life and a return to his present reality to deal with his problems as best he can with the support of his friends.
This is a great full screen presentation with solid vibrant colors and sharpness of picture… considering that this is a made for TV movie. Much of the action takes place on the streets on Christmas eve, there is obviously a lot of contrast of white on black with no noticeable distortion.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Soundtrack is solid. While there is not great use of the surround speakers, there is solid sound coming out of the centers and right and left speakers. In the scene at the bar, there is techno music being played with great use of bass effects. The dialogue is crisp and easily understood.
I was very surprised by the quality of the extras. “Inside Pepe’s Studio” which has Pepe the King Prawn interviewing the director Kirk Thatcher in a theater setting in front of an audience. I don’t recall ever seeing Pepe in the old shows and am assuming he is a recent edition. Basically he is a shrimp with the attitude and sound of Ren from Ren and Stimpy. He is absolutely hilarious and in the movie, steals every scene he is in. He spends most of the interview insulting the director and his fellow “Muppins” (as he consistently mispronounces “Muppets”) as he compliments himself. Priceless.
The following extras are all prefaced as part of the interview with Pepe asking Kirk Thatcher what Outtakes and deleted scenes are. The outtakes are similar in caliber to those seen at the end of Pixar movies – absolutely hilarious. Jim Henson’s crew are so good at ad-libbing they should have an improv show. The deleted scenes flesh out the story a bit more but once again it is the insults uttered by Pepe that make this worth watching. Finally there are some Muppet bios of everyone’s favorite Muppets including Kermit, Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo and Pepe. Once again Pepe’s bio far outshines the others.
Let’s hope that the next Muppet movie will have as much care paid to the story and overall feeling that this one has.This is a must have for anyone who wants a good solid family Christmas movie with a great story that parodies almost every Christmas movie out there. There is definitely something here for the adults as well as the kids and the extras will have the entire family laughing out loud.
A cameo by everyone’s favorite Muppet Jedi Master doesn’t hurt either!
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- Outtakes and Bloopers
- Inside Pepe’s Studio Featurette
- Fun Easter Eggs