Friday, March 30, 2012

The Muppets - The Wocka Wocka Value Pack

 


There are some movies you just can’t wait to be released for home viewing, and The Muppet’s is one of those movies.  By the time we recorded Episode 48 of the Disney Film Project Podcast, I had already seen the movie more than once, and I was itching to see it again.  It’s just one of those movies, from a franchise that I’ve loved since I was little, that I would have bought the movie right there in the theater on the way out had there been someone to sell it to me.  So when March 20th rolled around I was excited to be getting a copy.

The Wocka Wocka Value Pack has everything.  No literally.  It provides you with a Blu-ray copy, a DVD copy, a Digital copy, and the Soundtrack.  The first two are provided as physical discs you can watch in your Blu-ray or DVD player.  The Digital copy and Soundtrack will be delivered to you through the use of a code you can enter online at DisneyMovieRewards.com.  For prior movies, the “Disney Digital” copy was unlocked via a third disc, so doing this just via code is new to me (correction: there is a third disc - it's hidden under the DVD).  As I bought the soundtrack back when the movie was released, that code isn’t as valuable to me.

The Blu-ray is able to be experienced in one of four languages: English (also the default), English w/ Descriptive Video Service (allows for the blind or visually impaired to experience the movie), French, and Spanish.  While it’s starting up you’re presented with “exciting” previews: Disney Studio All Access (Disney’s answer to Netflix), Brave (the movie I’m second most excited about right now), and then some upcoming Blu-ray releases: Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 (save me), and Disney Secret of the Wings - the upcoming and all new Disney Fairy Movie.  Later on if you watch the Sneak Peeks you’re also presented with an ad for DisneyMovieRewards.com as well as previews for A.N.T. Farm, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, the Aristocats Blu-ray release (Episode 58), and the upcoming Cars (Episode 17) spin-off Planes.

The menu for the movie is worth watching as it brings you back to the idea of the Muppets viewing their own movie that was presented back in the original The Muppet Movie. Here we see the Muppets finding their seats including Kermit, Animal, Piggy, Fozzie, and others.  The menu ends and resets when Animal decides to eat the camera.  

The bonus features are funny and very Muppets.  Scratching the Surface : A Hasty Examination of the Making of The Muppets comes first.  It starts out with a factual error about Muppet movies claiming that only 7 have been made - The Muppets was the 9th Muppet Movie.  It goes through the Muppets talking about how excited they are to be on a set making a movie again - with the possible exception of Miss Piggy who typically talks down the other Muppets.  We get to meet Jay G, the Production Muppet who is also apparently narcoleptic. It’s a completely cute and silly look at the making of movies.  My greatest takeaway was the Uncle Deadly talking about how he gets to haunt the theater two days a week to give a break to its primary haunt since the Muppet set was built in the same soundstage as the 1924 Phantom of the Opera.

Next up is The Longest Blooper Reel Ever Made (Well at least in Muppet History *we think) which is just your typical blooper reel combined with some intenional Muppet touches.  The bonus feature I found very funny was A Little Screen Test on the way to The Read-Through.  Here we have Jason and Walter walking through the “studio” on their way to their first read-through for the movie script.  We have some typical Walter awkwardness where we learn that he wrote his lines on his hands with a Sharpie.  Then we go through a series with them and the other Muppets and various camera angles and lighting styles as we’re told this is really just a screen test.  We learn that apparently Rowlf is illiterate, and it ends with The Muppet Show Theme.

If there was anything we complained about more when reviewing this movie originally it was Disney’s choice to cut out the backstory for the Tex Richman character.  If you remember the song from the movie Let’s Talk About Me which is sort of the Tex Richman theme song, you might have thought that in the movie it’s a bit short like something is missing, while that’s because it was cut.  The bonus feature Explaining Evil: The Full Tex Richman Song presents you with the full uncut version of the song. In it you can learn the the “heartbreaking story” about his own 10th Birthday Party made him evil and it was all the fault of the Muppets and his inability to laugh.

Then we finally get to what is always one of my favorite bonus features, the Deleted Scenes.  We’re presented with Walter’s Extended Nightmare which is an extended version of the dream Walter has in the beginning of the movie.  We then get an extra missing verse from Life’s a Happy Song which was a depressing piece by Walter about being “incomplete”.  We see a scene where Walter and Gary think they meet the real “Superman”, but really it’s just a bald, sweaty guy - the point of the scene would actually been to introduce us to Walter’s amazing whistling earlier in the film.  We get to see another made up TV show called Credit Card Club which is a simultaneous play on several teen movies and television shows.

Then we’re presented with some deleted scenes that are out of order, which I’m not a fan of.  Context goes hand in hand with chronology.  We get to see a scene where the Muppets are in prison and Walter bails them out as they were not in prison in the theatrical release this makes little sense.  The next scene is where we learn that the real problem with Gonzo’s bowling ball is that it was a Doctor Bunsen Honeydew special experiment as the bowling ball gains sentience and flies off after Beaker.  We are reminded by Kermit once more that, “the Muppets have always been about Artistic Integrity and not cheap tricks”.  In the next scene we finally get the context of the Muppets being in jail - it was because one of their ploys to get a host for their telethon was to fake The Oscars.  This eventually broken up by Billy Crystal and the police who arrest the Muppets.  And we learn that after the Muppet Telethon opening there was some follow up dialog that was cut.

The Blu-ray also includes all of the various theatrical spoof trailers that were at the core of the viral marketing campaign for The Muppets.  At least one of these was not released to the public prior.  Due to time constraints, I had to forego the Audio Commentary feature where I could listen to the stars of the movie talk about the movie as I watch.  But it’s something I intend to get back to.  

Everything I’ve said aside, the one feature you need to watch on this Blu-ray is the “Disney Intermission Feature”.  It is only accessible by first starting to watch the movie and then pressing your pause button.  At this point an get to see the curtains to the Muppet theater with a sign above them that reads “INTERMISSION” in old style marquee lights.  At this point you go through a series of shorts, voice overs, and fun little bits.  My favorite of which is the “Intermission Dance Party” where several Muppets dance by on the screen and if finally ends in conga line of Muppets, Jason Segel, and chickens.  You are also presented with sneak peeks of the various bonus features I mentioned above.  

Overall this highly anticipated home theater release is worth it for Muppet fans everywhere.  If I have any complaints about the Blu-ray release, the first is that its creators missed their chance to spice up the Blu-ray menu by having the characters change according to your menu choices which is very common on Blu-ray menus these days.  Second is that this release does not contain enough Mahna Mahna.

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