The Muppet Movie Blu-ray
The Muppet Movie was a spectacular box office success when it was released back in 1979, giving us a quality plotline with Kermit and the gang and, startlingly, baring Kermit’s feet during an awesome scene featuring a bicycle. More than thirty years later, the film has become a classic, and Walt Disney Home Entertainment has really put a little love into the new Blu-ray set.
The Muppet Movie has been in print a slew of times, but this Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition marks the first time the film is available in Hi Definition. This doesn’t help us to emotionally identify with Kermit’s “Rainbow Connection” or his rendition of “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along” with Rowlf; however, when it comes to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem painting the old Studebaker with psychedelic colors, the picture really pops.
Disney’s sets are usually a visual treat, but The Muppet Movie Blu-ray offers a really nice menu page, several bonus features, and an intermission screen. It’s the latter I would like to talk about. If, for some reason, you need to pause the film and grab some popcorn or whatever, the movie goes into “Intermission” mode, which is a basically a giant animated sing-a-long that includes the lyrics to all of the songs.
The Muppets have made a big comeback in popular culture, thanks to Jason Segel’s recent film and a second movie in the works. While the new stuff has been an impressive continuation of the Muppets story, The Muppet Movie is near perfect, from its road trip format, to its music and its occasional ability to break the fourth wall. If you don’t already own a DVD copy of the film, the Nearly 35th Anniversary Blu-ray is the edition to get.
Best Special Feature: The movie was put together so long ago that there wasn’t a lot of extra footage filmed. It would have been nice to have seen some retrospective bonus features, but as it stands we do get some impressive (and lengthy) camera tests featuring Fozzie Bear tossing out schtick and Kermit responding with logic. You’d think these would be boring, but they are actually pretty funny.
Other Special Features:
Doc Hopper’s Commercial
Classic Bonus: Pepe Profiles Present Kermit-A Frog’s Life
The Big Wedding Blu-ray
There are moments during Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s brand new release, The Big Wedding, where audiences will think, “This should really be an enjoyable, easy movie.” The core cast is solid and the general idea of familial trouble at a wedding is feasible enough. Regardless, the overarching plot of two people pretending to be married for the sake of their adoptive son is nonsensical, and The Big Wedding never really gets over this initial hump.
Don (Robert DeNiro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton) have been divorced for a decade. Don’s been partnered with Bebe (Susan Saradon) for nearly that whole time, straining relations between himself and his ex, but they must all come together for a weekend wedding between their adoptive son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and his Catholic girlfriend Missy (Amanda Seyfried). Though relations are strained, things seem to be going fine until Alejandro hatches a harebrained scheme to have Don and Ellie pretend they are still married in order to save the feelings of his birth mother, who has decided to attend the wedding. Shenanigans and hurt feelings ensue, some of which are believable and some of which are unbelievable fluff.
Katherine Heigl and Topher Grace are a breath of fresh air in the picture, creating a believable brother and sister relationship based on poking fun at one another. They aren't the only two relationships that work in the movie, but they are the most exciting and I almost wish the two character's plotlines had been the focal point of the film. Then again, the fact that both Grace and Heigl have secondary plotlines within the film (he's a virgin, she's broken up with her husband) goes a long way to explain how convoluted and winding The Big Wedding gets before any weddings actually happen onscreen.
There's some promise in the movie, but mostly the entire weekend falls flat.
Best Special Feature: There’s really only one bonus feature with the disc. It’s a lengthy, behind-the-scenes featurette that discusses the making of the film. Most of this featurette follows the cast and crew talking about how Bob (DeNiro) was great and how awesome first time director Justin Zackham was with details. However, there are a few moments when the costuming and the actual wedding planning for the film is discussed, and if you are into these sorts of behind-the-scenes details, you’ll appreciate those portions of the featurette.
Additionally, if you are wondering how so much big talent got involved in this picture, apparently Keaton was the first to get on board. She convinced DeNiro, and the rest fell into place soon after.
Girls: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray
The second season of Girls is a little more zany and pulsating with the neuroses of its characters than the first. This time around, the girl crew, made up of Hannah (Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke), and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), are also split up a little more frequently, going off on their own paths to forge an identity for themselves. Jessa, notably, is missing for several episodes, but it’s the wedge between Marnie and Hannah that is more key to the plot in Season 2.
Girls has always been a show about awkward and self-involved characters from semi-privileged to privileged backgrounds eking it out in the wilds of Brooklyn with too much time to think. The show’s humor is driven from its writing, and Girls offers some heavy hitters, including Dunham herself, Jennifer Konner, and even Judd Apatow. The truthfulness of these 20-something characters YOLOing about New York City can’t be denied; still, their personalities and problems are geared toward a very specific audience.
Even if you’ve always been a big fan of the girls in Girls, Season 2 may not be as exciting as the first round at bat. I attribute this to the fact that Girls has lost its shock value in Season 2, even when Hannah is desperately running around and getting coke from a recovered junkie. Occasionally, audiences are forced to endure a scene that is so wacky it seems out of character for even the eccentric personalities on the show. For seasoned viewers, this stuff may come across as jarring rather than truly shocking.
Still, in many ways the characters have been true to their story arcs. The quiet moments we get with Hannah as she deals with her OCD have been truly terrifying and there have been plenty of them. Season 2 has been a big year for working out relationships but also kinks within the series itself and as the show matures into Season 3, we may get the best moments from Girls, yet.
Best Special Feature: Unlike poor Enlightened this week, HBO put together a set full of bells and whistles for Girls: The Complete Second Season. A full set of DVD copies of episodes is available along with the Blu-ray episodes. This is the sort of show that doesn’t really need high definition, though, so you would probably be alright if you just purchased the DVD.
I was actually a big fan of the “Guys on Girls” featurette when HBO first posted it, and I would still recommend giving the segment a shot.
Other Special Features:
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Episode 5 Table Read
“Charlie Rose interview with Lena Dunham”
Inside the Episodes Emily Nussbaum interviews Lena Dunham
Judy Collins Extended Scenes
The Swell Season (with special guest Daniel Johnston) – “Life in Vain”
Other August 13 releases
With TV’s fall season just over the horizon, there are a ton of big TV dramas and comedies available on DVD (and occasionally Blu-ray) this week. Additionally, fans can purchase Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, the explosive assault on the White House movie starring Morgan Freeman and Gerard Butler. You can check out more of this week’s releases, below.
Unless otherwise noted, releases are available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
What Maisie Knew
Family Ties: The Seventh Season DVD
The Mindy Project: Season 1 DVD
Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.
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