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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/11/99

Muppets From Space
1999 (1999) - Columbia TriStar

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Muppets From Space Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A-/B+

Specs and Features

88 mins, G, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, "live" audio/video commentary (with Kermit the Frog, Gonzo, Rizzo the Rat, and director Tim Hill), Shining Star music video by The Dust Brothers (featuring Jeymes), theatrical and teaser trailers (plus 3 preview trailers for The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Storytellers), 19 outtakes, crew bios, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Close Captioned

Kermit: "That was fun! Way to get down with your bad selves!"

All right... let's just all fess up now. How many of you, like myself, grew up on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show? You remember Snuffleupagus, right? Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem? The two old guys in the balcony who bitch and moan all show long (Statler and Waldorf)? To this day, I can still sing practically every one of the songs from both shows: "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..." or "Why are there so many songs about rainbows...?" I look back at my childhood, and find that these characters are as familiar and welcoming as Mr. Rogers' comfy shoes. I mean, let's face it... Muppets kick ass. So what could be more fun than Muppets on DVD?

Muppets From Space is an engaging and light-hearted romp with most of our old friends, made fresh and new. The story here, is that Gonzo's feeling a little down in the dumps. Kermit's a frog, Fozzie's a bear, but Gonzo's a... whatever. He's getting a little lonely, and he'd like to figure out what he is and where he's from (given the title, can you guess?). Suddenly, he starts receiving mysterious messages from above and beyond - his extraterrestrial family is on the way. And that doesn't sit too well with the Government's top secret COVENET, which is charged with defending the Earth against alien attack. So Gonzo is kidnapped by COVENET for testing, and it's up to Kermit and friends to save him in time for the big reunion.

Kids will have a great time with this movie, and the walk down memory lane factor is more than enough to engage adults. The film's first big musical number, as the Muppet house wakes up and gets ready for breakfast, is great fun (set to Brick House by The Commodores). There are some very funny (and sly) jokes and references that only the older crowd will get (the newspaper Kermit reads is The Hensonville News Observer - a nod to late Muppet creator, Jim Henson). The Bits' own Frank Ortiz and I sat down to watch this movie, and we were thoroughly entertained. And there's a new character that I don't remember from the series, that consistently had us in stitches: a little shrimp-like guy named Pepe ("I am not a shrimp... I am king prawn!!"). Throw in some great cameos by F. Murray Abraham, Andie MacDowell, Josh Charles and David Arquette (just to name a few), and you've got a fun film for the whole family.

So how's the DVD? It's excellent, plain and simple. The anamorphic widescreen video is crisp and clear. Note that full frame video is also provided (on the disc's flip side) for those who prefer it. Color saturation and accuracy is excellent, and there is very good contrast and black level detail. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is also very good, and is surprisingly active. The dialogue is centered and natural, and there's good bass. And the film's soundtrack is a delight, featuring the aforementioned Commodores, The Dust Brothers, James Brown and more. All in all, this is very good DVD quality.

And the extras are pretty cool. As with the Ghostbusters DVD, you get a "live" commentary track, using the subtitle feature to include full-motion video along with the audio. The commentary features director Tim Hill, along with Muppets Gonzo, and Rizzo the Rat (Kermit the Frog also makes an appearance or two). This is offbeat stuff - definitely not your typical commentary, and well worth watching and listening to. Also included on this disc, are the film's theatrical and teaser trailers, as well as trailers for The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Storytellers. And you get a slew of funny outtakes - 19 in all - where the Muppets blow lines and the like. Finally, there are crew bios, and a music video for Shining Star by The Dust Brothers (featuring Jeymes... whoever that is).

Okay, so this isn't The Muppet Movie - which, by the way, REALLY ought to be on DVD by now thank you very much - but it's still good fun for all ages. And Columbia TriStar has delivered a fun disc, that's definitely worth a spin. Don't miss it.

Bill Hunt
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