The Muppets return for an international adventure in Muppets Most Wanted! But does the film match the fun of the last film or fall short of that mark? 411's Jeffrey Harris checks in with his full review!
Directed By: James Bobin Written By: James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller Runtime: 112 minutes MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild action
Ricky Gervais - Dominic Badguy Jean Pierre Napoleon - Ty Burrell Nadya - Tina Fey Kermit the Frog Constantine Miss Piggy Walter Fozzie Bear Gonzo the Great Animal Scooter Sam the Eagle Statler and Waldorf Rowlf the Dog Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem Bunsen and Beaker Danny Trejo - Himself Big Papa - Ray Liotta Prison King - Jemaine Clement Prisoner One - Hornswoggle Hobo Joe - Zach Galifianakis
The Muppets are back for another rip-roaring adventure with Muppets Most Wanted. Following the events of their triumphant return in 2011’s aptly titled The Muppets, the gang wrap filming on the movie’s ending feel good number and try to figure out what’s next. Well according to the opening number, “We’re Doing a Sequel.” While I think Muppets Most Wanted doesn't really surpass the touching, emotional nostalgia of The Muppets, it’s still a very fun, entertaining film appropriate for the whole family.
In Muppets Most Wanted, the gang is back, but now they need to figure out what to do next. A shady tour manager by the name of Dominic Badguy (Gervais) convinces the group that should go on a world tour. Kermit’s not really keen on the idea and wants everyone to hone their acts before they can start a tour, but at everyone’s insistence, Kermit goes along with it. Unfortunately for Kermit, Badguy is the world’s No. 2 thief and in the employ of the world’s most dangerous frog and No. 1 thief, Constantine, a frog Muppet who looks just like Kermit. After Constantine escapes from imprisonment at his Siberian gulag, he and Badguy frame Kermit and pull the old switcheroo. Poor Kermit is imprisoned in the gulag, and Constantine takes his place. Other than Animal, the Muppets are none the wiser that their leader and the heart and soul of their group has been left to rot in prison.
Meanwhile, Badguy and Constantine use the Muppets' tour to plan a massive heist in order to steal England’s crown jewels and let the Muppets take the rap for the crimes. And Kermit has problems of his own dealing with the gulag’s moody warden, Nadya (Fey), who is actually a Kermit-obsessed stalker fan. In addition, CIA Agent Sam Eagle is on the trail of Badguy and Constantine’s crimes and reluctantly teams up with French Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Burrell). In short, we get a nice little Muppet version of a globe-trotting thriller.
Many of the crew responsible for the Muppets’ revival in 2011 have returned for this film, sans Jason Segel and Amy Adams. James Bobin returns to direct the sequel along with co-writer Nicholas Stoller. Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords-fame returns to supply the film’s original songs, since this is a musical. Compared to the last movie, Muppets Most Wanted plays like a much more organically-structured musical than the last film, with more frequent musical numbers. The songs and numbers are very well done, but for some reason, none of them really hit it out of the park for me as much as say “Life’s A Happy Song” from the 2011 movie. Not to say the songs were bad, there was just a bit less je ne sais quoi here.
In terms of direction, Bobin clearly seems to be having a lot of fun with the change in style for this film. The action sequences involving Constantine and his recurring use of explosions are quite hysterical. The movie itself is quite a compelling mash-up, and the Muppets do get a much larger focus this time around as Gary and Mary have left the cast. Fozzie does get to do a lot more in the third act as well, and he has one of the most amusing sight gags in the entire film.
Ultimately and at the risk of sounding cynical, but there’s a bit of a lazy storyline moment toward the end that came off as rather contrived and pedestrian. It was particularly tiresome having just seen a similarly-played scene in a CG-animated movie that just came out. It’s not as if Muppets Most Wanted is the only movie guilty of lifting this type of sequence, but here it looked out of place and like there could have been a more organic resolution to this particular conflict.
Besides that, this is a delightful, enjoyable Muppets adventure. For fans of big celebrity cameos, they are rampant throughout this movie and borderline excessive. Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta, and even WWE's Hornswoggle have amusing appearances as prisoners of the Siberian gulag as well as participate in the great musical number, "The Big House." There are enough cameos here to make Anchorman 2 jealous. This is a great movie for families to see together to just kick back and enjoy an old school, Muppet good time.
The 411: Muppets Most Wanted is very good, adequate follow-up to The Muppets. As a musical, it's paced and structured a lot more traditionally and works very well. The change in style is very welcome, but at the same time, there was a bit more of an emotional core in The Muppets that worked a tad better. Overall, this was a very enjoyable Muppets adventure that I recommend for the whole family. And do not leave during the credits.