MUPPETS MOST WANTED
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta
In 2011, The Muppets came back to the big screen in an all new adventure thanks to Jason Segel and director James Bobin. It was wonderful to see Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the gang reaching a whole new audience of moviegoers of all ages. The whole gang of Muppets plus Bobin, screenwriter Nicholas Stoller, and composer Bret McKenzie are back for a new global adventure.
Picking up at the exact same moment the last film ended, the Muppets are excited about the prospects of making a sequel and even sing a little song about it aptly titled “We’re Doing a Sequel”. Their new tour manager Dominic Badguy (Gervais) suggests going on a world tour to ride on their success. Kermit is a bit hesitant and thinks they need to polish their act first. What they don’t know is that Dominic is secretly working with Constantine “The World’s Most Dangerous Frog” who bears a striking resemblance to Kermit. Kermit gives in to Dominic, and the Muppets head out on the road for their world tour.
Constantine escapes from a Siberian prison and Kermit is mistakenly arrested instead and sent back to the prison. Constantine poses as Kermit on the tour trying to mimic his voice and mannerisms despite having a thick Russian accent. Fellow Muppets Animal and Walter are the only ones that seem hesitant and suspicious of Constantine’s behavior. Dominic takes the Muppets to these dusty dingy theaters that just happen to be located near historic museums and banks. Throughout The Muppets performances, Dominic and Constantine are pulling off heists and burglaries looking for a set of instructions leading them to the Crown Jewels. CIA member Sam Eagle and Interpol’s Jean Pierre Napoleon (Burrell) are put on the case to track down and identify these con artists.
It is no secret that there is a new helm of writers, puppeteers, and actors taking over the beloved Muppets universe that Jim Henson and Frank Oz created. There is that specific touch and vision that those two had with their characters that cannot be replicated. A special magic and feeling is missing in the writing of the past two movies. I feel like there is a general wash over how to write for some of the side characters. Each one of the Muppets has a unique personality and can be funny on their own accord, but many of them are just lumped together here as part of the larger group. The jokes even fall flat for the Statler and Waldorf, the two grumpy critics who always have the best punch lines. I would have loved to have seen more of Janice, Gonzo, The Swedish Chef, and Animal. I may be getting a bit too picky here, because what matters is the spirit of these characters. Their essence and core are still present. Unlike the Jason Segel remake, this film does a better job at making them the focus over the human actors. The love story between Kermit and Miss Piggy is as present as always as planning for their wedding becomes a part of the story.
I feel like only a Muppet movie could get so many well known actors and musicians making silly cameos or even appearing in small and RANDOM roles. I don’t want to spoil too many names here as pointing them out is half the fun of the movie. Some play themselves while others appear as prisoners, delivery men, etc… I would really like to know how much they had to pay Danny Trejo and Ray Liotta to sign on to do a song and dance number from A Chorus Line. They play two prisoners under Tina Fey’s reign who are assigned to perform in the prison talent show. Maybe it’s just the lure and nostalgic appeal to being in a Muppets movie, but it was so random and out of character for those two known for their tough exteriors.
Muppets Most Wanted is a good wholesome family film and provides some good laughs along the way. I think the bits between Sam Eagle and Ty Burrell are quite funny as they always try to top each other. Bret McKenzie won an Oscar for his song “Man or Muppet” from the last film and has written more delightful songs for this one, especially one with Miss Piggy’s Fairy Godmother. While it may not be the best Muppet movie in the series, it’s hard to not have a good time when Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and the rest of the gang can put a smile on your face. It’s a true testament to the genius mind of Henson and Oz that even under different hands (literally), these characters have stood the test of time.
Is it worth your trip to the movies? Yes. It’s great having the Muppets and Jim Henson’s creations back in the limelight again reaching a new younger audience. Hopefully it will inspire young moviegoers to go back and rewatch the old movies and classic TV show.
RATING: 3 out of 5 Ticket Stubs