Muppets Most Wanted, Kermit and friend’s latest big-screen adventure, opens with an epic, infectious musical number titled “We’re Doing a Sequel”. It may be the film’s highlight; it’s an elaborate, show-stopping sing-along with cameos, comedy, and obscure movie in-jokes abound. “We’re doin’ a sequel/That’s what we do in Hollywood!”, sing Kermit and Fozzie Bear. “And everybody knows that the sequel’s never quite as good!” Unfortunately, that last line rings true of the film.
In 2011, Disney re-united the gang for The Muppets, a sentimental reunion adventure that also starred Jason Segel and Amy Adams, plus Walter, a new Muppet. The film wasn’t a monster success but it was an immensely entertaining movie and the perfect way to introduce the Muppets to a new generation. This time around, the reunion plot is out of the way, so the filmmakers could’ve gone in any direction.
Muppets Most Wanted scraps all of it’s predecessor’s story lines (and human characters) for an international caper/prison-break musical. The film begins with The Muppets signing Dominic Badguy (Rickey Gervais) as manager for an upcoming world tour. Dominic, who happens to be an evil criminal, quickly takes control from a sad-faced Kermit. Before long, Dominic’s amphibian partner Constantine swaps places with Kermit, who ends up in a Siberian prison lead by Nadya (Tina Fey). The rest of the group doesn’t notice anything, of course, so it’s up to Kermit to escape from prison and prove Dominic and Constantine as criminals.
With top-notch musical numbers, a suitably bizarre plot, and an all-star cast of comedians, the right ingredients are all here (it’s a Muppets movie for goodness sake!). But despite some fantastic elements the parts never really come together. Let’s start with the major issue: the script. There’s simply too much going on as the movie cuts between four plot-lines: Kermit in prison, the Muppets’ world tour, Dominic and Constantine’s epic heist plans, and a comedic-sub-plot involving an Interpol inspector (Ty Burrell) and CIA detective Sam the Eagle. It’s too bad the screenwriters didn’t give all these threads enough time to develop. Unfortunately, the whole movie feels like a lesser re-tread of previous Muppets outings.
A cluttered script isn’t the film’s only problem: The climactic sequence drags, individual Muppets don’t have enough to do, some of the jokes fall flat etc.
Still, there’s plenty of reasons to be entertained by Most Wanted. Not all the one-liners works but this is a Muppets movie and there are plenty of moments throughout to keep you laughing. The human cast, while not as interesting as last time, features a truly top-notch roster of comedians. Rickey Gervais, Tina Fey, and Ty Burrell are all wonderful in small, comedic roles (who knew all three could sing!?). The puppeteering here is also pretty phenomenal, as our furry stars manage more elaborate hilarious stunts than ever before.
Like its predecessor, Most Wanted is a full fledged musical (a rarity these days). While not quite as wittily written as The Muppets, the musical number’s are still contagiously fun. Songwriter/actor Bret McKenzie’s songs draw on 60’s girl groups, 70’s disco, and classic show tunes to create a pastiche of infectious pop fun.
It’s too long, too cluttered, and too unoriginal but Muppets Most Wanted manages to serve up enough bizarre Muppets mayhem to keep you entertained. Director James Bobin keeps the laughs funny, the songs catchy, and the action exciting. I’ll take the Muppets over The Lego Movie any day. Waka-waka!