MUPPETS MOST WANTED
**** (out of 5)
March 21, 2014
Kermit the Frog as HIMSELF
Miss Piggy as HERSELF
Fozzie Bear as HIMSELF
Gonzo the Great as HIMSELF
Sam Eagle as HIMSELF
Animal as HIMSELF
Ricky Gervais as DOMINIC BADGUY
Ty Burrell as JEAN PIERRE NAPOLEON
Tina Fey as NADYA
Directed by: James Bobin
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Sequels are tricky. They are often not as good as the previous film. They struggle to find something to do for all the characters. They often rely on the good will of what came before them to justify their existence. The Muppets know this, and they go as far to point it out in the opening of “Muppets Most Wanted.” It is this meta-references and winking at the audience that has always made the brand fun.
After 2011’s “The Muppets” did well but not phenomenal, I’m glad to see that Disney had enough faith in their property to make another movie. And as much as I enjoyed “The Muppets,” there was one beef I had with that film that is fixed in this one… “The Muppets” wasn’t really about the Muppets.
In the first film, the Muppets were a focal point, and the real story belonged to Jason Segel and Amy Adams. I’m sure Amy Adams is a wonderful person, and she’s a gorgeous and talented actress. However, she’s not a Muppet. Jason Segel is more like a Muppet, but he’s still flesh and blood. Leaving them behind was a smart move for the sequel. This allowed for a Muppet movie that was actually about the Muppets themselves.
Sure, there are several human actors with major parts in this movie – namely Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell – but they are the supporting actors to the plush stars, which is how it should be in a Muppet movie. And they all seem okay with it because, hey, it’s the Muppets. Acting against Kermit the Frog (or Fozzie Bear or Sam Eagle) should be a dream for any actor. (And it doesn’t hurt having Burrell as an INTERPOL officer butting heads with Sam Eagle from the CIA. Anyone else out there get the feeling that Burrell was auditioning to be the new Inspector Clouseau in this role?)
The story to “Muppets Most Wanted” takes a decidedly wackier turn than the previous film. Similar to how “The Great Muppet Caper” followed up “The Muppet Movie” in 1981, this movie goes for the heist approach. Following their comeback, the Muppets embark on an international tour with a shady new manager named Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais). However, he has other plans for them as he helps Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog, to escape prison, kidnap Kermit and throw him in a Russian gulag. It’s up to the rest of the Muppets to save Kermit and prevent Dominic and Constantine from pulling off the biggest jewel heist in history.
While it’s different from the Muppet movies I saw as a child, this film has the same charm and irreverence I’ve come to expect from these fuzzy little guys. There’s oodles of celebrity cameos, toe-tapping music and jokes sophisticated enough to go over the kids’ heads and make the grown-ups laugh. Even though it’s not tugging at the heartstrings the way “The Muppets” did two and a half years ago, “Muppets Most Wanted” captures the feel and warmth of the original “Muppet Show.” In a way, it feels like a two-hour sketch from that series, and that makes me smile.
I grew up with the Muppets, and they’ve hit some rough patches over the years, but “Muppets Most Wanted” makes me realize that some things can continue to be charming and inspiring even after almost 60 years. “Muppets Most Wanted” is a film the whole family can enjoy without it being overly sanitized or corny. It’s classic Muppets in a whole new light.