Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Muppets Most WantedAs production winds down on their comeback tour, The Muppets realise that the cameras are still rolling and conclude that they must be doing a sequel. While spit-balling ideas, Kermit (Steve Whitmire) and the gang take manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) up on his offer of a European tour, and embark on their first show in Berlin, Germany. Cue a break-out at a remote Siberian GULAG, where the world’s most dangerous frog (and Kermit lookalike), Constantine (Matt Vogel), has just escaped into the tundra. With Badguy taking over on set by indulging every whim of Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear and Gonzo, Kermit goes for a walk to clear his head, only to be mistaken for the criminal mastermind and whisked off to prison. Constantine and Badguy are using the shows as covers for a series of robberies, while Kermit is asked by GULAG officer Nadya (Tina Fey) to put on a special performance for the staff.

2012’s The Muppets was something of an unexpected sensation. It proved that, even in a cinematic landscape dominated by photorealistic CGI, 3D computer animation and superhero mega-franchises, there was still an appetite for Kermit the Frog and his old-fashioned brand of entertainment — and, importantly, one that went beyond simple nostalgia. The first film (actually the seventh overall) combined irreverent humour with catchy songs and clever cameos to hilarious effect, while simultaneously grounding itself emotionally with a meta-plot that mirrored the brand’s real-life revival and performances from Jason Segel (who also boasted a writing credit) and Amy Adams that brought real warmth to the material.

Despite picking up where the first film left off, Segel and Adams are nowhere to be seen (though you ostensibly glimpse the back of their heads during the reprieve of ‘Life Is A Happy Song’ which ended the last movie), and the film almost immediately embarks on a narrative tangent that isn’t nearly as shrewd or satisfying. From the very outset it is clear that something important is missing, and though it’s impossible to say for sure that it is Segel’s input, his and Adams’ characters are certainly missed. The songs, the gags and the dialogue are — in and of themselves — just as clever, but as a whole it all seems strangely hollow and half-baked. Despite the continued involvement of Bret McKenzie, the soundtrack just isn’t as memorable as The Muppets‘, and no single song makes the same impact as ‘Man or Muppet’. The cameos, meanwhile, seem forced and largely superfluous, with Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais wearing incredibly thin in the key human roles.

There are occasional sparks of genius, however, and in many ways that’s what makes Muppets Most Wanted so incredibly frustrated. When it begins to look like The Muppets might once again be at their end, characters lament that they’ve just spent a whole movie putting the team back together again. The opening number, meanwhile, though largely forgettable, warns that sequels are rarely as good as the original. The supporting characters are often the funniest, and here it’s not Kermit or Miss Piggy that get the biggest laughs but Sam the Eagle. In a well-handled homage to The Pink Panther, Sam appears as a CIA agent forced to work with Ty Burrell’s Interpol officer, though they spend most of their time comparing increasingly unwieldy badges and trying to squeeze into microscopic European cars. Though the idea that Europeans are lazy and largely useless is a little unfair, the subplot is too ridiculous to cause any real offense. This is a Muppets movie, after all.

Though not without its moments, Muppets Most Wanted is for the most part a crushing disappointment. It’s not simply that the jokes aren’t as funny, it’s that the film seems to miss the point. The joy of The Muppets has always been the artifice, the knowledge that you are watching puppets adding to the sense of fun and anarchy, yet here by showing the Muppets jumping about the screen, forming Muppet ladders and engaging in fight scenes returning director James Bobin inadvertently shatters the illusion, and you are no longer under the Muppets’ unique spell.



About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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