Muppets Most Wanted: The Muppets Will Not Go Quietly Into the Night
Sometimes it seems like the Muppets are like chocolate, feijoada, or (for me at least) Star Trek. Even the bad ones are better than none at all. Muppets Most Wanted is not the best Muppet movie, but it is very far from the worst.
I very much enjoyed Muppets Most Wanted, though not to quite the same level as The Muppets. That isn't a dig against the movie. Everything simply can't be at exactly the same level. Muppets Most Wanted is still a great and, maybe even more importantly, truly fun, funny and entertaining movie.
Like a batch of feijoada that may not be the best you've ever tasted but still very much hits the spot.
Oh, man, now I really want a plate of feijoada. You happy now?
But first, the story
We start at the end. Or, more specifically, we join the gang just as they've finished filming The Muppets, and they decide—as all life decisions should be made: in a large production number—to film a sequel. They're approached by a man named Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) who wishes to co-manage the Muppets on a European tour.
Meanwhile, in a Siberian gulag, we're treated to a daring breakout scene involving one dangerous silhouette that looks surprisingly like a certain famous green guy whose name rhymes with Hermit the Hog.
Anyway, good old Dermit the Dog (Steve Whitmire), is having a tough time when it looks like the rest of the gang seems to prefer Dominic's advice over his. But after a run-in with the hooded silhouette from earlier, his day goes from bad to worse. And then worser.
The bad guys run the show, both literally and figuratively, while CIA agent Sam the Eagle (Eric Jacobson) and Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) begrudgingly team up to solve a series of thefts that seems to be mysteriously following the Muppets' tour; and gulag guard Nadya (Tina Fey) does whatever the Russian version of her darndest is to keep Kermit from making his way back to his pals.
Dot dot dot
For a bunch of felt, fur, and feathers, there's ironically plenty of life left in the Muppets. Not every movie can hit the same level of quality, but Muppets Most Wanted proves that they're still serious contenders.
The humor is constant and varied. The story is simple but nuanced. And while not all the songs (once again by Flight of the Conchords' Oscar winning [you read that right] Bret McKenzie) are as instantly classic and hum-able as those from The Muppets, they work just fine, have plenty of funny moments, and there are a couple which I did very much like and will probably buy the soundtrack for. (Yeah, that was a preposition I ended that sentence with. You wanna make something about it in?)
Muppets Most Wanted trailer
One thing that Muppets Most Wanted definitely has over The Muppets is the story. There was nothing wrong with the story last time. In fact, all things considered, the story was actually pretty great. But the movie was made with an obvious and clear agenda. The Muppets hadn't been in the theaters for years, and the filmmakers designed a movie specifically to address the re-introduction of the gang to the public.
This time around, it's refreshing to see them simply tell a fun and interesting story without the Agenda of Damocles hanging over their head. The "let's remind everyone who the Muppets are" story was a great way to appeal even to those who weren't already Muppet fans, but this one is definitely for the fans.
And I dare you to count all of the celebrity cameos. Several are blink-and-you-miss-it (like Tom Hiddleston as The Great Escapo or Mackenzie Crook as a museum guard) and some, like in most Muppet movies, play caricatured versions of themselves (like Lady Gaga or Salma Hayek). But the Muppets always seem to pull celebrities out of the woodwork.
My theory is that the Muppets just set up shop outside other movie studios and have any celebrity who's interested come out on their lunch break and film a hilarious gag or give the camera a sly, knowing look and a smile.
But what do you think of the movie?
Bottom line, you should go see Muppets Most Wanted if you have kids, or are just a kid at heart ... or maybe a kid at brain ... or maybe just have kidneys? I think I went off track there, but you should still go see it.
For me, this one gets a strong, solid 7 / 10.
Muppets Most Wanted is rated PG for a few sequences of mild action.