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In the opening musical number of the movie, the Muppets warn us that sequels usually aren’t as good as the original. The comment proves to be prophetic. Muppets Most Wanted doesn’t ever feel as fun or lighthearted as The Muppets, the 2011 reboot of the franchise. Maybe it’s because Kermit spends most of his time in a Russian labor camp. Or that Ricky Gervais has to play the straight man to the famous puppets. Either way, this script falls a little short on the charm and silliness we’ve come to expect from these furry characters.
Still most fans won’t be too disappointed with this latest adventure. After a successful reunion in The Muppets, the troupe is deciding what to do next. Kermit (voice of Steve Whitmire) suggests they keep working in their newly renovated theater. But the rest of the cast gets stars in their eyes when they are approached by concert promoter Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais). He wants to take the show on a world tour. Reluctantly Kermit agrees.
The frog’s worries are confirmed when they make their first stop in Berlin. After having a small black mole slapped on his face by assailants, Kermit is instantly mistaken for the world’s most dangerous criminal, Constantine (voice by Matt Vogel) and hauled off to prison in a Hannibal Lector getup. Meanwhile Constantine covers his own mole with a little green paint and pretends to be Kermit.
It’s obvious there is more fluff than brains in the Muppets’ heads when they fail to notice Kermit’s new accent and his unusual willingness to let them do whatever they want with their acts. But Constantine and Dominic aren’t interested in the entertainment enterprise. They are only using the performers as a front so they can pull off criminal heists in the adjacent buildings. Back in the Siberian gulag, Kermit repeatedly tries to explain who he really is. However the prison warden (Tina Fey) refuses to let him go. Instead she coerces him into directing the annual prison talent night.
Saying this Muppet outing doesn’t live up to its potential certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining. There is still plenty of goofy, slapstick comedy for the kids, and a parade of cameo appearances and adult humor for the grownups. Yet Constantine’s accent makes it hard to catch all of the jokes. And the use of explosions, a Taser and guns ratchet up the content in this crime story from the usual rubber chicken prop brandished by Fozzie Bear (voice of Eric Jacobson).
Like most Muppet adventures, this one comes with some simple, and worthwhile, life lessons. If things look too good to be true, they probably are. Family is important. And sometimes getting what we want doesn’t make us happy after all.
Muppets Most Wanted is rated PG: for some mild action.
Director: James Bobin
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell
Studio: 2014 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Website: Official site for Muppets Most Wanted.