Movie Reviews

Muppets Most Wanted

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 7 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Ricky Gervais as Dominic Badguy
Ty Burrell as Jean Pierre Napoleon
Tina Fey as Nadya
Steve Whitmire as Kermit / Beaker / Statler / Rizzo / Newsman / Foo-Foo
Eric Jacobson as Miss Piggy / Fozzie Bear / Animal / Sam Eagle (voice)
Peter Linz as Walter (voice)
Dave Goelz as Gonzo / Dr. Bunsen Honeydew / Zoot / Beauregard / Waldorf (voice)
Bill Barretta as Swedish Chef / Rowlf / Dr. Teeth / Pepe the King Prawn / Bobo (voice)
Randa Nelson as Pizza Delivery Girl
David Rudman as Scooter / Janice / Bobby Benson / Wayne (voice)
Matt Vogel as Sgt. Floyd Pepper / Camilla / Sweetums / Lew Zealand / Crazy Harry / Robin / 80s Robot / Constantine (voice)
Salma Hayek as Herself
Danny Trejo as Danny Trejo
Ray Liotta
Zach Galifianakis as Hobo Joe
Jemaine Clement
Peter Serafinowicz

Directed by James Bobin

Summary:
Great songs, fun cameos, and jokes for kids and adults make “Muppets Most Wanted” worth checking out, even if the first two-thirds of the film are better than the last third.

Story:
Immediately after the previous film, the Muppets find themselves asking the question, "What will we do for a sequel?" On that cue, Dominic Badguy arrives on the scene offering the Muppets a chance to tour Europe. While Kermit doesn't think they are quite ready for such a show, the other Muppets pressure him into accepting. They then head overseas for a whirlwind tour.

However, Kermit's misgivings were well founded. It turns out that Dominic Badguy is really a bad guy (who knew??) and an associate of the most dangerous frog in the world, Constantine. By coincidence, Constantine looks almost exactly like Kermit except for a mole on his lip. After Constantine escapes from a Russian gulag, he quickly tracks down the Muppets and switches places with Kermit. Kermit is then sent back to the gulag while the Muppet tour continues.

Dominic and Constantine then use the Muppet tour as a cover for a string of burglaries, but will anyone notice that Kermit is acting different lately?

"Muppets Most Wanted" is rated PG for some mild action.

What Worked:
While not quite as strong as the previous Muppet movie, "Muppets Most Wanted" is still a fun film that plays on the strengths of the other films.

First up, Bret McKenzie continues to deliver great songs for the Muppets. Things are started off "We're Doing a Sequel." It's very tongue in cheek as the Muppets talk about how the sequel is never quite as good as the first, how the studios wanted a franchise, and more. The Muppets then brainstorm about what such a sequel might be about with amusing results. The villain song is again pretty funny with "I'm Number One." Constantine rubs in the fact that he's the lead villain and that Ricky Gervais is "Number Two." A chorus of "dance, monkey, dance" puts Dominic solidly in his place. There are a lot of fun musical numbers in the Russian gulag with Tina Fey and the cast singing a '50s-inspired "The Big House." Josh Groban even pops in for a line or two. Also notable is the "Interrogation Song" with Ty Burrell and Sam the Eagle, "Something So Right" with Miss Piggy and Celine Dion, and a remake of "Working in the Coal Mine" with McKenzie's "Flight of the Conchords" co-star Jemaine Clement. At one point, we're even treated to (or subjected to, depending on your point of view) Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" sung by Clement, Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, and the other gulag prisoners. Overall, the music is top notch and a lot of fun.

Another fun feature of the Muppet movies are all of the cameos. This time around we have Tom "Loki" Hiddleston, Chloë Grace Moretz, Stanley Tucci and Zach Galifianakis. Starring as themselves we have Christoph Waltz (appropriately enough doing the waltz), Salma Hayek (running the bulls with Gonzo), and Lady Gaga (in craft services, naturally). Danny Trejo is an especially fun cameo as when we first see him, we think he's a random prisoner in the gulag. But then later Tina Fey's character says, "Good night, Danny Trejo." In that little background line, we learn that he's playing himself locked in a Russian prison. It's a line that goes completely over kid's heads, but the parents that heard it got an extra laugh.

Then, finally, there are the Muppets themselves who return in fine form. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Animal, Gonzo, and the others all get good screen time and are faithful to their earlier incarnations. Even Walter, who was introduced in the first film, returns and has a significant role. While there aren't any major advancements in puppetry, we do get to see Constantine jump around and fight as well as him dance during a musical number. The puppeteer is obviously removed by computers, but it's still impressive to see how they bring the puppet to life.

Attached at the beginning of the film is another Pixar short. This time it's a "Monsters University" short entitled “Party Central." In it, the OK fraternity tries to hold a party that nobody attends. Mike and Sulley then show up with a couple of the magical doors from the films and subsequently hijack a rival part to their own. It's absolutely hilarious and I laughed harder at this short than anything in "Monsters University." It sets the bar high for "Muppets Most Wanted."

What Didn't Work:
"Muppets Most Wanted" is really strong for about 2/3 of the movie, but by the time it hits the final 1/3, things start to slow down quite a bit. The laughs are fewer and the plot starts to meander. The big finale ends up being rather weak and a bunch of characters show up for no apparent reason other than to quickly tie up loose ends. It's a bit of a disappointment considering how strongly the film started out.

While on the surface this looks like a new Muppet movie, a lot of the elements in it were done before in "The Great Muppet Caper." The Muppets were in London. They got pulled into an international crime spree. They were framed for a jewel heist. In many ways it just felt familiar if you've seen the previous films.

The Bottom Line:
While it ends on a weak note, there's enough here to warrant a trip to the movie theater with or without the kiddies. "Muppets Most Wanted" is fun for both children and adults and continues the Muppet revival at Disney.



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