John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Muppets Most Wanted

Genre: Family, Comedy

Director: James Bobin

Cast: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Animal, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey

MPAA-Rating: PG

Release Date: March 21st, 2014

Like many other clever sequels (Scream 2, try for instance), buy Muppets Most Wanted recognizes  the limitations of follow-up films and even pokes fun at the concept. The feature’s opening tune is actually called “We’re Doing a Sequel,” which accurately affirms that sequels are often inferior to their predecessors. In spite of its issues though and the missing freshness that was so prominent in The Muppets (2011), Muppets Most Wanted succeeds in offering up a few smart laughs and some memorable musical moments.

Beginning right where its predecessor ended, the memorable muppets continue their story in this adventure. After a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment where you see the backs of actors that look like Jason Segel and Amy Adams (who are otherwise absent here), the muppets go on their way leaving those human characters behind. They are quickly introduced to a thief named Dominic (Ricky Gervais), who wants to capitalize on their international success.

For him, doing a sequel is not enough when money is concerned. He wants the muppets to do a world tour and the muppets eagerly and naively follow his lead. Of course, Dominic has an evil plot up his sleeves and replacing the team’s iconic leader Kermit (voiced by Steve Whitmire) with a criminal mastermind named Constantine (voiced by Matt Vogel) is only the beginning of his dastardly plan.

After that mission is accomplished, the movie eventually splits into three different storylines. In the most prevalent one, Dominic works with Constantine in completing a major crime while hiding their identities from the sometimes-suspicious muppets. Meanwhile, the real Kermit is locked up in a Siberian prison where he befriends a kind-hearted though dim-witted guard named Nadya (Tina Fey). In the third storyline, a vacation-loving European detective named Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) partners with muppet Sam the Eagle (voiced by Eric Jacobson) to track down an international thief, whose robberies coincide with the muppet’s world tour.

The last storyline works the best with the competitive Jean Pierre and Sam playing well against each other (comparing the sizes of their badges early on). Burrell, well-known for his comedic work on Modern Family,  is the perfect choice to play a lazy detective who misses obvious clues and who doesn’t work past a certain hour.

The other storylines are fun too, filling this family picture with colorful and quirky characters. The celebrity cameos are also a delight, especially the unexpected ones (Ray Liotta as a dancing prisoner!). The humor admittedly doesn’t work as well as its predecessor, which introduced the muppets to a new generation of viewers. That film partly succeeded because of the heartfelt exuberance it  offered in bringing the muppets back to the big screen. Here, we have a sequel that doesn’t deliver that excitement but still delivers a fun voyage.

Featuring clever film references from The Seventh Seal to Silence of the Lambs, writers James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller  are smart enough to fill this adventure with references to features that adults will appreciate. To their credit, they also fill it with some funny one-liners and sight gags that children will love.  As the opening number suggests, Muppets Most Wanted is slightly inferior to its predecessor but it’s still an enchanting film that families and their children will likely enjoy.

Review by: John Hanlon