MUPPETS MOST WANTED Movie Review – Sean’s Take
2011’s pleasantly entertaining homage/revival of The Muppets was a moderately successful hit and it should comes as no surprise that they’ve ordered a sequel, only this time lacking the benefit of the enthusiastic Jason Segel, who’s presence and genuine love for this franchise provided a welcome balance as our nostalgic tour guide. James Bobin returns to the director’s chair — he’s the only one to do so on a theatrical Muppets film besides Brian Henson — who unfortunately appears to be uninspired this time around.
Muppets Most Wanted picks up exactly where 2011’s film left off and kicks off with a catchy and self-referential musical number written by Bret McKenzie that walks us through the obstacles and baggage that sequels carry with them to witty and often hilarious results. We then join the Muppets gang on a global tour with the assistance of Dominic Badguy, portyrayed by Ricky Gervais in full mugging mode that’s equally irritating and dastardly.
The screenplay perhaps makes it’s biggest mistake when Kermit gets framed and replaced by a dead ringer, Constantine—the World’s Number One Criminal to Dominic’s “Number Two”. Constantine with funny Russian accent and all is fun but when the gang minus Kermit are left to their own devices, they are not only clueless to Constantine and Badguy’s charade but somehow have forgot how to be interesting. Particularly Walter, the most useless Muppet of all that not only serves no purpose when Jason Segel’s not around but when compared to say Jar Jar Binks, at least that annoying clown had personality.
The absolute highlight of the film is Kermit languishing in a Russian gulag and is forced to help the prisoners in their annual music revue. Watching Ray Liotta and Jemaine Clement kick their feet in the chorus line to “I Hope I Get It” is comedic gold and this entire idea of Kermit being their stage mentor would have been a far superior idea to run with then the international crime caper that occupys most of the running time. Tina Fey as the warden gives more than she’s given and it’s a shame that her dedication wasn’t rewarded with a more fulfilling role, seriously just give her something to do. Ty Burrell and Sam Eagle are fun as they investigate the heist but their roles are minor to say the least. There’s some expected fun cameos like Lady Gaga and Christoph Waltz but as they continue to include them for no reason other than to say hey here’s Usher as an usher, I begin to plant my face in my palms.
When The Muppets returned to the screen in 2011, it was a clever way to comment on how they aged and pay tribute to how they can be timeless but this knockoff to the surprisingly superior The Great Muppet Caper is unfocused and missing the crucial elements that made the previous film enjoyable, such as an engaging central character. Brett McKenzie’s musical numbers are still terrific and if there was as much care put into the story as the songs then this film wouldn’t ironically fall victim to the points made in the opening number.