April 02, 2014
Family Film Blogging: Muppets Most Wanted
Posted by Christine Hurt

I like the muppets.  I liked The Muppets.  But I can't say that I am dying to see Muppets Most Wanted again.  Yes, there were parts where I laughed out loud, but I do that a lot.  

As probably ever reviewer has noted, the opening song (which is not memorable except for this line), pretty much tells you how the next 90 minutes is going to go:

We're doing a sequel, We're back a popular demand.
C'mon on everybody, strike up the band.
We're doing a sequel; That's what we do in Hollywood.
And everybody knows, the sequel's never quite as good

Except for Toy Story 2, but this is not TS2.  The movie begins literally at the moment that The Muppets ended.  We see the backsides of the stand-ins for Gary (Jason Segal) and Mary (Amy Adams), who walk away and are never mentioned again.  The rest of the Muppets characters (including Walter, from the first movie) then try to think of what they should do in the sequel (opening number), and decide on the prompting of Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) to do a world tour.  Badguy is secretly working with Constantine, number one criminal mind in the world and dead ringer for Kermit, to use the world tour as a way to pull off various heists, leading to the theft of the crown jewels in London.  To pull this off, Constantine must take Kermit's place, with Kermit being mistaken for Constantine and sent to a Russian gulag, run by Nadya (Tina Fey).  All the best parts of the movie take place in the gulag.

Though I thought the last movie was diminished by the story of Walter, Gary and Mary, here the movie could use a good non-Muppet plot.  Ricky Gervais does not shine in his role.  Whereas Segal and Adams seemed overjoyed to be in a Muppets movie, Gervais seems like someone with the flu showing up for work because he has to do so.  Fey and the gulag cast of characters (Ray Liotta, Daniel Trejo) are definitely worth seeing, including the 15 seconds of Tom Hiddleston (Loki from Thor).  The other human narrative is Ty Burrell, playing an Interpol agent working with muppet Eagle, a CIA agent.  Immediately after the "badge" scene from the trailer, this bit begins to grate.  The jokes all center around how the Interpol agent is European, so he has six hour lunch breaks, two months' summer vacation, etc.  Yeah, the kids didn't really get that.  Burrell also goes through the movie sounding like the French "taunter" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the "outrageous French accent."

The plot within the Muppets is pretty thin, unlike the "getting the band back together" plot of the earlier movie.  Here, the other muppets are just putting on the show, with a "new and improved' Kermit who lets them do whatever they want.  Walter, who barely appears in the first half of the movie, puts together that Kermit and Constantine have been switched. With Animal and Fozzie (also minimally used in this movie), he breaks Kermit out of the gulag.  The other thing that is missing from the movie is catchy songs.  We downloaded the soundtrack of the earlier movie pretty quickly, and loved the songs.  Here, I couldn't hum any song in the movie five minutes after it was over.  I will say that the best part of The Muppets was the "Am I a Man (Or Am I a Muppet)" song, in which Jim Parsons (Sheldon from Big Bang Theory) appears as Walter's parallel human.  This movie tried to do the same thing with Miss Piggy and Celine Dion, and it was dumb.  Really dumb.

I hate being so negative, mostly because the six year-old did enjoy it, but I won't put it on my 2014 highlight reel.

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