Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted

I finally got a chance to watch Muppets Most Wanted which opened last Friday and am glad to say I was not disappointed.  Admittedly, I was, at first, disappointed to hear that Jason Segel and Amy Adams would not be returning for this movie.  Segel, who not only starred in the movie, but also co-wrote The Muppets with Nick Stoller, had such a love for the characters.  And, both him and Adams brought such heart to the film.

The good news, though, is that much of the creative crew returned for Muppets Most Wanted.  James Bobin not only returns as director, but as co-writer with Nick Stoller.  Christophe Beck returns to do the score and Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords returns to write the music.

Photo: Disney
The story takes place literally after The Muppets ends and they are all trying to figure out what to do next.  Enter Dominic Badguy (played by Ricky Gervais.  Oh, and Dominic explains his last name is pronounced "Bad-GEE") who encourages them to do a world tour.  Turns out he is working with the dreaded international criminal Constantine who, aside from a mole, looks exactly like Kermit the Frog.  Constantine takes Kermit's place, sending him to the Russian Gulag from which he escaped, so he and Dominic can use the Muppet World Tour to rob various institutions for artifacts that will help them steal the Crown Jewels.

Joining Gervais as human cast members are Tina Fey, who plays Nadya, the head prison guard at the Gulag secretly in love with Kermit, and Ty Burrell, who channels Inspector Clouseau as Interpol detective Jean Pierre Napoleon.  While I'm still partial to Segel and Adams, Gervais, Fey and Burrell are all excellent in their roles and bring a lot of fun to the film.

Photo: Disney
And, speaking of human cast members, this film also hosts a bevy of celebrity cameos, some of which I thought were more successful as others.  The Usher being an usher gag seemed a little forced and, while I loves me some Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, they seemed really out of place in the opening number.  I prefer the celebrity appearances to be a little less gimmicky.  Ray Liotta, Jemaine Clement, and Danny Trejo as prisoners in the Gulag or even shorter appearances like Stanley Tucci as a prison guard were more successful.  Celebrity cameos have always been a Muppet tradition, but I did think some of them were out of place in this movie.

Regardless of what one thinks about the celebrity cameos, at the heart of the film, of course, are the Muppets themselves and they are just as charming as ever.  It's amazing to me that even though some of the original Muppeteers, such as Jim Henson and Frank Oz, no longer portray their classic characters, you would never really know outside of slightly different voice intonations.  But, the acting is just as delightful as always.

Photo: Disney
 Also, to me, Walter, who made his first appearance in The Muppets, feels like he's been with the cast since the beginning.  He has this wonderful quality about him that just makes him feel classic and different from later Muppets introduced such as Bean the Bunny and Pepe the Prawn.  And, it's when he truly delves into some detective work to figure out what Dominic and Constantine are up to that the movie really gets moving.

Speaking of the Muppets, it made me smile to see Kermit's nephew Robin make a cameo appearance.  He was such a part of my childhood and I always love seeing him.

Photo: Disney
While I enjoyed the songs in this movie, though, I have to admit I think the songs in The Muppets seemed a little more singable and memorable.  But, that's not to say I didn't think Bret McKenzie's music was a great deal of fun.  I think my favorite numbers were "The Big House," Tina Fey's song when Kermit is being "introduced" to the Gulag, and "Interrogation Song," which Ty Burrell and Sam the Eagle perform while interrogating the Muppets.  But, the "We're Doing A Sequel" and "Together Again" numbers are the most classically Muppet sounding.

It's too bad that Muppets Most Wanted has faced some stiff competition with the release of Divergent.  While, admittedly, I think I enjoyed The Muppets a bit more, this film is still a very solid and fun Muppet film that I will definitely watch again.  I hope that it gets more word of mouth and get more families in the theater.


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