3 out of 5 stars (average)
Some childhood memories never fade. For me, The Muppets are some of those memories. The Muppets were not my favorite characters, but they still had an impression on me that remains to this day.
The reason I tell you this is so that you can understand that I, like many people in our generation, had a connection with the Muppets at some point in their lives. So I was reasonably nervous when I found out that Jason Segel (Of Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “How I Met Your Mother”) was going to write a Muppet screenplay. Would it be raunchy like “Sarah Marshall” or would he somehow recapture the old Muppet spirit of the original movies while still entertaining the new generation? The answer, to my immense joy, was the latter. ‘The Muppets” was a huge critical and financial success, and put a smile on my face in the way that only a good Muppet movie can. Like all good studios, Disney decided to take another stab at the Muppets, this time turning their adventure into a hilarious combo of a caper, a buddy-cop movie, and a prison film, while still retaining most of the Muppet spirit. That film is “Muppets Most Wanted”, and while it isn’t as good as the last film, it does feel like an old-school Muppets film, just with some modern day actors.
Picking up literally where the last film left off, we find the gang back together again, but without a manager. Luckily, they run into world-famous tour manager Damian Badguy (A very well-cast Ricky Gervais), who has already set up a tour schedule for them. The Muppets accept, not knowing that Damian is actually in cahoots with international thief Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog. Every location on the tour is right next to a museum for Damian and Constantine to rob.
Seeing that Kermit presents a problem, Constantine switches places with him in Russia and Kermit is sent to a Gulag run by Nadya (A hilarious Tina Fey). Now, Constantine is masquerading as Kermit so he and Damian can pull off the heists without the Muppets’ knowledge. Unfortunately for them, an Interpol agent (Ty Burrell of “Modern Family“) and his partner are hot on their tails.
This movie surprised me in a few ways. It feels like a classic Muppet movie instead of an attempt by Disney to get fast cash. I am not the biggest fan of Ty Burrell, but he really gets into the character and is entertaining to watch. The songs are also better than expected, and the plot is more engaging and old-school Muppet than the previous installment. I also enjoyed how the human and Muppet plot was better meshed this time around, as opposed to having them be separate like in the last film. The writing is good, and the human actors don’t feel underused. If there was ever a reason to see this movie though, it would be Tina Fey. She gives herself completely to the role and runs with it, making every scene she is in hilarious to watch.
Sadly, the film does have some low points. The first 15 minutes of it seem a little slow, as if it doesn’t know what it wants to be, but picks up speed after all the human characters are introduced. Also, the buddy-cop subplot feels a little rushed, while the other two seem more fleshed out. Thankfully though, there are no songs that attempt to add serious dramatic weight, (“Man or Muppet” style). That song was necessary for the human plot, but seemed a tonally unique due to the rest of the film (The big-lipped alligator moment if there ever was one). Other than these tiny flaws, “Muppets Most Wanted” is an entertaining film for those who want some clean comedy with hilarious actors.
Rated PG for Some Mild Action