Muppets Most Wanted (2014): ★★★
Directed by James Bobin
The previous Muppet movie (The Muppets (2012)) banked its appeal on being absolutely drenched in nostalgia. It was for lapsed Muppet lovers, adult children who loved these characters when they were kids who could now share it with their own kids. It had heart and sweetness and, like the original Muppet Movie, a genuinely moving story.
Muppets Most Wanted doesn’t have the advantage of access to all that nostalgia; the previous film is only a couple of years old, so what is there to be nostalgic about? So instead it goes a different direction: with a wink and a shrug it eschews all the feely-feely nostalgia and goes straight for the laughs. And it is funny. Great gravy, is it funny. This might be the overall-funniest Muppet movie yet made.
And it starts right off where the last movie ended—literally. The opening scene of Muppets Most Wanted is a recreation of the very last shot of The Muppets. And immediately it skews in its own direction with an hilarious musical number about how that movie did so well that now they get to do a sequel to it (someone even points out that this is technically like the 10th sequel, but oh well).
The plot involves international criminal (and Kermit lookalike) Constantine and his minion replacing Kermit and taking the Muppets on a tour of Europe so that Constantine can pull of heists at their various stops.
Constantine is one of the most enjoyable Muppet creations since Seymour and Pepe (whatever happened to Seymour, anyway?). His gleeful sliminess and ridiculous accent, and the joke of (almost) no one noticing just how entirely different he actually is from Kermit, are all terrifically fun. Ricky Gervais is also very good as the suffering sidekick who is unjustly ridiculed and put down by Constantine, despite being kind of the brains of the whole operation.
The music in Muppets Most Wanted is good, though not as good as the previous movie. There was no stand-out song that I left the theater unable to get out of my head, like “Man or Muppet.” The best is probably Constantine’s ludicrous disco number, “I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu).” The only other only song I have any good memory of is the “Number One & Number Two” duet with Constantine and Gervais, though I remember enjoying Tina Fey’s jailhouse number as being enjoyable, and Celine Dion’s cameo in Piggy’s lament being funny.
Muppets Most Wanted takes the muppet trope of breaking the fourth wall and runs with it quite a bit (such as the opening number “We’re Doing a Sequel). My favorite moment is when Walter is taken out of the picture by the villains, who claim that he quit the Muppets. Someone then wonders, didn’t they just do a whole movie about how Walter wanted to become a Muppet?
There are a couple of attempts at injecting some heart into the film, such as Kermit’s feelings being (rightfully) hurt that nobody noticed he was replaced. But they’re really half-hearted heart-filled moments, and they don’t bog down the rapid-pace of the humor. The end result is an extremely fun film. I laughed a lot. A lot-lot.
Oh, and, “Goodnight, Danny Trejo,” just killed me. I was dying. You’ll see.
Categories: Movie Reviews.