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Muppets Most Wanted | reviews, news & interviews

Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets Most Wanted

A slow-burning comedy with stars and surprises in true Muppet fashion

Sam Eagle and Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell): the CIA meets Interpol in a flurry of funny

It’s sleazy being green. In Muppets Most Wanted, Kermit The Frog stars as both himself and evil Constantine, a frog that would annex the Ukraine if he could, in a star-studded follow-up to the enjoyable hit The Muppets. Like the feature of 2011, Muppets Most Wanted has some terrific songs, even if it lacks the momentum and funny logic of its predecessor.

Nevertheless, given a little time, the frog and his buddies warm up, brush off the dust and get down to the kind of Muppetry we crave. It’s one of those films you’re not sure about, but as you leave the cinema you'll be singing the songs as you reach for the housekeys.

The plot is simple: The Muppets en masse (yes, it seems almost all of them) want to get back into show business after their big splash in 2011. Any small problems – like lack of a show – are too easily overcome by Ricky Gervais, who is, unbeknownst to the puppets, Dominic Badguy, second in evil command to Constantine, the world’s most criminal amphibian (probably). Scripted by the previous Muppet writers, director James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller, we skip over little details such as why Constantine is imprisoned or why he is named after a Keanu Reeves’ film. Constantine is Kermit’s identical twin with a facial mole that lends itself to a variety of jokes. But what about Miss Piggy and wedding bells, especially when Constantine is so much better at romance?

Meanwhile, without fuss, Constantine takes over Kermit’s role as leader to the Muppets: the Muppet troupe don’t even know the real frog has been sent to the Gulag in Constantine’s place. Luckily, CIA Muppet Sam Eagle teams up with ever-vacationing Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napolean (Ty Burrell – who knew he was so funny?) to find the real Kermie. Meanwhile, Kermit is forced by gulag mistress Tina Fey to put on a show with the prisoners, who just so happen to include Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo (who gets a hilarious namecheck).

Fat could be trimmed here and the comedy could be sharper – even Statler and Waldorf have their bitter edge dulled. It's almost as if the Muppets couldn’t believe they had a hit last time and are checking with this second feature that it wasn’t all a big felty mistake. But once they’ve made sure we’re watching, the songs kick in – wonderments like We’re Doing a Sequel, which doesn’t mince words – “everybody knows the sequel is never quite as good” –  following that up with the ultra snazzy chorus “we get to do it all again”. I’m Number One, The Big House and I Hope I Get It are rousing earworms (some penned by Bret McKenzie) that will be haunting you long afterwards, but not as long as the Oscar-winning Man or Muppet.

The jokes are easy to catch – “And not one single person noticed I’d been replaced by an evil criminal mastermind?” “It sounds worse than it was”, “No, it’s as bad as it sounds” – and there are big stars like Celine Dion, Tom Hiddleston and Salma Hayek. Cameos with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga are fun and unobtrusive and in no way feel like the Mupps are cashing in. Ultimately, after a slow start, it’s all the fun and madness we expect from the Muppets, only maybe a little less flashy from their hugely wonderful breakthrough comback of 2011. Maybe, just a little.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Muppets Most Wanted

It's almost as if The Muppets couldn’t believe they had a hit last time

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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