I’ve love the Muppets. There’s a je ne sais quoi about them that’s been unreproducible, allowing these characters to live on for decades. Like many, I was excited when after 12 years they announced a new Muppet movie in 2011. While it certainly had its moments, there was still something about it I found lacking. Now, three years later there’s a sequel: Muppets Most Wanted. Was this as lacking or did it surpass its predecessor?
If you’ve managed to avoid the advertisements for this churned out by the Disney marketing machine, I commend you, and please tell me your secrets. The premise is simple. A Kermit lookalike, Constantine, breaks out of prison and replaces him during the Muppets tour, planning to steal the Crown Jewels of London. Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) — who is taking over the Muppets managerial duties — assisted Constantine in his crime spree. Gulag warden Nadya (Tina Fey) kept Kermit imprisoned while Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) was in pursuit of Constantine. Also, celebrity cameos abound.
The one thing I remember most about the movie was checking my watch to see when it was over. This was incredibly boring. Though there were a few shining moments, most of the movie was drab. The performances were solid, but the material was lacking. A constant joke with the Muppets was the self deprecating poor quality of their shows. Here it felt too on the nose. I can count on one hand the number of times I genuinely laughed (once was when the flamingos sang the Macarena).
Speaking of songs, that was easily the strongest part of the movie. Bret McKenzie, half of the Flight of the Conchords duo, composed the original music. “I’m Number One,” “The Big House,” “Interrogation Song,” and “I’ll Get You What You Want” were all fun numbers. Also, seeing the Conchord’s other half, Jermaine Clement, in prison cracked me up.
The performances from the main three actors were each solid. Gervais looked like he was having a blast performing “I’m Number One.” Tina Fey was great with her Russian accent, and the constant European jokes with Ty Burrell were funny as well. The cameos aside felt wasted. Christoph Waltz doing the waltz was funny, but I’m pretty sure I was the only person in the theater who knew who he was. No one in my family recognized Tom Hiddleston either. Considering the amount of time they’ve seen the Avengers, that’s astounding. Usher though, that was funny.
The Muppets’ strong suit has always been a sense of realism. The original Muppet Movie looked fantastic because they actually performed those actions. No special effects, only practical. They actually drove the car. Every time I saw a zoomed out shot of the Muppets walking, like Constantine dancing, it broke the immersion for me. This wasn’t the Muppets. By the end, the poorly implemented CG ensured their was no hope that I would enjoy the climax. Especially the shot of all the celebrities pasted together.
Muppets Most Wanted wasn’t the Muppets for me. If these are the type of movies we can expect from this crew, I’ll be missing the next one.
Did you enjoy the movie? What was your favorite song? Comment below!
Next movie, Cap.