Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

muppets_most_wanted IMDb

I was very excited for this Muppet movie when it was released. I loved what Jason Segel did when he introduced these characters to a whole new generation, and was really excited to see this follow up even if Segel wasn’t involved. Muppets Most Wanted is ok, and certainly has its moments, but the charm of Segel’s film is missing.

This follow up picks up straight after the last film. The Muppets’ comeback has been a huge success and decide to take their show on the road to Europe. Their new manager, Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), plans a European tour with the dastardly intention of robbing nearby locations while the Muppets are performing, giving him the perfect alibi. Badguy also switches Kermit out with the dastardly criminal genius Constantine, who resembles the frog exactly except for a mole. Kermit is mistaken for the criminal and sent to a Russian prison, where he must escape and get back to his friends before Badguy and Constantine frame the Muppets for their crimes.

The best part of this movie, by far, is the opening music number. “We’re Doing a Sequel” is such a catchy tune and is one of the few times that this film manages to capture the magic of the last movie. The song does a great job of lampooning many of the pitfalls sequels often fall into. Unfortunately this film has plenty of the problems the song makes fun of.

Most of the cast feels wasted here. Outside of Ricky Gervais, much of the cast has little to do, especially considering how talented they are. Tina Fey particularly feels like her role as a Russian prison guard is beneath her. The part is very small, yet she featured in nearly all of the promotional material for the film. I would have liked to see her get a bigger role, like someone like her deserves. It is not a huge problem, as I am here to see the Muppets. I do love Tina Fey, though, so however long she appears would likely not have been enough for me.

Of course, the Muppets would be nothing without their celebrity cameos. This is one of the things that Muppets Most Wanted gets right. I really liked how during their European tour, they had a guest host depending on which country they were in, Christoph Waltz in Germany for example. I also like Ty Burrell’s role as a clueless detective trying to catch Constantine.

This isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t as good as the first one. All of the random humour, fun songs and celebrity cameos are here again. It is a fun time, but never reaches the highs of its predecessor.

Rating: B-

Following the success of The Muppets, I was excited for this sequel. But Jason Segel’s labor of love was too perfect; I should have anticipated that this movie would pale in comparison.

It’s not that Muppets Most Wanted is bad, it’s just clearly does not live up to the standards of its successor. The problem here is that Segel was not involved at all. While his Muppets co-writer Nicholas Stoller returned this time around, it’s clear that Segel was the real driving force behind the first script. The film hits the notes it needs to, but much of the heart is missing. I can only assume that this was Segel’s big contribution to the previous movie; his departure is the only thing that’s really changed.

Other than that, Most Wanted delivers what you’d expect from a Muppet movie. There are catchy songs, once again written by Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie. However, my complaint here is that there’s no real show stopping number. The Muppets had two original songs that stood out, “Life’s A Happy Song” and “Man or Muppet.” Most Wanted also has two songs that are memorable, “We’re Doing A Sequel” and “The Big House.” But neither are catchy enough for me to actually remember anything more than the chorus. In fact, the only thing that really makes “The Big House” memorable is Tiny Fey’s performance.

Which brings me to another Muppet staple: human celebrities. Fey’s role feels more like a cameo than the co-starring role it’s meant to be. She is very underused, considering her face was all over the marketing. Still, she takes what she’s given and knocks it out of the park, as per usual. Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell have much meatier roles, both of which are filled with the Muppet silliness you’d expect. Burrell’s is the highlight for me, mostly because his scenes are opposite Sam the Eagle, a personal favorite. The celebrity cameos in Most Wanted are also on point, including Christoph Waltz dancing the waltz with Sweetums, Celine Dion as Miss Piggy’s fairy godmother, and Jemaine Clemant as a prison kingpin.

Like I said, there isn’t anything all that wrong with this movie. It’s fun. I laughed. I’d watch it again. It’s just missing the spark that made The Muppets so special.

Rating: B

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