A Muppet For Most Seasons
by Kevin J. Johnson
MUPPETS MOST WANTED is the direct sequel to 2011’s illustrious comeback THE MUPPETS and the eighth film in the Muppets canon that began with 1979’s THE MUPPET MOVIE. Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and even Walter (the new Muppet on the block) return for more capers, hi-jinks and shenanigans with returning scribe Nicholas Stoller (GET HIM TO THE GREEK, NEIGHBORS) and helmer James Bobin with his Flight of the Conchords cohorts Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement.
I’m gonna be straight up: THE MUPPETS is to The Muppet Show as MUPPETS MOST WANTED is to Muppets Tonight. It’s a well-intentioned follow-up to a classic that, while entertaining, just isn’t as good. There’s an international crime spree masterminded by Constantine, “The World’s Most Dangerous Frog” (who just so happens to be a doppelgänger for Kermit) and Ricky Gervais as Dominic Badguy. They come up with the ruse of a world tour to lure the Muppets into performing at venues nearby classic works of art and treasures, performing and singing and dancing along the way.
There are good old fashioned belly laughs, and flashes of the trademark Muppet wit and satirical bent. But if the last film was for children of all ages, this one is strictly for children. Or at least die-hard Muppet fans and their children. There are the fun cameos, a star-studded cast, and a let’s-put-on-a-show spirit gone awry that you’d come to expect from the Muppets crew. However, the songs aren’t nearly as good; no instant classics like “Man or Muppet” or “Life’s a Happy Song”. The opener is a highlight, though.
It can’t be overstated what Jason Segel brought to the table in resuscitating the Muppets’ cinematic career. He lent an earnest charm and heartfelt desire to not just see the Muppets return in full effect, but to see that type of whimsy and childlike wonder return in mainstream entertainment. With his absence, MUPPETS MOST WANTED is just another movie. Sure, a solid effort overall, but not the majestic meta-statement of “Why We Need The Muppets Back” that moved this big lug to tears. (Near tears. Okay, tears.)
Once again, Muppet fans (and I believe every human being on Earth should be a Muppet fan) will enjoy the film. A couple of cringeworthy moments aside, and you will cringe, MUPPETS MOST WANTED is a fun time at the movies, especially for the young at heart. Though, I’d be lying if I didn’t say you could simply re-watch THE MUPPETS, THE MUPPET MOVIE, or your favorite episode of The Muppet Show instead.
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