The Muppets made their triumphant return back in 2011 and now they’re back for a European tour that is interrupted by a dangerous pair of criminals in Muppets Most Wanted
Literally starting from the end of The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted picks up with the gang being approached by a shady manager, Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who convinces them to go on a European tour to capitalize on their restored popularity. Kermit is the only one hesitant and one of the main themes of the movie is the rest of the gang taking Kermit for granted, and not noticing when “the world’s most dangerous frog”, Constantine, replaces Kermit in a scheme to steal the crown jewels. Kermit is wrongfully arrested and sent to a gulag run by Russian warden Nadia (Tina Fey). There’s also a CIA/Interpol team up between Ty Burrell and Sam the Eagle. The plot is a little bit more complex than the first movie but it’s definitely a distant second in terms of priority in favor of getting to musical numbers and gags. I feel like it does get a little plot heavy toward the end with Constantine and Kermit’s face off taking center stage and the jokes and music go to the back burner a tad. It’s also slightly less meta than the first movie, although it does kick off with a song about sequels. It definitely feels much more like one of the classic Muppet movies, obviously The Great Muppet Caper is probably the most similar.
Pretty much the entire Muppet ensemble is used to great effect in this movie (although personally, I was greatly disappointed by the lack of 80’s Robot). Kermit, Constantine and Miss Piggy are the main focus but there’s never not a scene that doesn’t have a group of Muppets bouncing off each other with brilliant gags coming from the likes of Swedish Chef and Dr. Honeydew and Beaker. Characters who were slightly neglected in the original, like Rizzo and Pepe are also more prominently featured this time and Walter is now fully integrated into the group. Plus there’s Constantine, a ridiculous villain whose horrendous impression of Kermit makes the joke about no one recognizing something is wrong all the funnier. On the human side of things, Ricky Gervais is great as usual as the put upon sidekick to Constantine (highlighted in the great song “I’m Number One”), Tina Fey is hilariously weird as Nadia (with a ridiculous Russian accent) and Ty Burrell puts on an equally ridiculous French accent as Jean Pierre (although I feel they missed the perfect opportunity to cast Jean Dujardin and his jokes about French work laziness get a bit old). Of course, there is an insane amount of cameos as well, like a mind bottling singing and dancing quartet of gulag prisoners.
Just like the 2011 movie, the real star is the music by Brett McKenzie. It’s going to take a couple listens to determine if anything will be as classic as Man or Muppet or Life’s a Happy Song but pretty much all the songs are great. There’s a crazy 70’s throwback by Constantine, a dramatic duet by Miss Piggy and Celine Dion, an ode to the gulag, a musical interrogation and so much more.
If you liked the 2011 Muppets movie, this is more of the same, which is great music and tons of fun. I don’t think it reaches the nostalgic or emotional heights of The Muppets but it is still a must see for Muppets fans.