After the smash return to the big screen in 2011, the muppets continue their reintroduction to pop culture with a sequel entitled “Muppets: Most Wanted.” The previous film asked the question of whether or not a franchise like The Muppets could still be relevant in today’s pop cultural lexicon, and was answered with a resounding yes. But can they maintain that relevance?
In keeping with the franchises trademark forth-wall breaking humor, the film follows the muppets directly after they finish filming their previous movie. Seeking to capitalize on their newly reacquired fame, the muppets, at the manipulation of their dubious new manager played by Ricky Gervais, embark on a tour across Europe to generate brand awareness. Little do they know that Gervais’ character, Dominic Badguy (pronounced badge-ee, apparently French) is working for escaped criminal Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog and doppelgänger (with the deception of a birthmark) to Muppet frontman Kermit the Frog. His plan: to switch places with Kermit, (landing the innocent frog in Siberian gulag under warden Tina Fey) so Constantine and Dominic can use get Muppet’s tour as a front for series of heists. Hot on their tail is the classic muppet Sam the Eagle as CIA agent accompanied by an Inspector Clouseau Pastiche played by Ty Burrell.
As a whole the film is tremendously enjoyable. The songs are all fantastic (even better than those of the previous, I felt). While there are certainly a few that just take up time rather than advancing anything, they’re all well crafted and delivered with both hilarity and grace (and remarkably complex instrumentation). Since it’s a muppet movie there are numerous little celebrity cameos, some so subtle I had to be told about them after getting out the theater (so keep your eyes open). Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell are really fun as the main human characters, especially Burrell with his hammy French accent and buddy cop interactions with Sam the Eagle (there are also a few funny jabs at general European customs like taking month long holidays and driving annoyingly tiny cars). What is refreshing about the movie is that while the human characters are enjoyable, the true stars of they to film are unquestionably the Muppets, particularly Kermit. The film’s villain Constantine, also gets a fair amount of screen time and he is a blast to watch.
However, I will say that movie does fail to capture the charm and sense of joy of it’s predecessor. This could be due to difference in emphasis: the last movie’s central theme being nostalgia for long-forgotten franchise as oppose to the more straightforward narrative of a farcical crime caper on display here. Be that as it may, there is noticeable lack of heart here, at least compared it’s predecessor. As such the story, while fun, does drag in parts and fizzles out a bit by the time the climax rolls around. With that said, the fun characters, great comedy and fantastic musical sequences make it a well-above average family film, and I definitely look forward to seeing it again.