March 24, 2014

Muppets - Most Wanted: Movie Review

Muppets: Most Wanted offers double the cameo appearances, double the songs, but less than half the enjoyment of 2011 reboot.

Starting where 2011's The Muppets ended, the Muppets are convinced by their new tour manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) that it is time to take their Muppet Show on the European road. This is of course a ploy so Dominic's boss and Kermit look-alike Constantine can steal the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Since Kermit and Constantine look so much alike, Kermit is mistaken for the most wanted criminal in the world and is thrown in the Gulag. As 2011's The Muppets was a perfect mix of nostalgia for adults and entertainment for children, Muppets: Most Wanted is the complete opposite. Most of the time you don't know who the film is fabricated for. While the Muppet tour takes off, the Muppets take a train from Los Angeles to Berlin, Germany, backwards. The train is moving backwards all the way to Europe. This scene and the outlandish plot makes this an entertaining children's film. On the other hand, many of the film's jokes are for adult, including instances of Tina Fey miming that she is smoking, the game played between two intelligence agency operatives where they compete on who has the bigger . . . badge, and the jokes regarding the incompetence of the European prison system and law enforcement system. Sure, there are good jokes from time to time to save the show, but the bad jokes are the least of this film's problems. 

Right off the bat, the story is implausible. In a world where Muppets are normal, is no one the least bit smart to recognize that Constantine and Kermit the Frog look exactly alike? Constantine has a whole other personality that he doesn't even care to hide in front of the other Muppets. The screenwriters then throw simple, annoying answers, like Kermit getting a cold and that is why he talks in a different accent.

This wouldn't be a Muppet movie without musical numbers. Unfortunately some musical numbers fall flat due to poor lyrical writing. "We're Doing a Sequel" is the first big number, which the adults and critics will fall for, while the kids will sit quietly as the jokes fly over their heads. Big misses include the lyrically dull "I'm Number One," the plain and time-wasting "Interrogation Song," and the 80's-inspired ballad "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu)." On the other end of the musical spectrum, Tina Fey delights with "The Big House," and the Gulag prisoners give the audience a hilarious rendition of A Chorus Line's "I Hope I Get It."

The first opening number of the film plays off the fact that sequels are never better than the first films in a series. That stands true for Muppets: Most Wanted. It's not the off-base jokes or the mundane songs that get you at the end. It's the fact that the story is erratic and unbearably flat.

Good Qualities: There are funny jokes, and some good musical numbers. Enough to save it from disaster.
Bad Qualities: From the start, there is no buying the story, and the film fights between being a film for adults and a film for children.

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