“Everybody knows a sequel is never quite as good,” the Muppets merrily sing in their catchy opening number. While they’re correct in a number of ways, “Muppets: Most Wanted” still provides enough joy, laughter and anarchy to more than merit another visit to our old felt friends.
The plot, such as it is, follows the heroes on a tour around Europe with dodgy new manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) and his dastardly amphibian accomplice Constantine, who has slyly replaced himself in a Siberian prison with none other than Kermit the frog. The evil pair embark on a series of heists, aiming to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London and leave the Muppets reputation in tatters. In a film focussing on all-singing, all dancing felt puppets, any humans in the vicinity need to really put in the hours to make an impression. Mercifully then, the producers here had the overwhelmingly good sense to cast strong comedy talent for the human counterparts.
The always wonderful Tina Fey and Ty Burrell respectively play a Siberian prison guard and Cleauseau-esque Interpol agent, joyfully injecting their performances with over-the-top accents and a broad slapstick energy characteristic of the film in general. Ricky Gervais is also good value as the dodgy double crossing villain. However, as is usually the case with Gervais, he is effectively just playing a version of himself, so whether or not you enjoy his schtick will greatly affect whether you enjoy it here.
Director James Bobin does a grand job of wrangling the anarchy together into something fairly cohesive, and he clearly has an intrinsic understanding for comedy and timing, however some aspects of the film don’t quite work.
Generally speaking, the plot of a Muppet movie is always secondary to the free-wheeling anarchy provided by the Muppets themselves, but without a solid framework to hang it on, some of the plotting and jokes tend to fall flat and even seem repetitive. It’s not a severe problem, but it does place this outing below it’s predecessor.
The musical numbers here are the main star of the show. Penned by Flight of the Conchord’s Bret McKenzie (who has a hilarious cameo as a Gulag prisoner) clearly has a lot of love for the Muppets and provides the film with it’s strongest attribute.
As is to be expected, there is a deluge of celebrity cameos, varying in quality from the inspired (Christoph Waltz doing a waltz) to the completely pointless (Diddy, sitting quietly). For the most part, these are a pleasant distraction,
but the overall effect is to divert the attention from the Muppet troupe, which is a borderline criminal act in a Muppet movie.
most screen time is obviously given over to Kermit, Piggy and Constantine, with the limited screen time afforded the others serving to demonstrate just how little they feature in the film. Fan favourites such as Animal and the Great Gonzo shine with great jokes in very limited screen time, but one can’t help think that the film would have been better with more focus on the Muppets themselves rather than cameos from other stars.
Nonetheless, broadly speaking the film succeeds with a never ending stream of bonkers humour and joyful musical numbers. So while, as the Muppets themselves happily admit, this is a slight slip in quality from their last outing, it’s still a great big bundle of fun.
Sit back and enjoy the ride and you’ll be sure to leave the cinema with a big childish grin on your face.