Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Muppets Most Wanted - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Muppets Most Wanted
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+
Music: B+

The general consensus seems to be that Muppets Most Wanted is not quite as good as its immediate predecessor -- but I always felt The Muppets (2011) was oddly overrated; not bad, but blandly enjoyable. Having been the first Muppet movie in 12 years, it broadly focused on nostalgia at the expense of wit. Muppets Most Wanted, by contrast, features just the right, very brief bit of nostalgia -- to make room for the trademark silliness (and, yes, wit) we all know and love.

We also get a far better villain -- another Muppet! Previously we had Chris Cooper, a sinister villain in many more adult-themed films, but one a bit out of place in the Muppet universe. Now, however, the Muppets are challenged by Constantine, "The World's Most Dangerous Frog," who happens to look identical to Kermit the Frog, but for a mole on his lip. He escapes from a Siberian Gulag, enlists the help of his #2 henchman, Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) -- "It's pronounced 'Badjee'" -- and dupes the Muppet gang into helping them on a worldwide quest to steal the Crown Jewels in London. The Muppets are, of course, by and large a bunch of lovable idiots, taking Dominic's word for it when he explains the frog's Russian accent as a result of a cold. Constantine has taken Kermit's place, you see; meanwhile, Constantine having glued a fake mole onto Kermit's face, Kermit is sent back to the Gulag to take Constantine's place there, among prisoners that feature the likes of Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, and Josh Groban.

There follows a dual story, flipping between Constantine and Dominic messing things up for the rest of the Muppet crew; and Kermit ultimately infusing some showmanship into the inmates at the Gulag. The primary warden at the Gulag is its sole woman, Nadya, played by Tina Fey with a silly Russian accent. Silly accents are a bit of a running gag, between Nadya and Constantine, and Ty Burrell as Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon, who is trailing the succession of European museum thefts in collaboration with Sam the Eagle. It takes them a while, of course, to realize that at each theft, the Muppets were performing nearby.

Everything in Muppets Most Wanted is preposterous -- and in delightfully, perfectly, Muppet-worthy fashion. The very first shot picks up where the last movie ended, at its very moment, and is immediately meta: references to the crowd as extras rather than adoring Muppet fans morphs into an opening number called "We're Doing a a Sequel." (This song is irresistibly catchy, by the way, as are nearly all the songs -- even the few that kind of fall flat within the story context.) Kermit even opens the floor to requests for story lines, and that's when Gervais walks in -- immediately starting his villainous duties -- to suggest the Muppets go on a world tour. And so they do exactly that, from Los Angeles to Berlin to Dublin to London. On a train. And they consistently travel to locations that are continents apart in, say, a day.

The best thing about the Muppets is the way they own their own cheesiness, and even revel in it. The 2011 Muppets didn't have quite enough of that, opting instead to bathe in its own sincerity. But a movie like this can still be sincere without gloppiness running across the surface -- and this time around, they manage to keep the surprisingly sophisticated silliness at the forefront.

It's hard to say whether The Muppets these days inherently appeal to children or only nostalgic adults -- that last movie, in its presentation, would suggest the latter. Muppets Most Wanted is clearly intended to appeal to both, each on their level, which is the best kind of "family entertainment." From my own adult perspective, it doesn't always work, but it does more often than not. It certainly has a good number of laughs in it, and the several young kids sitting right behind me in the theatre clearly enjoyed it. This is arguably the first Muppet movie that both retains the original spirit of the Muppets and successfully brings it into 21st Century.

Kermit meets his near-identical nemesis, Constantine, in MUPPETS MOST WANTED.

Overall: B+
3 comments or Leave a comment
fatpie42 From: fatpie42 Date: March 21st, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I rated "The Muppets" with a B- and I STILL reckon I overrated it. One thing oddly missing from your review is any mention of Ricky Gervais. I don't mind him snarking at an awards ceremony, but in a movie he can really get on my nerves. Does he manage to avoid being incredibly annoying in this movie?
cinema_holic From: cinema_holic Date: March 21st, 2014 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did mention Ricky Gervais, actually (second paragraph), although admittedly I said nothing about his performance. Generally speaking, the humans in Muppet Movies are inconsequential -- it's the Muppets themselves who are the stars. I happen to love Rickt Gervais, even in movies (though I do prefer his standup and his TV series to his movies), but I would never cite this movie as a reason why. Generally speaking, the behavior you see of him in the trailer is what you can expect from him in the film. I didn't find him annoying, but then, I really never do.
fatpie42 From: fatpie42 Date: March 21st, 2014 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never really liked The Office, but I must admit to being very amused by episodes of Extras. I also didn't think Ricky Gervais was bad in "Stardust" though his screen time there was actually kept to a minimum.
3 comments or Leave a comment