Muppets Most Wanted
James Bobin is back with his second Muppet outing picking up where 2011s The Muppets left off. Muppets Most Wanted sees Kermit and co head off on a whirlwind world tour at the bidding of shifty new promoter/tour manager ‘Dominic Badguy’ (a well pitched Ricky Gervais) which turns out to be a cover for devilish intrigue involving Kermit’s doppelganger Constantine (they differ only in one minor facial feature) the world’s ‘most dangerous frog’. Is Kermit acting a little strange? Will the muppets realise in time? And, as Statler and Waldorf often refrain, does anyone really care anyway?
Bret McKenzie retains his music supervisor and songwriting hats but Bobin has also gathered the other half of his Flight of the Conchords team into the Muppet fold. Jemaine Clement appears in non-muppet form on screen as head prisoner in a Russian Gulag under the care and supervision of hard-nosed prison warden Nadya (Tina Fey sporting a pretty horrendous Russian accent) who seems to have a frog fixation.
Choc full of amusing cameos and pop-cultural references Muppets Most Wanted stretches its limits past breaking on occasion, the pure volume of gags and faces obfuscating it’s relatively straightforward heist film plot.The appropriately linear, spelled out narrative is in danger of being lost on younger viewers and feels squarely aimed (first and foremost) at their nostalgia indulging parents. Indeed my own three and five year olds enjoyed the film more than I expected they would but found it a little hard to follow the overall story, fixating more on the certain memorable moments and characters (Animal and Miss Piggy remain favourites!) Despite this muddying of the narrative waters the film keeps its tone fun and pacing lively with enough songs and silliness to balance the many adults only references (including a nice throwaway Waltons bit involving Danny Trejo, another Gulag ‘guest’). Aspects of Muppets Most Wanted appeal to me more than it’s predecessor—give me bad Gervais over nice Segel any day—but I would say the first film is definitely the more cohesive and distinctive Muppet experience. Still, a decent enough couple of hours to spend laughing with the family.