Muppets Most Wanted Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
If ever was there a film to defy expectations it was 2011’s candy-coloured euphonic extravaganza, The Muppets. Fans of the puppet troupe were allowed to do it all again while younger audiences fell in love with the Muppets for the first time – and in a large way made this sequel happen. But how does Muppets Most Wanted fare following in the footsteps of the sheer joy and zany fun of The Muppets?
Picking up directly from The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted kicks off with a delightful opening number that’ll have you toe tapping throughout; “We’re Doing A Sequel” is another stroke of genius from Christophe Beck and Bret McKenzie (of the first film). From then on in it’s a riotous globetrotting caper in which Kermit is replaced by a criminal mastermind that just so happens to be his complete doppelgänger. Unfairly incarcerated in a Siberian gulag Kermit is believed to be Constantine, the nefarious villain whom at the same time is traversing the globe with the Muppets who believe him to be Kermit (a quick touch of makeup cover up Constantine’s beauty spot, the only thing distinguishing the two frogs). The Muppets, meanwhile, are on their world tour after the idea is suggested by the reticent Dominic Badguy (pronounced bad-jee), their new manager.
It’s a jumble of different ideas and I’m pleased to say that they all gel well. Kermit’s turn in prison is both funny – a lot of the laughs stem from Tina Fey affecting a Russian accent as Nadya, a crabby warden who secretly adores Broadway musicals and Kermit himself – and moving while the Muppets on the road is the enjoyable centrepiece of the movie.
What made The Muppets so wonderful was the focus on the humans, Gary and Mary (played splendidly by Jason Segel and Amy Adams) but here they’re nowhere to be seen. Segel didn’t want anything to do with it, citing his reason to be that he had completed his task in bringing the Muppets back into the fray and there was no point in just Mary returning. Gary and Mary are replaced, in essence, by Ty Burrell, Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais. Gervais was controversial casting and when I heard the announcement I wasn’t happy. However, whatever doubt is quashed from the moment he steps on screen as Gervais relishes the role of Badguy. Burrell is also excellent as a lax Interpol officer – Burrell, like Fey, uses an accent that’s a clear tip of the hat to Peter Sellers’ bumbling Inspector Clouseau – although he doesn’t interact with many of the Muppets bar Sam the Eagle, his crime-fighting partner. So, while Burrell, Fey and Gervais don’t patch the Gary and Mary-shaped hole they’re likeable in a league of their own.
Muppets Most Wanted takes the hectic pace of the latter half of The Muppets and runs with it. Given it takes place mere seconds after the show-stopping climax of the first film, it’s no wonder but there’s rarely a moment to catch your breath. Still, Muppets Most Wanted is something special. While tonally different from The Muppets and lacking in grounded human characters, it’s another gem to add to the Muppets canon.
A terrific soundtrack that can safely hold a candle to The Muppets’ score; some fantastic set-pieces; a celebrity cameo in almost every scene (look out for the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Chloë Grace Moretz and James McAvoy in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them appearances) and a great script bolstered by solid performances makes Muppets Most Wanted as equally infectious and entertaining as the first film. It might be contrasting to The Muppets but you’ll still come away humming.