2011 ushered in a new era of Muppet-ry which gave hope to old and new fans of the variety of felt-made creatures. Headed up by Jason Segal with music by Bret McKenzie, the revival promised a fresh breath of air into a franchise which lost its steam through the years with lazy iterations. Now, history won’t repeat itself will it?
Muppets Most Wanted (originally named The Muppets Again, which is more funny than most other jokes in the movie) begins at the end of The Muppets. Immediately, the self-referential humor begins as all the characters understand that the movie has ended, they’re back on the map and… now what? With a few pitches from the cast, a sneaky Ricky Gervais suggests a world tour. And we’re off with just that. Gervais’ Dominic Badguy, entices the overly-oblivious Muppet crew to make terrible artistic and business decisions for his sketchy plans. Teaming up with a world-class villain who is a Kermit look-a-like, Constantine, they plan on robbing London’s crown jewels as the Muppets roadshow as guise. With some trickery, Kermit is taken to a Russian prison camp with Tina Fey’s strict warden Nadya, he must escape to save the Muppets show and take Miss Piggy back from Constantine.
Phew. As you could probably tell, the plot is weighty, confusing, boring and disorienting to say the least. And that’s source of the film’s problems: the script. With the case of other children focused sequels, like Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and The Smurfs 2, the writers need to make the film more accessible to a worldwide audience so they take the story to a global scale. That’s where the device of a world tour (which is just Europe) comes into play. It’s just a sign of lazy screenwriting and lack of creativity.
What made The Muppets so impressionable is that it was a movie about itself; it knew its setbacks and its goals. This sequel just doesn’t know what it wants to do. Sure, it has most of the Muppet tropes it’s known for such as celebrity cameos, musical numbers, and self-referential jokes. It just doesn’t do any of it well. It takes one shot of a celebrity and moves on.
I won’t say that the music was “bad,” per se, just not memorable. Bret McKenzie returns to supervise the music and in writing original tracks. The introductory number, “We’re Doing a Sequel,” is admirable effort Muppet fare and lively. It’s the highlight of the whole movie, and it’s just at the beginning. All the other songs are canned and traditional Broadway style. Others are uncomfortable and just for the sake of giving a musical number to one of its stars. Such as Gervais’ duet with Constantine, “I’m Number One.” Gervais seems uncomfortable and out of his element. But, Miss Piggy’s balled “Something So Right,” which features Celine Dion, is actually touching and poignant. It’s this movie’s “Man or Muppet.”
The length is exhausting and the lackluster plot doesn’t help move the film along at all. The jokes fall on their face time after time that it becomes pretty embarrassing.
Coming from an avid Muppet fan, I wanted this movie to tickle every fancy I have for the characters and makes them them. But it is just a sad effort on all fronts.
Are you as much of Muppet fan as me? And how did you like it, if you had seen it?
Up next: Divergent.