Muppets Most Wanted
It's no Godfather Part II, but as far as sequels go, it's not bad either.
April 07, 2014
Picking up just seconds from where the last Muppets film left off, Muppets Most Wanted opens with a rousing song that explains: "Everybody knows a sequel is never quite as good". A few famous exceptions notwithstanding, the in-joke is right on the money, and even though it's definitely true of this film as well, thankfully the follow up to James Bobin's 2012 hit is only slightly poorer than its predecessor.
This time round, the gang is talked into embarking upon a world tour by Ricky Gervais's smooth-talking yet unscrupulous talent manager, Mr Badguy ("Its...French. It's pronounced...Bad Geeee"). The tour is, however, just a front to enable Badguy and his boss Constantine (aka Evil Kermit) to conduct a series of high-end museum robberies and steal England's Crown Jewels. Key to the plan is Constantine's escape from a Siberian gulag and an ole switcheroo that sees him trade places with the real Kermit. "Eeets...dee Marrr-pet shaow" practices the heavily accented villain as he reviews file footage of Kermit in what's just one of dozens of charming imposter-Kermit based jokes.
As always, the film is packed with self-referential humour (one Muppet complains that it's actually the seventh movie in the franchise), cameos (Usher plays an usher, Celine Dion takes the absolute piss out of herself and James McAvoy appears as a 'blink and you'll miss him delivery man', to name just a few), and — of course — musical numbers. None of the songs come close to matching The LEGO Movie's impossibly catchy 'Everything Is Awesome', but several of them are good enough to gets the toes tapping. Constantine's 'I'm Number One', for example, is amusing in its constant forcing of Gervais to reply 'I'm number two', and the disco-inspired 'I'll Get You What You Want' is just crying out for a Pharrell cover.
The highlight of Muppets Most Wanted, however, is the subplot involving the partnership of Sam the Eagle and Interpol's Jean Pierre Napoleon (in an outrageously cliched swipe at the French by Ty Burrell). Their dogged pursuit of the thieves leads to some fantastic scenes involving muppet interrogations, crime scene analysis and police badge oneupmanship. Tina Fey also impresses as the gulag's warden Nadya, whose determination to put on the prison's annual revue sees Kermit end up directing a terrifically funny all-male A Chorus Line. I'm also told Ms Piggy's wedding dress (designed by Vivienne Westwood...no, seriously) is to die for.
Based on the laughter of the kids attending the screening, kids will laugh at screenings of this movie, and so too will adults, though not in the same way or with the marked regularity of, say, a Pixar film. It's a little light on plot, and begins to feel a little repetitive by the end, yet the pacing is rarely in danger of lagging and the jokes come often enough to keep everyone entertained. Empire Strikes Back it 'aint, but it's not a bad sequel to what was always going to be a hard act to follow.