In 2011, The Muppets ushered in a welcome burst of nostalgia. The sequel aims to be clever by opening with an outright acknowledgment that sequels are inferior to first pictures. The film opens with the Muppets wondering what the hell to do now that the last movie (and their big show) is finished. This would be a novel approach if not for the abundance of super-meta children’s movies that already exist. Then the movie dives into a constant river of allusions to Broadway and cinematic days of yesteryear. Don’t worry, the story recovers.
Luckily, Muppets Most Wanted arrives with plenty of shades of 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper. This sequel is fantastically fun as long as you don’t expect high art. Since this a sequel, the filmmakers decided to pull the old change-of-scenery trick by heading across the pond. The Muppets seek “to conquer the world” with the help of their shady new manager, Dominic (Ricky Gervais), who has a dastardly plan involving many, many heists throughout Europe. So the Muppets have excitedly taken their show on the road, but all is not as it appears. Heists and prison stints abound, and frenetic action takes place. It’s all in good fun though because it’s the Muppets. You love the Muppets, right? Everyone does. Nobody can say a single bad thing about anything involving the Muppets. My fingers won’t let me do it either even though I live to trash movies. There’s a special something about these creatures that will forgive even a less than amazing installment.
This sequel is basically the Kermit show. Miss Piggy had decided that she and Kermit will finally get married (for real this time). Kermit, of course, has cold feet. Kermit gets kidnapped and ends up in a Siberian prison. In his place appears the Kermie doppelganger, Constantine, who relishes his reputation as “the most dangerous frog in the world.” Tina Fey stars as a Russian prison guard who loves song and dance. She really, really loves Kermit. (Oh, Tina.) The film turns into a madcap tale of vaudevillian proportions and confused identities. There is a happy ending. You’ll immediately forget about this film and go home and watch The Muppets again.
With Jason Segel and Amy Adams’ married couple out of the picture, the film lacks the same sense of heart as its predecessor. Not only did Segel star in the movie, he also co-wrote it. Now that he’s gone, the soul has left the building, too. Mostly. Muppets Most Wanted is pandemonium. That’s not a bad thing and actually matches the spirit of the old Muppet Show. The first movie was a joyous mess too, but its shameless enthusiasm and tear-jerking moments won us all over. This sequel is more of the same but only repeats the frenetic elements of the first film. It still works but isn’t as enjoyable. Most of the time, Hollywood’s effort to squeeze money out of nostalgia fails miserably. This franchise still has it nailed, but this sequel won’t win your heart the way the first movie did.
Although there are no winning human performances in this film, the cameos are great fun. We get to see Celine Dion (Miss Piggy’s idol!), James McAvoy, P. Diddy, Danny Trejo, Chloe Moretz, and sweet little Tommy Hiddleston. Christoph Waltz shows up to … waltz, which is seriously cute. Still, the humans are a big distraction here. They were integral to the first film’s story, but the second movie could do without them. I guess Hollywood can’t give up its “starpower.”
Your kids will love this movie. As long as you don’t expect it to be as delightful as the first film, you’ll like it just fine. Muppets Most Wanted is exactly what Hollywood needs: good, old-fashioned entertainment that doesn’t talk down to its audience or treat it like a group of morons with no attention span. The film includes some pleasant throwbacks to Muppets heydays, and overall, it’s sheer fun.
Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can be found at Celebitchy.