When the world’s most dangerous frog, Constantine, escapes from a Russian gulag, he and his #2, Dominic Badguy, use Kermit and the Muppets to pull off the greatest heists Europe has ever seen.
Replacing Kermit with Constantine is a brilliant piece of plotting. Having him “run” the Muppets allows the group to play to their absolute zaniest and this is much appreciated after the a bit too serious and reverential tone of The Muppets. I enjoyed The Muppets, but as a fan of The Muppet Show, and all of the fast paced silliness involved in that show week to week, Muppets Most Wanted felt much more my speed. Moving right along with every song, gag and cameo keep the momentum moving and the jokes hit with just as much regularity. I haven’t laughed this much in a movie theater in some time, and while there are plenty of jokes aimed at lifelong Muppets fans you don’t have to be a diehard to have a great time.
Kermit getting thrown in the gulag seems like it might be a bad decision at first, isolating him from the rest of the Muppets, but his story line really comes together in the end. They give you just enough of Kermit’s frustrations before being sent away for you to buy into his rebirth as a show producer and Tina Fey and the gulag cast all find plenty of laughs along the way.
The regional jokes and flavor of all of the stops along the Muppets World Tour play wonderfully and it really helps the film create some diversity and keep things feeling fresh as the gags keep on rolling. The regional cameos are also a lot of fun, and while no cameo is longer than a minute or so, most everyone makes the most of the moment that they get.
Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell secured the other two recurring human roles outside the gulag and they both nail their numbers and the gimmicks of their characters. Gervais in particular I enjoyed, as I usually do, and he does a nice job of projecting the quandary of being a #2. Burrell’s Interpol agent is reduced to a lot of stereotypical European disparaging gags and motivations, but it’s all played for silliness over cruelty, which makes it work, and he is perfectly game for the role.
When it comes to the Muppets, Constantine steals the show, as everything around him had me cracking up. His musical number is also the best of the bunch and it is one of the best Flight of the Conchords songs that isn’t a Flight of the Conchords song. The songs from Bret McKenzie are actually all fantastic, but “I’ll Get What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu)” stands out because it feels so antiquated to the times, yet perfect for The Muppets. Plus, the visual gags that go with the song are perfectly realized.
The way they handled Walter in the film is also kind of perfect. Overexposed in his debut film, here is regulated to the background for much of the picture, but is the perfect voice of reason as The Muppets start to go off the rails under Constantine’s leadership. His love and affection for the brand of “The Muppets” as a representation of how we should feel about them in the last film was almost too much, but here it is exactly what the characters need to hear to remind them why they are so great.
Muppets Most Wanted isn’t going to win over any non-Muppet fans (whoever those terrible people might be), but will be an absolute blast for anyone with a soul. Silly, fast paced and hilarious, it is a fantastic comedy for all ages. The music is as good as ever and I can’t wait to get to spend more time with the Muppets again. More please.
Muppets Most Wanted is an A