Director: James Bobin
Cast: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell
Running Time: 113 minutes
Release Date: March 28th
You have to admire their furry front. Given the huge success of the last Muppets movie (essentially a reboot), a sequel was inevitable but – in true fashion – the Henson creations aren’t about to play it straight. Picking up literally where The Muppets left off we’re straight into a song and dance number that not only sets up the new film but comments magnificently on the nature of the movie business and throws in a killer Swedish Chef / Ingmar Bergman gag for good measure. The message may be that sequels are never quite as good as the originals but surely we’re on safe ground here, right?
Hmm. Muppets Most Wanted IS good but just not quite as good as its predecessor. Which is a shame as there is much to like. The storyline takes the gang on a world tour, allowing room for lots of glamorous locations (including Dublin) and the introduction of a classic villain in the form of Kermit-a-like Constantine. It’s all knockabout family fun, with plenty of snappy one-liners, sight gags, great songs from Bret McKenzie and smart social references. And any movie featuring Miss Piggy has got to be worth a look.
It’s not the puppets that are the problem here, though, it’s the humans. Of the leads, Ricky Gervais is just simply sleep walking through the kind of character he’s played over and over again. He even does a funny dance. Given the depth of performance and writing that he’s exhibited in the past, especially on the stunning Derek, this feels pretty sub-standard. At least Tina Fey approaches her role of the cliched Russian prison warden with gusto, but it’s Ty Burrell who saves the day. Essentially playing a European version of his Modern Family character, his French police chief is perfectly drawn and beautifully executed.
Yet the stars keep coming. Whereas The Muppets made do with the sweet duo of Amy Adams and Jason Segel, Most Wanted reels out a succession of pointless celebrity cameos. So you get Soairse Ronan as a ballet dancer, Usher as a usher, James McAvoy delivering a parcel, Tom Hiddleston as an escapologist, Lady Gaga as a waitress. The list goes on. When P Diddy appears out of nowhere for no reason at all you can only bury your head in your hands.
While such diversions were probably jolly good fun for all involved, they’re less engaging for an audience who would rather see Piggy slamming a frog into a window, Fozzy’s engagingly bad jokes or a catchy musical number. Still held and shoulders above of much the kids movies that you’ll need to sit through this year, Muppets Most Wanted is worryingly self-indulgent and baggy around the ages. Put it this way, when it comes to sequels it’s The Lego Movie 2 that’ll have us queuing round the block ahead of the return of Kermit & co.