Muppets Most Wanted
by M. Faust
After the Muppets’ movie career was revived a few years ago to near universal acclaim (as I recall only the Village Voice gave it a bad review), fans were disappointed to learn that Jason Segel would not be on board for a followup. Segel, a lifelong puppet fan (remember his puppet Dracula musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall?), was the public face of the revival, having scripted it as well as starring in it; without him, might the next movie be back in the doldrums of Muppet Treasure Island?
Not to worry. Muppets Most Wanted retains all the rest of the creative crew from the 2011 reboot: co-writer Nicholas Stoller, director James Bobin, and songwriter Bret McKenzie, the latter two known for the Australian comedy troupe Flight of the Conchords. And if it’s a bit below the standard of the last one, well, it opens with a song about sequels that admits they’re never quite as good.
Picking up where The Muppets left off, Muppets Most Wanted finds Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and all the rest trying to figure out how to keep their career momentum rolling. On the advice of their new manager, they embark on a tour of Europe. If he hadn’t pressured them into signing him on, they might have noticed that his name is Dominic Badguy, which he indeed is.
Dominic is played by Ricky Gervais, and while he’s front and center in the film’s advertising, he’s hardly the star of the movie. (Which is probably a good thing, as a little of him can go a long way: His best bit here is a song-and-dance number built around the fact that his singing and dancing skills are minimal at best.) He’s the number two man to the film’s real villain, the Russian (how timely) Constantine, a frog who looks just like—well, see if you can guess.
Constantine has a plan to steal the crown jewels of England, which requires him to take Kermit’s place. He tricks the real frog hero into a Siberian prison, where he passes time by teaching his fellow prisoners to sing and dance. If you had ever wondered what A Chorus Line might be like if it featured Danny Trejo and Ray Liotta, this is your chance to find out. For that matter, if you ever wondered what Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett would look like standing next to each other, this is also your film. (Either he’s very short or she was wearing extra high heels that day.)
Muppets Most Wanted is loaded with celebrity cameos, including a fair number of Disney Channel stars I’ve never heard of, but also (deep breath) Hugh Bonneville, Sean Combs, Rob Corddry, Céline Dion, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Groban, Salma Hayek, Tom Hiddleston, Toby Jones, Frank Langella, Usher Raymond, Miranda Richardson, Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, and Christoph Waltz. Who, of course, dances the waltz.
Watch the trailer for Muppets Most Wanted
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