Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted

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Well, it’s that time again.  Time for….wait!  Another Muppet Movie?  But the last one didn’t even gross $100 million domestically! And take it from me.  That last line was stolen from a couple of grumpy geezers that hurl insults from the theater balcony.

Time for that checklist again.  Introduction?  Oh.  Here it is.  After three years of hard work, the Muppets have finally created a sequel.  The title?  Muppets Most Wanted, of course!  A movie released by Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films.

Now you know what a Muppet is by now.  If you haven’t, go watch the last movie.  It will give you a nice little crash course.  Now we all know how sequels are supposed to do in the box office.  They usually perform better than the last movie.  As for this next installment in the Muppets saga, we will see.  Does Muppets Most Wanted stand out as a spectacular sequel full of comedy gold or are they due for retirement?  Stay tuned, folks.  You are about to find out.

The movie begins literally where the last movie ended.  The Muppets are offered a sequel and they don’t waste any time in getting started on it.  It starts with a musical, albeit humorous montage with them singing about sequels, complete with celebrity cameos from Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

When the number ends, we are shown the plot.  The tour manager Dominic (Ricky Gervais) is hired by the Muppets to take them on a world tour.  While this is taking place,  Constantine the Frog (Matt Vogel), the number one most dangerous criminal in the world, escapes from Gulag 38B, a Siberian Gulag.  The frog is mean, green and he bears an eerie resemblance to Kermit the Frog.

Meanwhile, the Muppets are ready to begin their world tour.  And their mode of travel is by map?  No.  That was the last movie.  They have upgraded to a train.  And not just any train.  A train that can cross the Atlantic Ocean.  So if you’re still traveling by map, you’re considered a peasant.

Once in Berlin,  the Muppets decide to perform their show in a shabby venue.  Dominic disagrees, and gets them a more prestigious location.  The Muppets have a bunch of crazy requests for the show.  Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson) keeps hinting at her green crush about marriage.  All this drives Kermit (Steve Whitmire) crazy.  Taking Dominic’s advice, he leaves the train to go for a walk. While on the walk, he is assaulted by a disguised Constantine.  Constantine puts a fake mole on Kermit, making him look just like himself.  He escapes and Kermit is successfully framed.  With the authorities believing that he is Constantine, Kermit is arrested and taken to the Siberian Gulag.

Meanwhile, Constantine covers his tracks.  He covers his mole up with green paint, fooling everyone into believing that he’s Kermit.  Everyone except Animal (Eric Jacobson).  While the Muppets are performing, Constantine joins Dominic in stealing some paintings at a museum.

Wait!  Dominic is helping Constantine?  What’s going on here?  With Kermit out of the picture, things can only get worse.  How do the Muppets fare on their world tour?  What are Constantine and Dominic up to?  With Kermit at the Gulag, how will he escape?  Watch the movie and find out!

The movie was quite refreshing in that it actually had a plot this time!  The last movie didn’t really have a solid plot.  Get the gang together, save the studio, make the movie….wait!  The movie’s already over.  On to the sequel!  Unlike the last movie, this movie actually had a stronger sense of conflict throughout the movie.  There was action with musical numbers sprinkled throughout.

As for the characters, they were pretty much the same from the last movie, with a couple of new characters.  You have the usual Muppet Gang, along with the newcomers.  Dominic, Constantine, Nadya (Tina Fey) and more celebrity cameos than what you can shake a stick at.  While the new Muppet Walter (Peter Linz) wasn’t utilized that much in this movie, the focus was on Constantine, who pretty much stole the spotlight.  And with that, I forgive them for not spending a lot of time on Walter.  While he’s not used that much, he does play an important role later on in the movie.  And I think this was handled well.  The music, too was pretty good with Constantine’s track “I’ll Get You What You Want” standing out.  I especially liked the Kermit vs. Constantine dynamic at the end.

While this movie did do a few things well, we are unfortunately at the part of the review where I list all of my nitpicks.  A real big one is in Gulag 38B, where Kermit is prisoner.  For this one, I felt that there could’ve been more conflict.  After Kermit’s numerous attempts to escape the place,  Nadya forces Kermit to organize the Gulag’s annual prison talent show.  Really?!  With this kind of conflict, you might as well tell him to organize a kid’s birthday party.  To add more suspense to the movie, I would’ve had Nadya threaten Kermit’s life.  Even if a timetable of three days was allotted for his execution, I wouldn’t have any problem with that.  Most books and movies have a timetable that is just convenient enough for the heroes to come and save the day in the nick of time.  As contrived as that, there is at least something at stake.  And it saves Kermit the hassle of trying to create a prison version of The Muppet Show.  But fortunately, there is redemption.  There is a dynamic wedding scene that you do not want to miss.  With Miss Piggy’s wedding, this more than makes up for the major plot error in the Gulag.

So how did Muppets Most Wanted do compared to the last movie?  Did they upstage their last performance?  Sadly, not even close.  If you want the numbers from all the past Muppets movies, go here  (or wait until I repost my review of the first Muppets movie).  Looking at the previous movie, this installment of The Muppets fell short.  While The Muppets grossed $88.6 million domestically and $165.2 million internationally, Muppets Most Wanted only grossed $46.9 million domestically and $61.7 internationally.  That’s not even half of the first one’s international gross!  With the sequel’s dismal numbers, The Muppets are doomed to extinction.  While I still see them as an important staple of popular culture, the numbers show that they are past their prime for making movies.  But to put a positive spin on it, this is the third highest grossing Muppets movie of the eight that they have made.  And with a solid plot to boot, it is a great improvement from the last movie.  But I can’t overlook the mistake that they made in the Gulag scenes.  The wasted potential and lost opportunity to make this movie more dramatic.  And for that, I give this movie Waldorf and Statler’s seal of approval.  And to get a seal from them is never a good thing.  I give Muppets Most Wanted a 3 out of 5.

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