Muppets Most Wanted is great! Really great! It is one of the best Muppet movies to ever be released. I just wanted to get that out of the way unless you were confused about my opinion of the movie.
I love ranking things that I am passionate about. For instance, in The Dark Knight Trilogy, my order of favorites in the series is The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, and lastly, The Dark Knight. (Oh yes, I just said that!) And there have been a lot of Muppet films with varying degrees of quality. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew says it himself in the opening number of Muppets Most Wanted, “I don’t mean to be a stickler, but this is the seventh sequel to our original motion picture.” So while The Muppet Movie and Muppets Take Manhattan will ALWAYS be my favorite Muppet films, there’s something very special about the two most recent Muppet movie installments; The Muppets and its sequel, Muppets Most Wanted.
Muppets Most Wanted is a truest “sequel” in Muppet film history. The film literally begins where The Muppets ended, by displaying a “THE END” title card to start things off! The original Muppet trilogy (including the less desirable The Great Muppet Caper) all had different directors, songwriters and tone. With Muppets Most Wanted, James Bobin came back to direct, Nicholas Stoller is once again the writer, and Oscar Winner (for The Muppet’s “Man or Muppet”) Bret McKenzie lent his genius musical talents to the film. Because I view The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted as one long piece, I cannot say which film I love more. Whereas I can say without hesitation that The Muppet Movie will ALWAYS be my favorite Muppet film of all.
Meanwhile, Muppets Most Wanted does have a significantly different tone than The Muppets. This is mainly due to the movie focusing more on the actual Muppets characters themselves rather than their celebrity co-stars. Jason Segel and Amy Adams, as great as they are, had more than desired screen-time in The Muppets; that’s mostly because the movie was tasked with introducing the Muppet characters to a new generation of fans. But the Muppets Most Wanted’s human cast, also a phenomenal ensemble, played by Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey, never attempted to wrangle away the spotlight from the true stars of the film, the Muppets.
The scene-stealer of Muppets Most Wanted is Constantine, an evil doppelganger of Kermit that has infiltrated the Muppets to work with Dominic Badguy, played by Ricky Gervais. Their goal: to commit ultimate heists while the Muppets are on a world tour. Because of his actions, Constantine was the most standout character in Muppets Most Wanted, but also was the film’s biggest determent. Let me explain.
Constantine is a brilliant new character, who despises the “Maaaaaaaaaaaapets” and “Miss Pigg”! He looks almost exactly like Kermit except for a mole on his face, a more “evil” shade of green, and ferocious eyes. Everything that comes out of this diabolical frog’s mouth is a gem. Let me run down how he refers to the Muppets; Scooter as “The Little Man with Glasses”, Fozzie as “Fonzie”, Miss Piggy as “Miss Pigg”, and Animal as “The Dog”. His complete and utter disdain for The Muppets is shown throughout the film, as Dominic literally forces Constantine to attempt to emulate the characteristics of Kermit so as to not make the Muppet’s suspicious. I thought Tex Richman was great as the villain in The Muppets, and Doc Hopper was brilliant in The Muppet Movie, but this is the first Muppet film where the primary antagonist is an actual Muppet! As I said earlier, this movie focuses more on the Muppet characters than the humans in the film, and Constantine’s presence is the principle example.
The only detriment with Constantine and Dominic Badguy (referred by Constantine as “Number Two”) is that I honestly couldn’t care less about the heists that they were pulling off. To me, it was wasted screen time. Their burgle….burglegle…..ahem, burglaries always occurred while The Muppet Show was airing in front of hundreds of people, thus creating their alibi. But I didn’t care about the heists; I just wanted to see more of The Muppet Show! That was part of the joy of seeing The Muppets. When I first saw the film in the theater, I couldn’t believe that I was watching The Muppet Show opening theme song being performed on a large movie screen. And while it does also happen again in Muppets Most Wanted, in Spanish no less, I wish they showed more classic Muppet bits like “Pigs in Space” or “Veterinarian’s Hospital” or, dare I dream, bits with The Swedish Chef and/or Bunsen and Beaker! But nonetheless, Constantine “stole” the film, plain and simple. (I’ve thought of a brilliant role for Constantine, if they continue to use the character moving forward. They should put him in the balcony with Statler and Waldorf, giving The Muppets yet another heckler to make fun of poor “Fonzie” and the rest of the Muppets.)
Speaking about Fozzie Bear, I am glad that he had another big role in this film just as he did in The Muppets and The Muppet Movie. He is a character that has always warmed my heart; he was my favorite Muppet since I was a child and his bad jokes and child-like antics never get old for me. I am also glad for the continued use of Walter, the star of The Muppets, who played the character that “got the Muppets back together again”. Walter gets some flak from Muppet fans because he has such a big role in the recent films without earning his stripes, so to speak, and that is even acknowledged in the film in a very clever way. But I love Walter, and while in reality it was Jason Segel’s genius that reinvigorated the Muppet franchise, in my heart I know that it was Walter that brought the Muppets back together.
While Constantine is with the Muppets, Kermit is trapped in a Siberian Gulag, having traded places with Constantine. The scenes in the gulag are a trip, with many familiar celebrity faces that are playing inmates, with Tina Fey’s character playing Nadya, a high-ranking prison guard. Also great is the camaraderie between Ty Burrell’s performance as French Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon and his interactions with Sam the Eagle. Sam the Eagle plays himself, the only difference is that he is a CIA agent tasked with hunting down Constantine and Dominic Badguy. These characters start off at odds, and then as the movie progresses…..you find that they are not so different….after all.
Miss Piggy has to be mentioned because she is, of course, in the thick of it when it comes to the Constantine/Kermit switcharoo. Kermit was always apprehensive of committing to marriage to Miss Piggy, but Constantine has no problem using “Miss Pig” as a crucial part of his villainous agenda. Because of Miss Piggy’s confusion about Kermit and Constantine’s identities, it is the perfect time to bring up the music performed in this film, written once again by the Muppet musical mastermind Bret McKenzie. The songs involving Constantine, Kermit, and Miss Piggy are the most poignant in Muppets Most Wanted. The rest of the film’s music is absolute perfection, channeling what Paul Williams did so well when he wrote the music for The Muppet Movie.
Muppets Most Wanted on Blu-Ray has an extended version, “The Unnecessarily Extended Edition”, which contains an extra 13 minutes of footage, bringing the movie to an even two hours. Four of the songs from the Muppets Most Wanted soundtrack were shortened in the theatrical release. Three of those four songs are now shown in full! Additional scenes include a hilarious scene with Constantine and Dominic Badguy talking about #1’s and #2’s inside a bathroom. And one of my favorite scenes from The Muppet Movie with Kermit and Fozzie in a car is reenacted! Look for it! There’s more to be found in these extra 13 minutes of footage, and for the most part, these scenes improve the overall quality of the film. I never expect to watch the theatrical version of the film ever again. It’s simply an inferior product.
The additional special features include a “Statler & Waldorf Cut”, which is exactly what you’d expect, a very short film where they mock the Muppets. There is a funny gag with Rizzo the Rat, following-up on a very clever joke that he made in Muppets Most Wanted. I don’t want to ruin it, so you have to see it for yourself. “The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppet History” is funnier than your typical blooper featurette because of Ricky Gervais’ outlandish and bombastic laughter! And the final extra feature is an “I’ll Give You What You Want” music video performed by Bret McKenzie himself! Given that this is the best song in Muppets Most Wanted, it is very neat to see an alternate take.
So that’s my review! I hope I didn’t give away too much of the plot and you can go into the movie relatively surprised. Any Muppet die-hard fans will go ga-ga (like Camilla the Chicken) over the film, and I suspect that those not as into the Muppets will love this movie too.