It’s here! Finally! The newest Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted, hit theaters on March 21st and it was even better than I had hoped!
James Bobin has returned to direct. He did not outdo his work on The Muppets, but he matched it, providing a film that complimented it and the Muppet franchise. Once again, this movie has reawakened the magic and traditions of the Muppet movies from the 1980s.
The movie begins just as The Muppets ended. The grand finale musical number has just wrapped, all of the extras have left, and the Muppet gang is not sure what to do next. They decide to take their newly reunited act on the road with Kermit as their leader. It does not take long for the Muppets to cause a classic Kermit flip out when they each have their own crazy ideas for their new show, as when Gonzo suggests an indoor running of the bulls!
Luckily for the Muppets, a worldly and suave talent agent, Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) offers to represent them. They sign for a major world tour which includes stops in major European cities to sold out crowds. Unfortunately, Constantine (Kermit’s doppelganger with a mole and hilarious accent) catches a brooding Kermit alone, glues a mole to his face, and assumes his identity. Kermit is then sent to a Russian gulag where he is in charge of the talent show and becomes the object of affection of head guard Nadya (Tina Fey). In a strange coincidence, CIA agent Sam the Eagle and Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) start to investigate a string of heists at museums neighboring the Muppets’ concert venues.
At first, I was worried about this movie. The Muppets had set the bar really high, but I was not disappointed. As always, Kermit knows what’s best for the Muppets and is busy trying to analyze all of the available options, but the rest of the Muppets want to jump headfirst into the quickest, self-satisfying option. Kermit flips out. Kermit is separated from the rest of the Muppets, who finally rally together in order to save Kermit.
Hmmm, sounds a tad like Muppets Take Manhattan.
Seeing an “evil” Kermit is pretty entertaining, especially since Constantine is so evil. There is something really fun about seeing an iconic “good guy” being mean. It was interesting to see how puppetry and acting could transform two similar puppets into uniquely individual characters. One of my favorite parts is when he asks Miss Piggy, or “Pig,” why she thinks he wants to be bothered. Come on, you know Kermit has wanted to say the same thing for decades now.
Just like Muppets Take Manhattan, the movie climaxes with a wedding scene. One of the few disappointments in this movie is the wide shot of the wedding. Of course it is larger than life and elegant, but it would have been great to have seen a recreation of the seating from the wedding in Muppets Take Manhattan. Sadly, The Muppet Show Muppets and Sesame Street Muppets are no longer linked, making future cameos and such scenes impossible. Yet another link to the 1984 movie is the reprise of “Together Again.” This time, however, it is “Together Again…Again.”
…and the cameos! This movie includes the most elite list of cameo appearances of any Muppet movie since The Muppet Movie. It boasts appearances by Sean Combs, Lady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Groban, Salma Hayek, Tom Hiddleston, Frank Langella, Ray Liotta, James McAvoy, Chloe Grace Moretz, Usher, Celine Dion, Christoph Waltz, Stanley Tucci, Danny Trejo, and Tony Bennett. Celine Dion even sings a show-stopping song with Miss Piggy and Kermit!
Just like in The Muppets, classic Muppet characters who had been ignored since the 1980s have resurfaced. This is the movie that has utilized Sam the Eagle the most. One of his most memorable scenes is with the Interpol agent as they, in a strangely Freudian scene, compare their badges. The newer Muppets Tonight characters are mostly not seen except for Pepe the King Prawn. He has been regulated to the background along with Rizzo the Rat who had once shared the limelight with Gonzo. In fact, Rizzo quips that new character, Walter, had an entire movie that revolved around his joining the Muppets, putting older characters on the back burner.
Walter does return as one of the main Muppet characters. He is more level headed than the other Muppets, but is not the leader that Kermit is. My biggest gripe is that none of Kermit’s friends, who he has known for decades, could tell the difference between him and Constantine. I know, if they had, it would have been a terribly short movie, but still. Animal was the only one who could tell, but he couldn’t communicate it well. I just hoped that maybe Walter could have noticed a difference. It would have been an interesting dynamic to have had the older main Muppets disagree and argue with him.
Overall, this is a great direct sequel to The Muppets. It marks a wonderful addition to the franchise as a whole. It would be a nice way to introduce new audiences to the Muppets! I give it 5 out of 5 rubber chickens!