Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Just like the foreboding lyrics in the opening song ‘We’re Doing a Sequel‘ so aptly jokes “…everybody knows the sequel’s never quite as good.” So what we have here is a bit of a subpar sequel. As far as Muppets movies go, this was… a bit of a generic and painfully paint by the numbers, without having much of anything to make it really pop, not even the celebrity cameos.

My dissatisfaction is firmly rooted to the fact that I didn’t really care much for the whole central caper part of plot (which is pretty consistent when it comes to my feelings concerning the Great Muppets Caper) with Kermit’s evil look-a-like taking Kermit’s place in the troupe and plotting to commit this über master crime that never really manages to entertain on its own merit nor does it build up to a particularly rewarding or satisfying climax. The thefts themselves were entirely on the dull side, though seeing Christopher Waltz dancing the waltz with Sweetums was amusingly tongue in cheek, and evil-Kermit as a villain was just terrible. Evil-Kermit’s a semi-decent idea but in execution he’s entirely boring with little to no redeeming qualities beyond being slightly amusing when he acts douchy towards his henchman, Number Two. Evil-Kermit, or Constantine as he’s called was just Kermit with a stupid sounding fake Russian accent and an extra mole. As a concept it ought to have been at least momentarily amusing in a really ironic way but it just wasn’t. Evil-Kermit literally had no appealing, villainous and charming bones to be found in his body. Wait, do frogs even have bones? Well, you know what I mean.

It also felt odd how after just spending an entire movie bringing Walter into the Muppet family, here Walter felt almost entirely sidelined in favor of just using the classic Mupppets. He did contribute a little towards the end but otherwise he was primarily just wallpaper. So, what, you already were at loss with what to do with him? This is a bit of a nitpick, I fully admit, but when you’re literally doing a sequel that continues exactly where the last one ended, couldn’t you have tried to at least try and do more with Walter?

Further complaints about the movie would, for example, be the entire Gulag portion of the plot, which could have been an okay side-plot but instead it ends up feeling a bit superfluous. Kermit organizing a talent show for hardened criminals was a funny idea, and I even admit that seeing them performing “Working in the Coal Mine” as well as having actual try outs for the talent show was very funny, but these hardly made it worth the time spent on what ended up being merely a sideshow B-plot keeping Kermit busy until it was time for his escape. It did not help that the prison gang cast didn’t really get enough time to be developed or even to do much aside from few silly one-off gags, and even when you had Tina Fey as the chief jailer, it still felt bland, and one-note. here’s just a lot of untapped potential going to waste in the Gulag, like when they did the reveal that Tina Fey had fallen for Kermit romantically, only for it to then not go anywhere. As weird as it sounds, the entire highlight of the Gulag portion of the movie was Ray Liotta’s background cameos. He doesn’t really do anything particularly memorable, but for whatever reason he got me really excited every time he appeared as part of the gang.

I’m not the biggest Ricky Gervais fan out there but usually I find him midly amusing. Here, not so much. He was, IMO, awfully miscast as the secondary bad guy. It really felt like he only landed the gig because he happened to be pretty hot around the time the movie was being developed. If I’m not entirely mistaken, this movie would have been cast right about when Gervais had just hosted the Golden Globes for the third time in a row, so I’m willing to bet that is exactly why he landed the role instead of somebody more fitting. Now, to be fair, I liked him in his song and dance number where he was tapdancing but otherwise, meh. He doesn’t really give you a performance that would make him naturally fit amongst the Muppets without being overshadowed by them. He’s more suited for small cameo, not a secondary antagonist. Even his cheeky, on the nose name, Dominic Badguy, kinda wore down pretty quickly.

To be perfectly honest, the best thing by far in the entire movie was Sam “the” Eagle and his Interpol liaison/partner Jean Pierre Napoleon, played by Ty Burell. Their interrogation song in particular was pure fun, and one of the true highlights of the movie. They had great chemistry together, and seeing the two of them trying to one up each other was delightfully over the top. The running gag of the two having these minor conflicts due to the contrast between Sam’s very serious, all about the business American mentality vs Burell’s more relaxed European mindset was very droll. Sam can so easily be a boring, no fun allowed one-note character but he really shone here as the overzealous by the book CIA agent being annoyed by European way of running things.

I wouldn’t exactly say Muppets Most Wanted is the worst Muppets movie in existence, but unless you by accident just happen to come by it, there is very little reason to make any effort tracking it down just to see it. You are far better off just watching the few okay songs on Youtube.

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