Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Pretty Good Muppet Caper

It is a fact that everyone loves The Muppets.  If you deny this statement, I will automatically not believe you and pity you.  The Muppets have been around for as long as I could remember, so when they "rebooted" the franchise in 2011, I thought it was kind of weird.  The Muppets are an institution that have always been there.  

As a huge fan of the last movie, I was excited to see them all again, but I was also wary.  The original title (The Muppets Again!) was scrapped, and the trailers made me nervous.  It looked too gimmick-y, too different that the 2011 sequel that I loved so much.  As Muppets Most Wanted started, I realized that I just needed to shut up and enjoy the ride.  Muppets Most Wanted will make you laugh and smile, and that's all one could really hope for, right?

The sequel opens quite seriously where The Muppets left off.  As the extras file out and the crew starts packing up, Kermit and the gang wonder why the camera is still hanging around.  The studio must have granted them a sequel!  Ricky Gervais immediately shows up as Dominic Badguy, a tour manager who wants to represent The Muppets, and he suggests that they go on a European world tour while they are still hot.  Level-headed Kermit has his reservations but eventually agrees.  Meanwhile, the world's most dangerous frog, Constantine, breaks out of a Siberian gulag.  At Dominic's suggestion, Kermit goes on a walk and Constantine, who could be Kermit's twin, switches places with our beloved, green hero.  

Dominic sets up for The Muppets to perform sold out gigs all over Europe, but he and Constantine really have their eyes on a number of heists.  None of The Muppets (except for Animal) sense that Kermit has been acting strangely.  His new broken English is often hilarious, and Miss Piggy thinks her man has finally come around to committing to her the way she has always dreamed.  Ty Burrell plays a French detective hot on Constantine's trail, and Tina Fey pops up as the prison guard who oversees Kermit's miserable stay in the gulag.  

Muppets Most Wanted reminded me a little bit of The Great Muppet Caper, my all-time favorite Muppet movie.  It has exotic locales, fuzzy intrigue, and celebrity cameos out the wazoo.  Keep your eyes peeled for Miranda Richardson, Tom Hiddleston, and even Russell Tovey.  I squealed when I saw his name in the credits, because I swore I saw him briefly as a delivery man.  None of the parents in the theater seemed to understand my glee.  

The only thing to complain about is that there were moments of visual effects that are distracting.  Not because they are necessarily bad (the final celebrity cameos are obviously green screened poorly), but because they remind me of how amazing it was to see these characters in the 80's and 90's.  Remember when The Muppets rode bicycles?  That blew my mind as a kid, but now it's all too easy.  Not a quibble of the movie per se, but of the reality of it.  

The music delighted me.  A friend of mine (a Muppet enthusiast, if you will) hadn't seen this one yet, and he thinks the music is bad.  Maybe you need to see it in the context of the movie.  All I have to say is that Constantine sings a disco-themed love song to Miss Piggy that made me laugh out loud, and Miss Piggy's duet with Celine Dion didn't disappoint.

You love The Muppets.  Don't deny it.  This time around it's bigger and sillier and more madcap.  It's a romp, and this one will have you smiling all the way until the end.  

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