Rated PG for some mild action
Written by James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller
Directed by James Bobin
Starring Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell and more
The magic of true Muppets-style silliness is that it can carry you away whether you were planning to go or not.
“Muppets Most Wanted,” the latest adventure from Jim Henson’s beloved felt troupe, is a little more scattered and thin than 2011’s “The Muppets Movie.” But it’s still a great, fun adventure, full of wonderfully ridiculous flourishes and the best buddy-cop duo I’ve seen in a very long time. It might not change the world, but it will definitely bring a smile to your face.
Like the classic vaudeville-style comedies the Muppets honor, the plot basically boils down to a road trip movie crossed with one of the most ludicrous identity switches in the history of movies. Constantine, the most dangerous frog in the world, has swapped places with our beloved Kermit and his using the Muppets to help cover a string of thefts. The two sound nothing alike Р kudos to voice artist Matt Vogel for creating a voice straight out of an old Cold War spy movie Р but somehow no one notices a swap has been made.
The movie has a much higher quotient of high jinks than deeper meaning, including a frog-related fight scene, convicts doing both a Broadway dance number and beautiful pas de deux, the wedding of the century, the indoor running of the bulls and “Gone With the Chicken.” None of it makes any sense, but you get the sense that neither the creators or the Muppets themselves care much about that. They just want to put on a good show, and they do an excellent job of that.
It’s a great movie for any Kermit fans, with the green guy once again proving that he’s secretly the only grown-up in the bunch. It’s sweet to see him feel appreciated, even if it’s by terrifying-looking convicts, and watching the differences between him and Constantine offer a fascinating look at how much personality can be put into a what is essentially a cloth shape.
Walter, the sweet little super-fan Muppet introduced in the 2011 movie, still isn’t quite interesting enough to justify all the attention he’s given (a fact the filmmakers acknowledge in a brief, wonderful appearance by Rizzo the rat). Still, he’s given a much smaller slice of screen time here, and the little guy is easier to love when he blends in with the rest of the crew.
The human cast does an admirable job keeping up with the Muppets, with Tiny Fey clearly having fun as a gulag prison guard who seems more like a stern-but-fond camp counselor than an actual prison guard. Ricky Gervais is a ton of fun as Dominic Badguy (“pronounced Bad-gee, it’s French”) adding just a touch of sleazy panache to his character’s silliness.
My favorite duo, though, are Sam the Eagle and Ty Burrell’s Jean Pierre Napoleon. Apparently, Sam has joined the CIA at some point, and he’s paired up with Interpol-agent Napoleon in a perfect parody of every reluctant partner duo in every action movie ever.
I laughed, I gasped, and as the proverbial curtain went down I wanted to give them all a round of applause. Even if it’s not quite as great as their last one, the Muppets still put on a really good show.