Muppets Most Wanted is very much a sequel to The Muppets, it’s aware of that fact so much that it takes its opening moments to decide, through a musical number, what sort of sequel it’s going to be, after beginning exactly where the previous movie ended. That’s not to say that it’s just the same thing all over again, Most Wanted is simply different and great on its own merits.
This time around there’s more focus on the original Muppets, as Jason Siegel didn’t opt to return, there are more musical numbers, courtesy of Oscar winner (!) and Flight of the Conchords alum Bret McKenzie, and the film is much more of a farce. Less message, more jokes. And that’s not to say that there isn’t heart to proceedings.
The gist of the plot is that with the Muppets’ revived profile from the previous film they take their show on the road, with a tour through Europe. Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned when Kermit is covertly replaced by Constantine, his Russian master criminal doppelganger who plans to use the cover to perpetrate audacious heists.
It’s acutely aware of its own silliness, frequently breaking the fourth wall and doing all sorts of shenanigans. For instance, the Muppets’ train takes them from America to Germany and mainland Europe, all in one trip, without batting an eye. Returning director James Bobin shepherds all of this with tight pacing and confidence.
The music by Bret McKenzie is once again a star all of its own. The aforementioned sequel song, a fantastic disco ballad sung by Kermit’s doppelganger (which is a legitimately fantastic song in its own right) and a playful interrogation song are the best of the bunch, but there isn’t a complete dud among them.
Ty Burell plays a French inspector, Jean Pierre Napoleon, who teams up with Sam the Eagle to investigate the crimes and is great fun in a role which is basically Inspector Clouseau, except much better than Steve Martin’s reboot version. Ricky Gervais plays the fantastically named Dominic Badguy (pronounced ‘Bad-gee’, it’s French) who takes over management of the Muppets’ tour, but of course he has ulterior and nefarious motives (go figure). The human cast is rounded out with Tina Fey as Nadya, the supervisor at the Gulag that Kermit is mistakenly sent to. She’s having a ball the entire time, delivering lines with a Russian accent. Then of course there are the cameos, with a slathering of celebrities taking on practically every single minor role. James McAvoy, Tom Hiddleston and Stanley Tucci are highlights, while Ray Liotta, Jemaine Clement and Danny Trejo get slightly beefier roles as inmates who deliver a steady stream of laughs throughout.
Muppets Most Wanted is a great, fun little film that’s sure to bring an almost permanent smile to your face and have you humming along to the infectious tunes. Certainly less prestigious than its 2011 predecessor, but a more than solid outing for what it is: A joyful, warm experience.
You Wanna Unicorn: I’ll give it to you.
You Wanna Little Cupcake: I’ll give it to you.
You Wanna Go to the Moon: I’ll see what I can do.