Muppets Most Wanted

Coming off the success of their reuniting, Kermit the Frog and the rest of the Muppets wonder what their next move should be.  They are approached by international tour manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) who suggests the whole gang goes on a world tour to strike while the iron is hot.  Kermit is reluctant but Dominic convinces the rest of the crew and Kermit goes along and it’s announced their first stop is in Berlin, Germany.  Meanwhile, the world’s most dangerous frog Constantine, who is a dead ringer for Kermit except for his accent and a mole on his upper lip, breaks out of a Russian gulag in Siberia that is run by Nadya (Tina Fey), the tough-as-nails prison guard.  Constantine has help waiting for him in Europe, none other than Dominic, who Constantine refers to as Number Two.  Dominic suggests Kermit talk a walk to relieve some of the stress he’s feeling over the tour and to get over Miss Piggy’s insistence they get married.  As he’s strolling through a neighborhood, Kermit is attacked by Constantine who glues a mole on Kermit’s face, making them identical.  German police respond to the cries of neighbors as wanted posters showing Constantine’s face are all over the area and Kermit is captured and sent to the Siberian gulag.  Constantine uses green make-up to hide his mole and no one seems to notice the difference except Animal, who can smell that this frog isn’t Kermit.  Working together, Constantine and Number Two plan the Muppets tour stops to coincide with cities where certain items are housed in museums and banks.  These pieces will allow the thieving pair to eventually steal the crown jewels of Great Britain and the tour gives them the opportunity to frame the crimes on the Muppets.  As the crimes progress, CIA operative Sam the Eagle meets with his Interpol counterpart Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) to investigate the thefts.  Part of the ruse includes Constantine, pretending to be Kermit, marrying Miss Piggy.  As the real Kermit sits in his jail cell in the gulag, he is sure his fellow Muppets will soon come to rescue him because they are family.  Nadya disagrees and orders Kermit to take over the annual gulag talent variety show, in part because she has developed a crush on Kermit.
 
As to be expected, “Muppets Most Wanted” is a wild and silly romp that combines a version of the real world with the Muppets and manages to integrate the two seamlessly.  After a while, you forget these are characters made up largely of foam and felt and consider them real people.  That has always been the magic of the Muppets and it is no more evident than in this, their eighth feature film.
 
What separates “Muppets Most Wanted” from 2011’s “The Muppets” is the emphasis on the non-human characters.  In the first film, Jason Segal and Amy Adams were the focus of the story, along with the Muppet characters.  This time, the humans play a secondary role to the Muppets and this apparently released the writers to include a great deal more humor than in the previous release.  “Muppets Most Wanted” may be the most joke-packed film I’ve seen in a long time.  And the upside to all these jokes is that most of them work very well.  There are even a few very subtle gags that may go over the heads of a great many people unless they are paying very close attention.
 
While the human characters are certainly secondary to the Muppets, they are also integral to the plot and they add a great deal to the humor as well.  Tina Fey is fantastic as always.  As Nadya the Russian guard, she is able to mix both a tough demeanor with a softer side that really comes out as Kermit spends more time in the gulag.  She can deliver a throwaway line and wring a huge amount of laughs from it.  Ty Burrell plays a stereotypical Frenchman as the Interpol detective Jean Pierre Napoleon.  Constantly trying to out-do Sam the Eagle, the pair has a brief running gag about the size of their badges.  Their mutual dislike of each other eventually morphs into a begrudging respect then a full bromance.  Burrell manages to turn the clichéd things we have heard about Europeans in general, like their very long vacations, lengthy lunches and very short work days, into good jokes and even endearing qualities.  Burrell’s comic timing is put on full display in the film and it’s masterful.  Ricky Gervais is the human with the most screen time and he’s able to be slimy enough of a bad guy that we kind of don’t like him but he’s also not so bad that we hate him.  After the song “I’m Number One” with Constantine, you actually feel a little sorry for him as the world’s most dangerous frog is also a very bad boss.  Gervais is a versatile comedic actor who paints Dominic with numerous shades of grey and each one fits just right.
 
While there are a few actors who have fairly sizable roles in the film, the most noticeable trait of the cast is the massive number of cameos.  Some are performers who you may not know but were in the film because of their affiliation with Disney, the owner of the Muppets, like Ross Lynch from a Disney Channel show and film.  Others are stars you’ll easily recognize like Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Tom Hiddleston, Zach Galifianakis, Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, Usher, Christoph Waltz, Diddy and many more.  Part of the fun of a Muppets movie is spotting all the quick cameos and seeing if you recognize the performers.  It’s a fun game and you’ll get a workout with this film.
 
“Muppets Most Wanted” is rated PG for mild action.  There is a tiny bit of Muppet on Muppet violence as well as Constantine beating up some guards as he escapes from prison.  It is all very comical and mild.
 
“Muppets Most Wanted” may be a bit more disjointed than its predecessor but I think it delivers more of the humor and zaniness of the “Muppet Show” while also providing some catchy songs often delivered with a comical bent.  I liked “The Muppets” and I really like “Muppets Most Wanted.”
 
“Muppets Most Wanted” gets five guitars out of five.
 
Three new films really want you to open your wallet and fork over some dough.  I’ll do the same based on what you vote for me to see and review next.
 
The Grand Budapest Hotel—The Grand Budapest Hotel tells of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century.
 
Noah—The Biblical Noah suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood.
 
Sabotage—Arnold Schwarzenegger leads an elite DEA task force that takes on the world's deadliest drug cartels. When the team successfully executes a high-stakes raid on a cartel safe house, they think their work is done - until one-by-one the team members mysteriously start to be eliminated. As the body count rises, everyone is a suspect.
 
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film of his choice currently playing in theatres.
 
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
 
Send questions or comments to stanthemovieman@att.net.  Follow Stan on Twitter @moviemanstan.