What I’ve Been Watching: Muppets Most Wanted

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The Muppets hit the big screen in 2011 and marked a reboot of sorts for a group of characters that had last been on the big screen in 1999 with the forgettable Muppets from Space.

The reboot was a runaway success, with fans, critics and the general public alike (It even topped this incredibly prestigious end of year list). So, as Muppets Most Wanted‘s opening number makes clear they’re “doing a sequel”. Can it match the standard set by the 2011 film?

Muppets Most Wanted sees Kermit the Frog and company pitted against the evil Constantine (a doppelgänger of Kermit), and his sidekick Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais). Constantine manages to get Kermit thrown in jail while he uses the Muppets’ European tour as a front to carry out his evil plan.

The plot is as silly and throwaway as it sounds, but done with enough wit, charm and humour that it doesn’t really matter. Where the film manages to match or even outdo the original is in terms of the number of cameos (pretty much every single extra seems to be someone famous) as well as the gag count which is exceptionally high.

The punchlines to the gags in question range from reference to The Seventh Seal to moments like Christopher Waltz doing the waltz. Quite frankly if you don’t find the idea of the latter funny, this movie’s probably not for you since there seems to be more puns in this movie than a Tim Vine routine (if you’re American and don’t know who Tim Vine is, click here, you can thank/punch me later).

The movie is certainly entertaining. However, like the recent sequels to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Despicable Me it fails to convincingly make a case for its own existence. By that I mean the story it tells retraces the many of the same beats as its predecessor without packing the same emotional punch.

The Muppets was fun but it also managed to about something. Two brothers, one a man, the other a muppet both trying to find their own identity. Muppets Most Wanted doesn’t even pretend to have such ‘lofty’ ambitions. Perhaps there’s a place for such films but I feel like The Muppets is capable of more.

For most fans the characters are about finding a sense of belonging. None of The Muppets are especially good at their roles, but it doesn’t matter. They’re a bunch of misfits who somehow work together to produce something better than the sum of their parts. It’s a shame that the sequel to The Muppets fails to be any more than a sum of its individually pleasing parts.

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