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Friday
Mar212014

Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets Most Wanted
Directed by: James Bobin
Released on: March 21st, 2014
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Picking up where The Muppets in 2011 ended, Muppets Most Wanted sees the gang touring across Europe, thanks to their new co-manager, Dominic Badguy (pronounced "bad gee"), played by Ricky Gervais.

Immediately, we suspect Dominic has ulterior motives for taking the "weirdo" troupe to Europe, but the Muppets are a trusting bunch and do not notice any of the obvious clues. Besides, Dominic's carefree managerial style is a welcome change from the sternness of their leader, Kermit (voice by Steve Whitmore). Now the Muppets can go crazy on the stage!

Our mistrust of Dominic is confirmed when we discover he is in cahoots with Constantine (voice by Steve Vogel), the world's most dangerous frog and number one criminal. Constantine has just escaped from a Gulag in Siberia. He needs to go incognito, and what better frog to trade places with than Kermit?

Soon Constantine and Dominic, AKA The Lemur — the world's number two criminal — are co-managing the Muppets tour and robbing museums near the shows' venues while Kermit dwells alone in the Gulag under the iron fist of Nadya (Tina Fey).

Despite Constantine's accent and abrasive attitude, none of the Muppets suspect he is a fraud except, one of my favorite Muppets, Animal (voice by Eric Jacobson). Meanwhile, it becomes apparent to Nadya that Kermit is not Constantine, but that will not set him free. There is an upcoming show for the Gulag guards, and somebody has to manage the song and dance of such fellow prisoners as Big Papa (Ray Liotta), Prison King (Jermaine Clement) and Danny Trejo.

While I have not seen all of the Muppet movies, I have seen most of them, and this one is probably my favorite. Unlike The Muppets featuring Amy Adams and Jason Segel, Muppets Most Wanted focuses on the non-human characters while adding a notable new one, Constantine, and bringing back ones from previous Muppet movies — at least for a cameo.

The original songs here by music supervisor/songwriter Bret McKenzie are pretty good. Do not be surprised if kids under 13 will be singing Constantine's "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)" — if the kids can follow the Jabberwocky-like lyrics. On another hoof, the duet between Miss Piggy (voice by Jacobson) and her Piggy Fairy Grandmother (Celine Dion) is rather creepy.

With jokes, entertainment, song and dance for people of many ages, the one thing going against Muppets Most Wanted is the tiresome anti-European jokes about small cars, long holidays, etc. Yeah, because a car's superior MPG and worker benefits are funny? 

And as far as the typical Muppets cameos go: yes, they are here in abundance. Some of their roles are much better — like the ones offered to Saoirse Ronan (probably my favorite), Christoph Waltz (doing a waltz with Sweetums), Josh Groban, James McAvoy, Frank Langella, Miranda Richardson and Salma Hayek — than the ones offered to the likes or performed by Tony Bennett, Sean Combs, Lady Gaga, and Stanley Tucci.

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