By Darin Skaggs
In 2011 The Muppets came out with riveting success. It was full of big laughs, hilariously beautiful music and an optimistic look at nostalgia. It was a return to original material for The Muppets in over a decade and a return to original quality in almost thirty years. Jason Segal was the heart of the operations and has not returned for the new Muppet movie, James Bobin’s Muppets Most Wanted.
The story is about Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog and looks just like Kermit the Frog with a mole. He devises a master plan to frame Kermit and take his place on the Muppet World Tour. This goes swell for Constantine and along with his number two, Dominic Badguy played by Ricky Gervais, they travel around the world stealing from museums near stages that the Muppets are preforming at. And all this is happening while Kermit is locked away in a Russian prison lead by Nadya played by Tina Fey. Meanwhile during all of that, Sam the Eagle and Jean Pierre Napoleon played by Ty Burrell are forced to be federal agent partners that in some what humorous ways are trying to solve the crimes happening near and around the Muppets.
The film actually starts right where the last film left off. It turns out that The Muppets were just shooting a movie about how they got back together. All the cheering fans turn out to be extras, the camera crew packs up their bags and heads out. The Muppets contemplate what to do next. They do the only thing they can do. Make a sequel! There is a wonderful song about making a sequel that pokes fun at the previous Muppet films, films in general and the fact the sequel can never be as good. Sadly, they get that last part right. The original The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets all can be classified as some of the funniest films of all time. This one however does not match up with its predecessors. While having some very funny moments including a Muppet joyously finding out he could have quit being a Muppet all along or characters saying that they haven’t been in focus enough not all the jokes hit there mark. Some of the jokes seemed to only be aimed for children and are not dry enough to be the Muppets main sense of humor. In the last film and a lot of Muppet movies the songs are always a highlight. Bret McKenzie, who wrote the music for the 2011 film is back but you can’t really tell. The songs, with the exception of the first one and a ballad from Miss Piggy, will not be stuck in your head nor will you find yourself singing them to yourself.
It is apparent that there is a pattern here. This series of films is mirroring the first series of Muppet films. The previous film makes many references to the original The Muppet Movie spending most of the time in the car, all the Muppets getting back together again and at one point Kermit literally says “Didn’t you see our first movie?” This new film is no different with many call backs to The Great Muppet Caper including the Muppets being witness to a series of crimes, the film taking place in a foreign land, the very first song being about movies and Sam the Eagle calls the Muppets weirdoes. Although the film doesn’t fully capture the magic of Muppet Caper, it keeps up the mirroring of the first couple films from the Muppets.
The last film was saying a lot about the nostalgia and how you should not wallow in it. Just make the best of the now, relive what you can and find new goals and adventures. It was told in a sweet way and didn’t overtake from the humor of the film. This movie’s themes are odd and complicated. The beginning with the crowd being extras means The Muppets cannot be as good as they once were. They don’t care though; they have the true fans, who are the people who come to this film. The film is constantly telling us that Jim Henson may be gone, but we will do our best to make up for that. Constantine replaces Kermit and gives no attempt to do an accent or be a caring leader and none of his lifelong friends can tell. The film is trying to say that after the death of Henson no one could really understand what made Kermit be Kermit. All the true fans just kind of accepted this and did not say anything, much like the Muppet gang being suspicious that Constantine is not the real Kermit but never admitting it. There is a point where a few characters including lifelong fan, Walter, and best friend to Kermit, Fozzy Bear figure out what is going on and they go to find the real Kermit. When they do find him, Kermit proclaims “No one knew I was gone?” The last movie brought the Muppets back from the grave, this movie wonders why they ever had to die in the first place and why it took so long to bring them back. There is even a Miss Piggy song all about it.
This film explores people not giving much effort to beloved characters like season four of Community or the third X-Men film. It has unmemorable songs but a good amount of gags. The film is not bad it just doesn’t land perfectly. If you need to pass the time watch it, but this is not going to be a beloved classic.