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“Muppets Most Wanted” – Review (POSITIVE)

March 23, 2014

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 5.52.58 PMBefore I get into discussing the latest Muppet movie, I’d like for everyone to know that I’m a die-hard fan of “Flight of the Concords”. The musical-comedy series that aired on HBO for two seasons was perhaps one of the most innovative satire shows, which holds toe-to-toe with Ricky Gervais’ ”Extras” & ”The Office”. When word that co-creator James Bobin would be directing the previous Muppet film, and fellow Concord, Bret McKenzie would be doing the songs, my heart leaped from my body and tap-danced in joy!

“The Muppet Movie” was an overall hit, with a brilliant supporting leads by Jason Segal & Amy Adams to charm audiences alongside Kermit, Miss, Piggy, and many more. The inclusion of a new character, Walter, whose been loved by many fans, old & new. Segal and his pal Nicholas Stoller brought us a story that showed us why fans love these characters after 35+ years. The Muppets satirical humor, ho-hum song & dance routine is still relevant, even in today’s day and age, is something to be marveled at.

Now, after coming off their success, [James] Bobin returns to direct, and this time taking over co-writing duties with [Nicholas] Stoller, since Segal’s departure. Bret McKenzie has more songs to share, and his buddy Jemaine Clement FINALLY makes an appearance in the Muppet-verse. Now with the addition of Ricky Gervais in a key role of this new adventure, what more could I guy like me ask for? Well…maybe utilize Rizzo the Rat for a change? Although, the filmmakers are well aware of this problem and make a note of it in the film, with the help of smaller/younger/nephew-like frog.

Being the Meta group they are, the Muppets pick up literally after the words “The End” appears at the end of their last film. As the first AD calls for a wrap, the gang is left wondering what to do next? In comes a brilliant musical number about the Hollywood business machine and it’s obsession with spitting out sequels, but to be fair, this is the 7th Muppet movie.

The Muppets meet a (supposed) talent manager by the name of Dominic Badguy (Gervais), who convinces Kermit to take the Muppets on an international world tour, to remind the globe of who they are, and why they should care…so it would seem. Meanwhile, in Siberia, a sinister plot is afoot (besides a beef with Ukraine — too soon?), Constantine-the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit, escapes from prison, and sets out to swap places with the beloved green frog, so that he may steal the famous Crown Jewels.

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 5.53.36 PMOverall, the movie is whacky good time, promised with many surprising cameos, a couple of annoyingly fun musical numbers (perhaps none that are Oscar worthy), and performances that are fun and engaging by Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey. Ironically, one of the things I was excited about was Ricky Gervais, turns out; I wanted more Ty Burrell as the Clouseau-like idiot Interpol agent, who teams up with the CIA’s very own Sam the Eagle. The two make a formidable pair, and share some of the best scenes in the film; more Ty & Sam would’ve been just fine with me.

The story…in comparison to the fan-loving plot of the previous film, its overall caper premise is just…’meh’. It reminded me too much of “National Treasure” & (don’t make fun) “Ernest Goes to Jail”, but then I remembered something…. the opening song.  Normally the second installment in a lot of films isn’t as good as the first, or the success of the first may overshadow its possible success. To come up with a passable sequel, you need, at the very least, a ‘half-decent plot’. For me, the underwhelming plot was the punch line to the opening song!  The movie was supposed to have a ‘half-decent plot’; the opening number (which is the best song in the whole movie by the way) foreshadows this conclusion. It plays us like fools, and it’s enjoying every minute of it!  Good on Bobin & Stoller for writing in such a subtle surprise.

GRADE: B+

Aaron Shore, is a contributing blogger for the film sites of Hudak on Hollywood & Midnight Reviews.

You can follow Aaron on Twitter @DoubleAAProd

 

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