Title: Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
Director: James Bobin
Runtime: 112 minutes
When it was announced that Jason Segal was bringing The Muppets back to life in 2011 I had mixed emotions. Yeah, nostalgia is great and all, but would I still enjoy it? The answer was a “hell yeah” because The Muppets was awesome. As soon as I heard the plot outline for Muppets Most Wanted, a big groan escaped my throat, but the cast intrigued me so I headed out to see it this opening weekend.
The film opens exactly where the previous film ended. Seriously: it opens with “The End”. At this point, the film breaks the fourth wall bringing my hopes and dreams crashing down. The plot follows The Muppets high off their rekindled fame. There’s an evil frog, who’s escaped prison, that looks just like Kermit, save for a mole on his cheek. Dominic Badguy (oh yes, the film goes there) becomes the new manager for The Muppets, and puts them on a European tour so they can rob museums that just happen to be right beside the venues.
Most Wanted is filled with cameos. Be it long forgotten Muppets, or A-list celebs that wanted in on the action. I won’t spoil any except one: Lady Gaga. Yes, even though she just needs to go away now, she keeps popping up in the films I’m watching.
The biggest draw for me this time around is Ricky Gervais. I love this crazy Brit and have seen him live a few times. He does a great job playing the Badguy (see how funny that is?!), and I really enjoy his song and dance number. However, Tina Fey steals the show as Nadya, a warden at a Siberian prison. Her song number quickly revives the film from its tedious opening.
The soundtrack for the 2011 Muppets film was really good, and I can say that Most Wanted offers a few solid numbers. Sadly, the first song is all about how the movie is a sequel, and the second song is as equally cliché, and has since left my brain forever. There are some “classics” revived here that older viewers should get a kick out of, though.
It’s rather blatant that Segal was the mastermind behind the last Muppets film, because without his loving hands on this project, it just feels lifeless. James Bobin returns as the director, and he does a good enough job with it. There are some weird moments with the Muppets that just look awkward, but, otherwise, his directing seems competent. Bobin also wrote this, along with Nicholas Stoller, and though both helped write the last one with Segal, the jokes feel forced this time around, and more often than not, they fall flat.
Muppets Most Wanted’s biggest flaw is the nearly two-hour runtime. It feels overly bloated, and for some reason, there is a Monsters University short from Pixar before the film that makes it feel even longer. In my theatre, kids were wandering the aisles, and some were even asking to leave. A lot of editing could have been done to make a tighter film. Sadly, if you’re the kind of person who likes to enjoy every moment, you’ll want to stay after the credits.
Muppets Most Wanted isn’t a bad film. It just feels like its heart is in the wrong place. With the opening song about always having to have a sequel, and the typical move to Europe (see Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, or any film series that hops to space), you know you’re just doing it wrong. Not even Gervais and Fey could keep me entertained for the full two hours that the film ran, and by the final act, I was begging for it to end. The Muppets deserve better than this, and I’d recommend waiting for a rental than spending the cash to see it in the theater.
Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.
Good review Chris. The 2011 movie was a whole lot better in terms of mixing actual humor, with deepening nostalgia, but this one still does a nice job at keeping the laughs and heart afloat. There’s just less at-stake this time around.