Muppets Most Wanted might be the next Muppets movie since the last
Muppets Most Wanted is not quite as much fun as a room full of ferrets playing Twister, but it is close. If you have never experienced ferrets playing Twister, then Muppets Most Wanted will be a standard unit of measurement for cinematic fun. The film itself harkens back to the days of self-deprecating Muppet glory, with relentlessly hilarious jokes, both subtle and brazen. Just as with the previous Muppets movie it works best if the audience has a passing familiarity with the franchise history, although that will not be a deal breaker by any means, it will simply enhance the experience. The Muppet movies are a genre of comedy unto themselves, having assimilated styles from musicals, parody and satire, meta alternate universe animation, slapstick and goofball comedies, and Punch and Judy puppet shows. Then they add in classic comedic elements, textbook punch lines with unconventional setup, glue it all together with a good pun and soon you forget what your point was. But it’s ok, you don’t need to know what your point was, you just need to wait thirty seconds for the next gag, or cameo (of which there are dozens, none of which I will reveal, they are too much fun as a surprise). They really don’t waste much screen time, and by extension, they don’t waste your time.
Muppets Most Wanted picks up immediately after the previous Muppets movies ends. Beginning with an uproariously hilarious musical number “We’re Doing a Sequel” where we find the original film was titled The Muppets… Again! This is also where they lay down the world tour plot device, and the first grouping of cameos. After this musical number we visit the Siberian Gulag where Constantine the Frog, the number one thief and most dangerous frog in the world, is escaping. The Muppets are then sold the idea of a world tour by international tour manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who is also Constantine’s sidekick, and the number 2 thief in the world. The Muppets, after a quick train ride from Los Angeles to Berlin, are forced to cope with the fact that their act is beyond rusty, and they have forgotten how to work together. Kermit, feeling frustrated takes Dominic’s advice and goes for a long stroll in the fog by an abandoned canal where he is attacked by Constantine, and subsequently arrested in a case of mistaken identity. Now Dominic and Constantine are free to use The Muppets and their world tour to pull off a string of international heists, while Kermit must adjust to life in The Gulag under the iron heel of Nadya (Tina Fey). Hilarity ensues as Constantine and Dominic break into museums and banks, and Interpol inspector Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) with CIA agent Sam the Eagle race to catch them. Meanwhile Kermit is now directing the Gulag talent show after Nadya thwarted all his escape attempts. The only hope they have is Walter, Fozzie, and Animal.
The fact that I couldn’t hear the dialogue though the din of laughter, on multiple occasions, leads me to believe one of two things; there was a Nitrous Oxide leak in the theater, or the film in question was just that hilarious. Honestly, I will have to visit the theatre a few times to observe the audience reaction before I make a final call. I am also withholding judgment on where this film ranks in the pantheon of all Muppet movies. The quality of the film work, writing, music, and comedy is superb, but it lacks the edge of the originals, the same shortcoming the 2011 Muppets film had. Both are very polished, very safe comedy. Although I will credit Most Wanted for taking more risks than its predecessor takes, but it is nowhere near as edgy as it could, or should be. Because of this tempering, we are left with a film that is miles from offensive, unless one can take offense at silly comedic character stereotypes. In spite of this neutering, the film works, and my enjoyment was in no way diminished.
Muppets Most Wanted is the most fun you can have in a theater without within the confines of modern decency and the law. 10 out of 10.