REVIEW: ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ marks seventh sequel

REVIEW: ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ marks seventh sequel

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Crime | Run Time: 112 min | Rated: PG
Director: James Bobin | Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey

By: George Wolf

There are few casts of characters who have brought more sheer delight to audiences – regardless of age – than the Muppets. Sure, they’ve had their low points (good God, the Muppet Babies!), but on the whole, their variety show mayhem has offered nothing but fun.

The fuzzy ensemble returns this week for their 8th feature film, Muppets Most Wanted.

The new adventure picks up immediately after the finale of 2011’s The Muppets, when the group is approached by prospective road manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who wants them to launch a world tour.

Meanwhile, the diabolical Constantine, a dead-ringer for our beloved Kermie and widely known the world’s most dangerous frog, breaks out of a Russian gulag. Coincidence?

About 3/4 of the team that brought Kermit and Co. back after more than a decade of absence for The Muppets returns for the sequel. Producer/co-writer/star Jason Segel is noticeably absent, though, having made the upcoming Sex Tape instead (although that could have given the Muppet franchise an interesting wrinkle).

But director James Bobin, co-writer Nicholas Stoller, and, perhaps importantly, songwriter Bret McKenzie return.

McKenzie (one half of the comedy duo Flight of the Conchords) delivers clever enough tunes such as “We’re Doing a Sequel”, “I’m Number One”, and “Interrogation Song,” but none come close to the charm of “Man or Muppet,” his Oscar-winner from the last film.

And though most of the flesh and blood crew that made The Muppets so warm, fun, irreverent and yet sweet return, the film is clearly missing something. Jason Segel, we’re looking at you.

The important characters are all accounted for: Kermit, Miss Piggy, Dr. Teeth, Bunsen Honeydew and Beeker, Fozzie, Gonzo, Sam Eagle, etc, etc.

And, the requisite cameos pile up: Diddy, Chloe Moretz, Usher, Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, Tom Hiddleston, Zach Galafianakis, Saoirse Ronan, Celine Dion, Salma Hayak, Tony Bennett, Josh Groban – it’s a long list.

Though the film does many things right – starting with putting the spotlight back on the Muppets themselves – it can’t shake the feeling that this is more an assignment than a labor of love. The mistaken identity plot begins to drag, even with co-starring roles for Tina Fey as the Gulag warden and Ty Burrell as a bumbling inspector.

It’s fun enough, nostalgic enough, self-reverential enough, but never magical.

Verdict 3 Stars

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