The Muppets go on a European tour and get caught up in international criminal activity.
2011’s revival of The Muppets was a thing of great joy with great songs, silly humour, self-awareness and a warmth and charm which made the public rightly love these strange characters all over again.
Success breeds sequels and so Muppets Most Wanted was born. And it’s all too ironic that a film which starts with a song about how sequels are never as good turns out to be inferior to the recent reboot.
It’s not that there isn’t plenty going on – from bank heists to gulag show downs with baddies and cops along the way. But there’s a vital element missing which was so important in the last film – warmth.
This Muppet adventure is surprisingly dark and while the movie is all about the gags and the cameos it doesn’t really remember to have much of a message or even a central character that you give a crap about. Both of these roles were filled admirably by Jason Segel the last time out and he leaves a real void here.
In his place, we get the likes of Ricky Gervais – who actually manages to do more than just be annoying here. And the central live action cast is excellent, including Ty Burrell and Tina Fey’s oddly sexy gulag guard Nadja.
But that’s basically it for the humans, leaving the audience awash in a sea of fairly nondescript puppets. I’m sure people have their favourites over the years but none get their chance to shine here, with Kermit especially sidelined in favour of his evil lookalike Constantine. His accent gags are ok but who exactly is the hero of the piece?
Another misstep can be found in the songs. There’s no immediate standout here like the Oscar winning Man or Muppet but few tracks are memorable at all – Gervais and Constantine make the most of their duet ‘I’m Number One’ and there’s some fun to be had at Celine Dion’s expense during ‘Something So Right.’
One element that is improved from the first film is the cameo roster, which was pretty disappointing first time around. In Muppets Most Wanted you’ll see faces like those on Tom Hiddleston, Ray Liotta, James McAvoy, Chloe Moretz, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz and Saoirse Ronan. Some only appear for a split second but its fun trying to spot them, though none really get that involved in any jokes.
Muppets Most Wanted still has laughs and silliness to spare but it all feels a bit rudimentary, a way of keeping the characters in public consciousness while securing a few more toy sales.