Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Sam Eagle, Walter, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, Matt Vogel
The Muppets are back, but Kermit The Frog (Brian Henson) is behind bars after being framed by an almost-identical criminal mastermind, Constantine (Matt Vogel) whilst the other Muppets go on a whirlwind tour of Europe. In short, Muppets Most Wanted is perhaps all that you would expect (but also, almost all that you would want) out of a Muppet movie. The gags are funny, the characters are charming and it’s easy to get behind them emotionally (although this lacks the poignancy of the 2011 film, The Muppets).
What stands out most are the celebrity cameos. These include, Jermaine Clement (whose Flight Of The Conchords partner, Brett McKenzie contributes some original songs as he did in the previous film), Ray Liotta, Tony Bennett Danny Trejo, Christoph Waltz, Salma Hayek, Saoirse Ronan, Frank Langella, Chloe Grace-Moretz, Lady Gaga, Don Cheadle and Tom Hiddleston, to name, well, several. The three main human roles are played entertainingly by Ty Burrell (as a Francophonic counterpart to Muppet regular Sam Eagle) Tina Fey (as a gulag guard) and Ricky Gervais (as Constantin’s put-upon accomplice).
Whilst all three are actors associated with comedy, Burrell and Fey seem to be natural fits whilst the casting of the often controversial Gervais may raise questions. He holds his own however and shows an affinity for performing with Muppets and even gets a chance to showcase his singing ability, even though it’s brief. One of the biggest problems that the Muppet movies tend to have is an over-reliance on the same basic plot strands and this film does stray a little too close at times towards The Great Muppet Caper (1981) but what the film lacks in originality or ingenuity, it has more than enough wit and charm, something that the loveable felt creations have always abounded with.
Over the years, whilst the Muppets have never turned in anything truly bad, there has been a load of mediocre product, even if the occasional film actually crosses into true brilliance (say what you want, but their 1992 adaptation, Muppet Christmas Carol, is widely regarded as perhaps the best Christmas Carol film adaptation of all time and for good reason). Here, the crew aren’t giving half-measures in delivering a good film, but more effort may be needed in future for the group to maintain their popularity and critical success.