Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Muppets: Most Wanted?

Review by Al Kessel

It's time to start the music....it's time to light the lights....yeah, yeah. I'm sure you all know the song! I remember watching the Muppet Show when I was...younger. In fact, I remember watching Kermit and a few others on Sesame Street, back in the days before YouTube, iPads, iPhones and even...the Disney Channel! I used to love the Muppets. I really did. So, when Disney made a NEW Muppet Movie in 2011, I was kind of geeked out about it. And you know what? It wasn't too bad. Aside from all the songs, I enjoyed the plot and everything. Then...I heard they were making ANOTHER new Muppet movie, called Muppets Most Wanted. I was, intrigued by the title and the plot. Then...I watched it. And things kind of went sour for me.
Ricky Gervais and Kermit

Ok, before I go much farther, let me say that I really do like the Muppets. And Muppets Most Wanted is an OK film, just not...great. At least in my opinion. To me, it seemed they kind of just phoned it in, relying on a plethora of cameos (by some pretty notable stars), too many musical numbers and not so subtle product endorsements. Seriously, a half concealed Target bullseye, and even Subway (yes, Fozzie Bear was eating a Subway sandwich...). And, this movie seemed awfully familiar - another Muppets sequel called...The Great Muppet Caper. 

All that aside, the story is kind of fun. Muppets Most Wanted starts right after the closing song from the 2011 movie. And I mean RIGHT after...we hear the last note from the song! After all the extras leave, our heroes are trying to decide what to do next. A sequel perhaps??? And from there, one of the villains of the movie, Dominic Badguy (pronounced, Bad-GEI - it's French), talks the Muppets in to launching a world tour. Little to they know though, Dominic is in league with the super-villian and criminal master mind, Constantine, who just busted out of a Russian Gulag. See, Constantine bears an uncanny resemblance to...(duhn, duhn dah!!!) KERMIT THE FROG! So, as the beloved Muppets arrive in Berlin, Germany (of all places), Constantine slaps a mole on Kermit to make him look like the evil frog, then takes his place with the group. And, a plot unfolds...(no spoilers, sorry).
Tina Fey and Kermit

Muppets Most Wanted is chock full of musical numbers that I'm sure are kind of fun for a lot of fans. I just felt there were far too many and in the oddest places. No fun, heartwarming numbers like Kermit's The Rainbow Connection, from the original Muppet Movie from 1979, but, a few toe tapping numbers. 

It was wise to cast Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras, Night At The Museum) as Dominic Badguy. Gervais plays the role perfectly and adds that great deadpan comedy essential to keep this movie from sinking entirely. And, with Tina Fey as the Russian Gulag commander obsessed with Kermit, Muppets Most Wanted isn't completely lost. 

Ty Burrell (Modern Family) plays opposite Sam Eagle (who's a CIA agent) as the bumbling, inept Inspector Clouseau inspired French Interpol agent tasked with finding the criminal mastermind Constantine and the ever elusive Lemur (a 'cat burglar' stealing high value items throughout Europe). Although I do like Burrell, you kind of want to poke his over the top character in the eye a bit! 
Inspector Clouseau...er...I mean, Jean Pierre Napoleon

There are a lot of cameos in Muppets Most Wanted, as is typical in a Muppets movie. Only problem is, you have to look really fast to catch most of them. Like, X-Men's James McAvoy as the UPS delivery man, or Miranda Richardson as Berlin woman in window! Of course, some aren't so covert, like Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo as the musically inclined Gulag prisoners. Oh, and see if you can recognize the voice Tina Fey has locked away in 'the box'. 

Most of the humor is ok for younger viewers, but, there are a few bits that are targeted at the more...grownup fans. For example, there's a silly scene between Dominic and Constantine in a restroom...trust me, you'll have to watch it to appreciate it!

Muppets Most Wanted has some fun bonus features for your enjoyment. In fact, I quite enjoyed the blooper reel. Probably the most fun I had watching this movie! Seriously though, if you've never heard Ricky Gervais laugh, watch the bloopers! I guarantee you'll laugh out loud...OUT LOUD!! 
Kermit and Constantine, or...Constantine and Kermit??

Bonus Features include:

  • The Statler and Waldorf Cut (perhaps the best cut)
  • The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets History
  • Rizzo's Biggest Fan
  • "I'll Get You What You Want" Music Video Performed by Bret McKenzie
Muppets Most Wanted is now available. 

All in all, Muppets Most Wanted was a bit disappointing to me (and Joyce), but maybe because I'm stacking it up against the original Muppets. Muppets Most Wanted isn't a HORRIBLE movie, it's certainly worth having. The younglings will most likely love it. But on a scale of 1-10, I'd have to give it a 4...because after all, I DO love the Muppets. Even in a not so great movie! - Al

(Some awesome Gervais bloopers)

(Waldorf and Statler's Cut)

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