I’m a big fan of the Muppets. I enjoyed their last eponymous film and was excited when it was announced they were doing another film. My companion of choice was Michael, but he didn’t want to see the film so I went with my Grandad instead, who I have to say was as excited about the film as I was. When we got to the cinema and sat down, we were the only ones in the screen. Maybe everyone was at work/school we thought, but when a few more people started coming in, my Grandad said “Oh, that’s spoilt it now.” which made me laugh. I was quite surprised actually that of the few people in the cinema, about half of them were pensioners. Anyway, onto the film.
It opened with a short cartoon with the characters from the recent film Monsters University. I always like when there’s shorts on before the feature film, and this was a great little piece. It seemed like it was a deleted scene from the film, as it didn’t really make sense as a standalone thing, but it was very funny. The basis of it was that they were trying to steal everything from a neighbouring party by using the dimension jumping doors. Anyway, you’d have to see it, so here’s a bit of it:
Now, onto the film we actually went to see. It started where the last film left off, literally in the same scene, using body doubles for some characters. This was a nice little touch and I don’t think I’ve seen it been done before, but it didn’t really work as I had to explain to my Grandad what was going on. They then went on to announce that they were going to do a sequel and then did a song about doing a sequel. This is typical Muppet style, breaking the fourth wall and all, but as Bunsen pointed out, it’s the 7th ‘sequel’ since their original movie, The Muppet Movie. The thing is, this theme of it being a sequel was revisited throughout the film, with a number of references to the previous film. There was one bit where Rizzo the Rat points out that the film all but left out some familiar characters, including himself and Robin the Frog, who made a cameo in this film to point out that he didn’t appear in the last film. Although this is a neat little joke, it does highlight the point that some good characters were left out of the last film and will most likely be left out of this film too.
Talking of cameos, this film was packed with them. The previous film had quite a few, including Whoopie Goldberg and Mickey Rooney to name only two, but Muppets Most Wanted had loads. Some of them were for cheap jokes, like where Link Hogthrob is at a wedding looking for an usher and Usher appears, or where an unseen voice keeps singing from inside a box during songs and it turns out to be Josh Groban. But others were just thrown in for no apparent reason, like Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, who appear during the ‘sequel song’ at the start to explain that there will be brief cameos from celebrities. Again, all these jokes about jokes were starting to get a bit tedious. They also had some of the characters from the previous film make cameos, like Hobo Joe. He didn’t need to be there. He wasn’t even a good character in the other film! There were other cameos, like Chloë Grace Moretz (always nice to see her) and Russell Tovey (always spotting Doctor Who actors in things) that I barely noticed.
Then there were the guest leads. Ricky Gervais was as good as Ricky Gervais can be, which it turns out is actually quite good. He plays the ‘number two’ to the main criminal and also pretends to be the Muppets’ new manager, the latter being a not very convincing cover. There was also Ty Burrell as the incredibly irritating Interpol officer Jean Pierre Napoleon and Tina Fey as a Russian Gulag prison guard called Nadya, who was again incredibly annoying. I mean I get that they’re in a kids film – and a Muppet kids film at that – so they have to play it up a bit and be a bit of a pantomime character, but their characters weren’t even funny.
The film also introduced a new Muppet, Constantine, who (as he repeatedly reminded us) is the most dangerous frog in the world. Dangerous he may be, but he’s a terrible actor. His attempts at trying to imitate Kermit were quite funny, but his general performance was again quite annoying. The plot of the film is basically Constantine switches places with Kermit and takes the Muppets on a world tour with some odd locations so he can secretly steal things from the museums next door and eventually steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London. The obvious joke was that he sounded/acted nothing like Kermit but people didn’t notice because he’d covered up his mole, and this was carried out to good effect. Although it’s one of those that the whole way through you just thought ‘Surely somebody would notice it’ and nobody does.
As I mentioned earlier, there were lots of references to the earlier film, but this time there were also countless references to former Muppet media, this time actually showing clips of the original Muppet Show. Although it was a nice bit of nostalgia, it started to seem like they were relying too much on their previous success to keep them going, which is pretty much what the whole of the previous film was about. The Muppets was their comeback movie after not having done a feature film since 1999’s Muppets From Space, and the film was about them trying to become popular again. That kind of worked because there were a whole generation of kids who probably didn’t even know who the Muppets were, so they needed reintroducing, but now they’re back and everyone knows/remembers them, they don’t need to keep harking on about previous adventures. In fact, the references even go so far as the closing number being the opening number from 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan. The song was Together Again, only this time they sung “Together again again, gee it’s good to be together again again…” which is just pitiful. I mean come on, are you telling me that the Muppets have that little new material that they have to steal their own song as a closing number?!
Talking of numbers, there were far too many of them in this film. There were a few good ones, like when Jean Pierre Napoleon and Sam the Eagle are interrogating the Muppets and they get through it by doing a song and a montage of each questioning, but most of the songs weren’t great and some seemed unnecessary. There was even a song where Miss Piggy duetted with Celine Dion (another cameo!), although Dion only really did a few ‘aaah-aaah aaahhh’ backing vocals. Even with that song, Celine Dion was singing ‘professionally’ and all it really did was point out that Miss Piggy can’t sing and Celine Dion can. There were actually songs in the film that I wish had been more prominent, like Scooter’s cover of Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger which we sadly only got to see a few seconds of. It could’ve been a great bit, like Camilla and the chickens’ version of CeeLo Green’s Forget You in the last film, but no! They decided to deprive me of it in favour of some out-of-tune guys singing in terrible Russian accents. Well thanks for that!
Whilst it sounds like I’m moaning a lot about this film, there were some good bits. Fozzie, Walter and Animal got their own scene where they rescue Kermit, which was nice because it provided a bit of relief from all the singing and some good old fashioned Muppet comedy. Like I mentioned, it was nice to see Robin the Frog and characters like Rowlf and Bunsen Honeydew had a bit more to do in this film, although some of my favourites like Swedish Chef and Beaker only made fleeting appearances, with Beaker just being used to be blown up. I’d really like to see a Muppet film that focusses on the supporting Muppets, like having Honeydew and Beaker have their own little adventure.
All in all the film was okay. It was watchable and it’s always nice to have some new Muppets stuff to watch, although I doubt I’ll watch this film again. My Grandad enjoyed it too, probably more than I did to be honest. He said “It was brilliant” but later went on to say “It was alright. It was a bit long winded but it was a nice change from other films.” So I’m betting after reading this, Michael will be glad he never saw the film and use it as a reason not to see any future Muppet films with me. A shame.
Our rating: (3 / 5)