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Movie review: 'Muppets Most Wanted'

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Muppets Most Wanted

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“And everybody knows/the sequel’s never quite as good” goes the lyrics of the opening number in “Muppets Most Wanted”. The song, titled “We’re Doing a Sequel”, is a tongue-in-cheek number that attempts to justify making the movie that is to follow, which is, of course, a sequel to 2011’s “The Muppets”. Unfortunately, those lyrics are true for this film, which has some pretty funny scenes that are linked together by a weak story that is essentially a redo of one of the Muppet’s first films, “The Great Muppet Caper”.

Directed by James Bobin, “Muppets Most Wanted” starts directly where the previous film left off. The newly reunited Muppets aren’t sure what to do next, so when the seemingly prestigious manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), suggests they go on a world tour, they bite, despite their leader Kermit the Frog’s doubts. But Dominic really is a bad guy, the number two man to Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog—who just happens to look exactly like Kermit. Constantine breaks out of his Siberian prison and takes Kermit’s place in the group. Kermit gets sent to the prison, which is led by the all-seeing Nadia (Tina Fey). Meanwhile, Dominic books shows for the group across Europe, all of the venues being right next to museums carrying priceless artifacts—which of course Dominic and Constantine will steal as the Muppets perform.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Muppets are always funny, and they’re still at their hilarious best in this movie. Sam the Eagle makes a particularly great team with Ty Burrell, the Interpol agent tracking the heists across Europe. Kermit and Piggy are sweet together, although the rest of the team, even the likes of Fozzie and Gonzo, don’t get as much screen time as they should. There are some humorous one-liners, fun songs—although not as fun as the ones in the last movie, and none of the actors here can really sing—and great sight gags. Then there are the cameos, which are without a doubt one of the most fun aspects of any Muppets movie. This film doesn’t fail in that respect, bringing on surprise celebrities at every turn. Really, in what other movie are you going to see a reference to Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” and Usher playing an usher?

However, these amusing little bits are stringed together by a story that’s relatively dull, and lacks the heart the last film had. The whole “evil twin” scenario is cliché, and it’s a wonder that none of Kermit’s close friends, even Miss Piggy, noticed that he suddenly acquired a Russian accent. The whole message of the film is that you should appreciate your friends the way they are—because we haven’t heard that before.

I guess we should just be grateful that the Muppets are still as wholesome and funny and they always were, and haven’t been replaced by CGI caricatures. Muppet fans will have fun with this film and likely leave satisfied, but there’s a noticeable difference between this film and the previous ones that makes it less memorable.

Runtime: 112 minutes. Rated PG for some mild action.

Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:

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