“Muppets Most Wanted” premiered to nationwide audiences on Friday, March 21, 2014. This film is the sequel to the successful 2011 picture, “The Muppets”, and director, James Bobin returns to direct the great abundance of Muppets and movie stars that appear in this much-anticipated sequel. The return of the Muppets to the big screen in 2011 is something that Muppet fans everywhere welcomed, as there had not been a Muppet movie released in theatres since “Muppets from Space” in 1999. Now, with less than a three year gap in between the most recent release, “Muppets Most Wanted” offers fans plenty to cheer about.
Firstly, the music is simply fantastic. Toe-tapping tunes abound from the opening number, “We’re Doing a Sequel” to Tina Fey’s number “The Big House”. And the infamous criminal frog, Constantine, has two songs in the film, one of which is a duet with Ricky Gervais. “I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)” is one of Constantine’s song that is unexpected and delightfully hilarious. Make sure to stay for the end credits, as audiences will be able to dance one more time to this particular tune. To hear a sample of the soundtrack, click here. Besides the original songs written by funny man, Bret McKenzie who won the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Man or Muppet” from 2011’s “The Muppets”, the score was composed by another well-known individual. Christophe Beck composed the music for this film as well as the 2011 feature, but is perhaps most well-known recently for his musical composition on 2013’s worldwide billion-dollar blockbuster “Frozen”.
It appears the recipe for a successful sequel is having many of the people who made the first movie a success back for the second film such as director, James Bobin, and musicians, McKenzie and Beck. But many of the cameos in this film are original, while some have appeared in Muppet movies before. There are over 25 cameos in this film from seasoned film stars to contemporary celebrities and singers. To name a few, appearances include Tony Bennett, Tom Hiddleston, Ray Liotta, Frank Langella, and Usher. Liotta also appeared in “Muppets from Space”. No doubt, there are plenty of stars that pop up to keep audience members on their toes and since the cameos are from all realms of entertainment, there is bound to be at least one that each generation watching the film will recognize.
While the songs and stars give shape to the film, the story is the true backbone. “Muppets Most Wanted” is a classic heist film, with the crime carried out by Constantine and Dominic Badguy, played by Ricky Gervais. It is quite clever the way in which these two achieve their burglaries, and it involves booking the Muppets on a worldwide tour of their famous variety show. Constantine replaces Kermit by assuming his identity, while Kermit gets sent to a gulag in Siberia. While Constantine has tricked most of the Muppet gang into believing he is Kermit, Jean Pierre Napoleon, portrayed by Ty Burrell, with the French Interpol works with the American inspector, Sam the Eagle to solve the series of burglaries that have been occurring. The relationship that develops between Jean and Sam is one of the funniest and heartwarming in the movie, considering Sam’s deeply-rooted affinity for all things American. Within this story, there is much more screen time given to Muppet stars that typically have not received longer periods of character development and portrayal as a character that serves to advance the story. For instance, it would seem that both Animal and Sam the Eagle have more prominent parts than Walter and Miss Piggy. This creates an opportunity for Muppet fans to explore the personalities and capabilities of what could be considered more minor Muppet stars.
As with any film, there are multiple parts that make the whole a success. With “Muppets Most Wanted”, the music, cameos, and storyline are ingredients for sure achievement. Audiences can expect the usual Muppet madness and hilarity they have come to love over the years. And while this film is considered the sequel to “The Muppets”, as Bunsen Honeydew points out in the opening number, it is truly the seventh sequel to the original “The Muppet Movie” from 1979, and it will certainly be a fabulous seventh sequel to add to any Muppet fan’s collection!
Bonus: “Party Central” is the short that plays before the film which occurs in the “Monsters University” universe. It is one more reason to bring the family to enjoy an afternoon of laughter.