Susan Granger's review of 'Muppets Most Wanted'
Published 3:55 pm, Friday, March 21, 2014
The prophetic opening musical number -- "We're Doing a Sequel ... It's what we do in Hollywood, though it's never quite as good" -- heralds Jim Henson's fuzzy fellows' new, globe-trotting crime caper.
Beginning where their previous film ended, the Muppets are on Hollywood Boulevard celebrating their reunion. Meanwhile, across the globe, nefarious forces are at work. An evil Kermit look-alike named Constantine (voiced by Matt Vogel) has escaped from Gulag 38B and concocted a diabolical scheme with Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), a talent manager whose name is pronounced "Bad-jee." Dominic convinces the Muppets to go on an international tour, telling them, "I want you to conquer the world."
Not coincidentally, every grand European theater they're booked into just happens to be near a bank or museum that can be robbed during their performance. Their first gig is in Germany, where they're a bit disconcerted by billboards heralding "Die Muppets." But when they arrive in Berlin, Kermit (voiced by Steve Whitmire) is kidnapped and shipped to Siberia, where his Gulag is commanded by Nadya (Tina Fey), a musical comedy-obsessed prison guard. Disguised as Kermit, Constantine ardently woos Miss Piggy, fostering her fantasy of a lavish European wedding at the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are kept. On their trail are bumbling Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) and Sam the Eagle, while courageous Kermit concocts a Von Trapp-like escape during a talent show, arriving at the nuptial altar just in time to allow Miss Piggy to discern which frog is the real croaker.
Co-scripted by Nicholas Stollar and director James Bobin with songwriter Bret McKenzie, it's reminiscent of "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981), as the felt-covered friends once again frolic with a host of celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Sean Combs, Zach Galifianakis, Salma Hayek, Saoirse Ronan and Frank Langella. Most memorably, Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo and Jermaine Clement sing and Christoph Waltz waltzes.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Muppets Most Wanted" is a swift-paced, smartly spoofy 7. Family-friendly, it's mistaken identity fun.