Back in 2004, Disney bought the Muppets from Jim Henson leaving many fans with high expectations for the future. Previously in the 80′s, Disney was close to purchasing the Muppets, but after Jim Henson passed away in 1990, the future of the Muppets was put in jeopardy. Luckily, Disney didn’t give up completely. MuppetVision 3D was a hit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Disney MGM Studios at the time), “The Muppets at Walt Disney World” Wonderful World of Disney television special was a success and The Muppet Christmas Carol would be hitting theaters soon becoming one of the most cherished versions of the Charles Dickens’ story.
After The Muppets Christmas Carol came Muppets Treasure Island, Muppets From Space and a few made-for-television specials, but most regarded the Muppets as a dead franchise. The characters were still regarded as classics, but no new films were being developed. All of that changed when Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) and Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) started working on a script for a new Muppets film. The duo brought in songwriter Brett McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords) and in 2011, The Muppets was released to critical and financial success. Disney chose to follow up with a sequel bringing us to Muppets Most Wanted.
Muppets Most Wanted starts right where The Muppets ends. After realizing the Muppets are doing a sequel (during a musical number in which they fully admit that the sequel is never as good as the original), Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) steps into their lives suggesting a worldwide tour. Meanwhile, the world’s most dangerous frog, Constantine, has broken out of a Russian Gulag run by Nadya (Tina Fey) and has an evil plan to switch places with Kermit allowing him to pull off a heist for the Crown Jewels. The Muppets embark on their tour stopping in Berlin, Madrid and eventually London unaware that a criminal mastermind has replaced the beloved Kermit the Frog.
Craig’s Review 3.5
Being a Muppets fan my entire life, I had the highest expectations for 2011’s The Muppets and 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted. I can remember walking out of the theater for The Muppets and realizing that it was something very special. The Muppets had a brilliant script written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller who had previously worked together during Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The director, James Bobin, directed songwriter Brett McKenzie in the Flight of the Conchords television series. All of the pieces of the puzzle came together perfectly and to make it even better, Jason Segel and Amy Adams were the human stars and everything they seem to do is an instant success.
That being said, Muppets Most Wanted had a lot to live up to and unfortunately it fell flat. I am not insisting that it is a bad film at all, but it had no chance of being as good as The Muppets. Muppets Most Wanted trades a lighthearted comedy for a more mischievous caper film, in a similar fashion to The Great Muppet Caper following The Muppet Movie. Instead of Jason Segel and Amy Adams we have Ricky Gervais, who is good in his role, but he is still the villain. There are plenty of gags (some of my favorites coming from Ty Burrell’s Jean Pierre Napoleon, who strictly follows the duties of his job, and Sam Eagle), but the ones that happen between Ricky Gervais’ Dominic Badguy and Constantine just don’t have any punch. In fact, their song “I’m Number One” is perhaps the lowest point of the film.
In general, the music didn’t seem great in the context of the film, but after listening the soundtrack at home I changed my mind about the songs. “I’m Number One” still falls flat, but “Interrogation Song” and “I’ll Get You What You Want” are among my favorites. “We’re Doing A Sequel” is a great start to the film, but is a sad reminder that the name of the film was originally supposed to be The Muppets… Again! “Something So Right” sung by Miss Piggy will end up being the song that Disney pushes during award seasons to hopefully win Brett McKenzie’s second Academy Award, the first coming from “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets.
The cameos are everything that one would expect from a Muppets film, my favorite being the shocking revelation of whom Danny Trejo plays in the film. Overall, I can’t complain about much. It felt like it started off strong for the first fifteen minutes with great bits and pieces of humor (for instance, how do you think the Muppets’ train will be able to leave the station if it’s backwards) and then had a very strong last half hour leaving with it a rather weak middle. As long as expectations are managed going into the theater, it will end up being a great family film and another classic Muppet movie. And for the record, my list goes: The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Muppet Movie, The Muppets, The Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Most Wanted, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Muppet Treasure Island, and finally Muppets From Space.
Shaun’s Review 3.5
The thing about Muppets Most Wanted is that it’s impossible to go into the movie without extremely high expectations. After 2011′s The Muppets, it seemed like everyone’s love of The Muppets was rekindled and it just set the bar for the franchise so high. Between the perfect script, the memorable music, and the perfect blend of hilarity and emotion, The Muppets was definitely a tough act for Muppets Most Wanted to follow.
After seeing Muppets Most Wanted, I have to be honest that I left the theater feeling a bit disappointed. The movie as a whole was good, I just couldn’t help but think that something was missing from it. There were plenty of great laugh out loud moments, some memorable songs, and there was absolutely no shortage of great celebrity cameos, but I think what was missing was the emotional connection that we all had with The Muppets. It was just lacking the heart and nostalgia that its predecessor had at the heart of its plot. There are however a handful of hilarious moments in the movie – including one of my favorite parts where the world tour poster features their name translated into German: “Die Muppets.”
While the music in Muppets Most Wanted is good, it was just not on the par with the music from The Muppets. Bret McKenzie wrote the songs from both films, but only a few of the musical numbers seem to match up to the quality. There are a few memorable song that are great – “I’ll Give You What You Want” and “Something So Right” are by far my two favorites from the movie. The latter even has a wonderful cameo by Celine Dion as Miss Piggy’s duet partner and completely makes the song for me. “The Big House” is also a great number sung by Tina Fey in the Gulag – even if Fey’s Russian singing voice gives me the hives.
I would definitely recommend seeing Muppets Most Wanted – just with managed expectations. If you go into it expecting to see a funny movie with cute songs and jokes, then you will most certainly be pleased. I think I was just holding it up to that standard that The Muppets set and for me it wasn’t met. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie again after listening to the soundtrack on repeat for a few days. I’m sure it will be a different experience and I’ll catch things that I missed the first time around.
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