Older fans of Jim Henson's beloved, felty friends could be forgiven for feeling a little bit of deja-vu developing here. 1979’s THE MUPPET MOVIE – the Muppets’ original origin story - was a relatively simple, modest character-driven piece as compared with the plot heavy adventures that followed (THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER; THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, etc.) So too, three years after THE MUPPETS re-introduced the characters to a whole new generation of kids with another (albeit revisionist) ‘who we are’ story, they now move onto a bigger adventure with more plot, gags and star cameos.
Picking up literally where the last movie left off, the Muppets are convinced by dodgy promoter Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) to capitalize on the success of their reunion show, and immediately take their revue on an international tour. Turns out this is a bad idea, as it’s all part of a nefarious plan by Constantin, the world’s most dangerous frog, who escapes from a Russian gulag, then manages to steal Kermit’s identity and have our amphibious hero sent back to Siberia in the master criminal’s place. And that’s just the beginning – there’s also subplots involving Tina Fey as the gulag warden and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell going ‘full Clouseau’ on the trail of a series of master burglaries that just seem to be happening right next to wherever the Muppets have performed.
If it all sounds like a lot for younglings to absorb, you’d be right. The six year-olds in the row in front of me were just hanging on, and any younger than that were getting lost. Fortunately there are easily enough musical numbers (Bret McKenzie returns as songwriter) peppered in there to keep any poor baffled littlies looking at the screen even they aren’t completely following it. For adults, the filmmakers have rectified the dearth of appearances by famous humans in the last movie, and MUPPETS MOST WANTED has a great procession of ‘ooh, look who it is!’ moments. It’s also important to mention that within all that plot, there’s a boatload of wonderfully cheesy gags.
It’s also got grand scope, and charm to match. It may occasionally have trouble
keeping all of its plates spinning, but it’s never dull, and even if this isn’t
quite it, MUPPETS MOST WANTED certainly feels like they’re getting ever closer
to discovering the formula for the perfect Muppet movie.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED is released March 28 in the US, March 28 in the UK, and April 10 in Australia and New Zealand.