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|Muppets Most Wanted|
dir James Bobin
scr James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller
prd David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman
with Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Matt Vogel, Peter Linz, Dave Goelz, David Rudman, Bill Barretta, Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta
release US 21.Mar.14, UK 28.Mar.14
14/UK Disney 1h52
Let's put on a show: Fey and Kermit
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Where the 2011 reboot cleverly tapped into the Muppets' knowingly anarchic sense of humour, this sequel merely emphasises the silliness. There are several hilarious sequences, but major chunks of the script simply aren't funny, mainly because the filmmakers are trying to be so zany that they forget to let the characters work their magic.
When the first movie ends, the Muppets need a sequel. The best idea comes from interloper Dominic (Gervais), who proposes a world tour. What they don't know is that Dominic is in league with most-wanted frog Constantine (Vogel), who has just escaped from a gulag. When the Muppets stop for their first gig in Berlin, Constantine swaps places with Kermit (Whitmire), who is sent to Siberia, watched over by tenacious guard Nadya (Fey). Meanwhile, Interpol Agent Jean-Pierre (Burrell) and the CIA's Sam Eagle (Jacobson) track the Muppets on to Madrid, Dublin and London.
We don't really expect a wacky Muppets plot to make much sense, but only two of the script's three strands work: Kermit wins Nadya over and stages a cabaret with the inmates (including the singing-dancing Trejo and Liotta), and the rivalry between Jean-Pierre and Sam allows for all kinds of amusing Euro-gags. But Dominic's masterplot is seriously dull, as is the way Constantine bamboozles the Muppets and their fans into thinking he's Kermit.
The Muppets are as always charming, even if this time the humour doesn't feel random enough. This oddly leaves everyone feeling like a supporting player while undercutting any development of the relationships between them. Instead, the script relies on creaky gags to keep the movie afloat. This allows guest stars like Fey and Burrell to walk off with the film, but Gervais is deeply unfunny, even in his big song and dance number.
In other words, the film is rather forgettable. There are a few sublime moments along the way, but only about one in five jokes hits the target. At least we have fun with the constant starry cameos*, including goofy spotlight scenes for Christoph Waltz and Salma Hayek. And the film manages to pull everything together with a final sequence that can't help but make us smile. We still love the Muppets, but this film proves that they need a very, very good script to make them shine.
* Cameos include: Jemaine Clement, Sean Combs, Mackenzie Crook, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Groban, Tom Hiddleston, Frank Langella, James McAvoy, Toby Jones, Chloe Grace Moretz, Usher Raymond, Miranda Richardson, Saoirse Ronan, Til Schweiger, Russell Tovey, Stanley Tucci
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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