DIR: James Bobin • WRI: James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller • PRO: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman • DOP: Don Burgess • ED: James Thomas • MUS: Christophe Beck • DES: Eve Stewart • CAST: Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tom Hiddleston
In 2011 The Muppet clan was revived and celebrated as a satirical tribute to one of television’s greatest entertainment shows. Apart from the enjoyable antics of Kermit and co. James Bobin had some great additions on board with Jason Segal and Amy Adams to name a few. The success of The Muppets sees James Bobin return with an even more outlandish adventure, one that puts Kermit behind Russian bars, while an “evil frog” escapee is sanctioned at the helm of The Muppet show.
Beginning in typical Muppet fashion, our sequel opens with a song following a celebration of The Muppet reunion we saw in its predecessor. However the euphoria ends there, with the Muppets turning to Kermit for optimism. Consumed in opportunities, Dominick Badguy (Rick Gervais), despite his ironic name, convinces Kermit to go on tour. Unaware of Dominick’s intentions, Kermit puts the future of Muppet shows into the hands of the audacious Dominick. In the midst of new adventures, Kermit is consistently hounded by Miss Piggy, who is persistent on marrying the charming frog, despite the fact Kermit is yet to propose to the female pig. As the troupe warm to Dominick’s presence, his indulgence is that of a distraction for Constantine the “Evil Frog” (a Russian version of Kermit with a mole) to frame Kermit, leading to exodus in a Serbian jail rubbernecked by Nadya (Tina Fey). Humorously titled “Number 2”, Dominick is forced to comply with Constantine’s commands and together plan a European jewel heist, using The Muppet Show as a way in.
Ricky Gervais certainly surprised me. I am by no means a big fan of his; however, he adds a touch of realism to his role with his witty humour and sleazy antics. He has an obvious aspiration toward the Muppet franchise that is recognised throughout. The irony of playing puppet to a Muppet of Constantine’s presence makes for great comedy and toe-tapping festivity; watching Gervais squabble under Constantine’s melody of “I am Number One” will create a giggle or two whether you like the man or not.
The emergence of Sam (the American eagle) and Jean Pierre (Ty Burrell) as two French Interpol detectives add a touch of parody and reference in regard to the buddy-cop genre. Both characters are uncanny to say the least; however, they are ambitious enough to help bring Constantine to justice. There is not a lifeless bone in this ambitious return as the latest Muppet adventure sees them bump into familiar faces of past, and present.
Just like its predecessor, Muppets Most Wanted is highly dependent on its parody of familiar cameos; one such scene introduces the recently acclaimed Christopher Waltz to their show, performing nothing other than, yes, you guessed it, the Waltz. It is a tradition to include such celebrities that really makes The Muppets a joy to watch, prolonging its satirical and more important, self-awareness that what you are watching is completely self-indulgent; it’s a concept that does not look like holding back. The fact that one of Kermit’s cellmates is Danny Trejo, who is called Danny Trejo in the movie, sums it all up. There are plenty of cameos to explore, best left to surprise.
The overall production is yet again proving that CGI cinematography isn’t everything. The Muppets has come a long way since its first appearance in 1955 thanks to its creator Jim Henson. Since then Walt Disney has remained consistent in its production but slightly advanced in its effects regarding the crime caper blend thrown in this time around, suiting the emergence of Constantine. The musical premise is euphoric and wonderfully pieced together giving off a pantomime effect we know all too well.
James Bobin has succeeded yet again in crafting an enticing story with competent dialogue while managing to juggle its burlesque roots. The self-referential concept is still very much inexistence. As you would expect there is a considerable amount of Muppet appearances; the bickering companionship of the aging Waldorf and Statler, Gonzo (the great), Fozzie the Bear and Animal, to name some favourites. The vast majority are shunned, which may be down to the reliance of Rick Gervais as the villain and Kermit’s Russian equivalent Constantine. Both characters conceive the comedy worth remembering while in truth, the rest of the Muppets get on with the show by encouraging you to sing along.
However, it is the choice of dialogue that makes Muppets Most Wanted so relevant in its topic and witty in its outcome; taunting modern social networks and its use of film reviews, to scorning the morals of the average journalist. It is the humorous ridicule of such topics that are thrown out there for you to recognise, but, you can still enjoy the Muppets Most Wanted for its nostalgia and slapstick elements.
G (See IFCO for details)
Muppets Most Wanted is released on 28th March 2014