Muppets Most Wanted (2014) Directed by James Bobin. With Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey. Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson.
Following the critical acclaim of the last Muppets film, writer/director James Bobin returns to oversee another adventure with Kermit and co, this time moving away from the nostalgic feel that made the last outing feel like a big Muppet group-hug, and more toward that of a gritty, doppelgänger crime thriller. With Muppets.
The plot revolves around evil Russian muppet frog, Constantine, who with the help of a similarly dastardly Ricky Gervais, sets about an elaborate jewel-heist plan, while in the meantime, framing Kermit as a criminal and taking his place as the leader of the gang.
While you could never call a Muppets film ‘edgy’, this direction ensures it never scales the same heights as the previous offering, and as such, is harder to love. Of course, it’s a hard heart that dislikes the Muppets and once again, Bobin does a fine job of keeping the characters alive in a CG-animated world that they ought to be struggling to survive in.
As we know, the Muppets are all about putting on a show and thus, undoubtedly, the highlights of the film are the original songs written by Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie. A potent mix of clever and catchy, the film seems to come to life whenever a number strikes up.
The good news is, there’s more than enough to keep the kids happy here, even if the adults aren’t catered for as much as they were last time out. As ever, there’s a multitude of cameos, and Ricky Gervias seems to have fun as the pantomime bad guy (he’s called Dominic Badguy).
One other minor gripe. This might be a personal complaint, rather than one that will be widely felt. In the UK, we have been subjected to a long-running advertising campaign featuring talking Meerkats with comedy Russian accents. It wasn’t long before these adverts became insufferable. Constantine the Frog sounds just like one. It’s not his fault, but for me, the association made me want to smash the TV in. That’s not how I expected to feel, watching a Muppets movie. 3/5