The Muppets returned to the big screen with a self-titled relaunch in 2011, and it was met with a lot of excitement from fans, but was not a runaway success. The follow up Muppets Most Wanted was received with less enthusiasm, and barely made fifty million domestically. Which is too bad as it’s the slightly better film. Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Ty Burrell are the main humans and are joined by all the main Muppets (like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and more) in this European caper. My review of the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray of the film follows after the jump.
Picking up seconds after the last film ended, the gang realize they’re doing a sequel and sing a song about how they’re back though they know that sequels usually aren’t as good as the first (and also note that this is actually the seventh film in the franchise, but whatever). They decide to go on the road again with the assistance of Dominic Badguy (Gervais) who wants them to tour Europe. Kermit is hesitant about the idea as the group has only just got back together and haven’t rehearsed as much as he’d like, but he’s cajoled by the other members to do it. Kermit also wants to start small, but Dominic has ulterior motives and books them in a bigger venue in order to rob the museum next door as he’s a burglar known as The Lemur. He’s also working with Constantine, the most dangerous criminal in the world, and someone who looks almost exactly like Kermit outside of a mole.
Such leads Constantine to slap a mole on Kermit’s face and get him arrested, while Constantine covers up his imperfection and pretends to be Kermit, which no one besides Animal notices. Where Kermit was a stern taskmaster, Constantine tells the Muppets they can do whatever they want, and finally proposes to Miss Piggy. All the while Kermit is kept in a Siberian prison where Nadya (Fey) wants Kermit to direct their talent show, while Sam the Eagle and Jean Pierre Napoleon (Burrell) are on the trail of the Lemur and think that one of the Muppets is the likely thief, with Fozzie Bear their most likely suspect.
As was the case with The Muppets, the highlights of the film are the songs written by Flight of the Conchords star Brett McKenzie, with the opening number “We’re Doing a Sequel” and “I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu)” the best of the bunch. And when the film is a full blown musical, it’s excellent. And where the last film spent a lot of time reminding the audience that they do or should love the Muppets, Most Wanted has an actual story, and isn’t as obsessed with nostalgia, which makes it a little more fun to watch, while writer/director James Bobbin (who also helmed the last film) keeps the tone light and fun. Gervais may have the most fun of the celebrity stars, and it’s fun to see Tina Fey singing and dancing, but they don’t pop as much as the special guest stars, who usually get a line or a scene and quickly leave the film. The best guest stars are the prison inmates as played by performers like Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo and Jermaine Clement.
That said, and it’s partly in the text of the film, the new Muppet performers (replacing players like the late Jim Henson and Frank Oz) feel just a little off, and though the film is engaging and an easy watch, perhaps there’s just a sense that though the people making it are doing it out of love and respect for the characters, the film exists also partially to prop up a brand. It’s a good enough film, but it feels a little like contractual obligation.
The film is presented in widescreen (1.78:1) and DTS-HD 7.1 surround. The presentation is – as to be expected – excellent. The film also comes with a DVD and digital copy. The film comes in both the theatrical (107 min.) and extended cut (119 min.), which includes a couple more jokes and cameos (including Peter Serafinowicz), but isn’t all that different in approach, so it’s not a substantially different experience. The longer cut is maybe a little more fun to watch because the film is already a bit lackadaisical. Also included is “The Statler and Waldorf Cut,” which (if you’re familiar with the character) you can guess how that plays out. Alas, the rest of the extras are lacking. There’s a ten minute blooper reel titled “The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets History,” which is exactly that (though it features some padding to get there) while “Rizzo’s Biggest Fan” (3 min.) has Rizzo writing an unintentionally not anonymous letter to get a bigger role in the film, and the extras concluded with a music video for “I’ll Get You What You Want” performed by Bret McKenzie.