September 24, 2020

BY MARK LORENTZ

Taxes and death are the two guarantees in life, but perhaps it’s time to throw another one into the mix – taxes, death and movie sequels.

Coming off the $88 million made at the box office by The Muppets back in 2011, Walt Disney Studios has given us the latest adventure from the Muppets gang, in Muppets Most Wanted.

With the comedic pedigree of Ricky Gervais (The Office U.K.), Tina Fey (30 Rock), and Ty Burrell (Modern Family) the real-life actors almost match the star power of Kermit the frog, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear. This time around the Muppets are in Europe, on the last leg of their world tour. They manage to find themselves stuck in the middle of a jewel heist by the world’s No. 1 criminal Constantine, who looks striking similar to Kermit aside from the cliché mole on his face (apparently that’s a prerequisite for criminal masterminds now.) This triggers a series of unfortunate but amusing events that carry the story throughout the movie.

Gervais plays the role of the world’s No. 2 criminal, Constantine’s sidekick, Dominic Badguy, pronounced Badge-ee, who deceives the Muppets as their tour manager in order for Constantine to do the old switcheroo with Kermit. This is where the movie misses the mark. Kermit is separated from the group most of the movie, sharing little screen time with his traditional co-stars. Part of the charm, or a lot of it with the Muppets, is the interaction and ongoing gags they have amongst each other, but with Kermit now locked in a gulag with iron-fisted Nadya (Fey), the head prison guard, as his main adversary, it’s up to the other Muppets to carry the film and none really step up and take over.

As with any Muppets movie, the song numbers always leave a lasting impression. Man or Muppet from The Muppets won best original song at the Academy Awards back in 2011, but the songs used in this movie feel like they were the leftovers from 2011. There’s no real memorable song, although I’m sure a few kids in the audience will be singing a line or two over and over again as they walk out of the theatre much to the chagrin of their parents.

One of the benefits of getting older is that you realize that movies made for children are actually packed full of jokes intended for adults. The movie will cater not only to little ones, but kids at heart too with clever lines and subtle jokes that will have children asking you to explain, and you giving the inevitable answer “you won’t understand.”

With cameos from countless celebrities, the movie keeps you entertained enough throughout the 112-minute run time that you never get bored, but you never feel as satisfied as you did when you watched The Muppets. Sure, there may be a handful of likeable scenes, but as a whole the movie feels flat. The real-life actors feel more like caricatures, missing the human element that worked so well for Amy Adams and Jason Segel three years ago.

Let’s throw in another life guarantee – taxes, death, movie sequels and movie sequels never being as good as their predecessor. The Muppets Most Wanted delivers what you would expect, nothing more, nothing less.

I give this movie three out of five stars.

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