Movie Review - Muppets Most Wanted

Whereas the previous film The Muppets (2011) felt like a solid and more consistent piece, this sequel feels like a patchwork. This is representative through the countless and endless amount of celebrity cameos. Many of whom are only on screen for a second or two. Perhaps to make these celebrities feel better, the director James Bobin throws them into the final musical number, mainly using green screen layering, but these celebrities are literally photo-shopped into the final scene in a way that makes them look like a patchwork quilt of celebrities. The Photo-Shop effect looks obvious and feels unnecessarily desperate. A lot of the jokes given to the celebrities were cheap and easy. It seemed as if not much thought went into the celebrity presences at all. It's all rather slapdash.

There is a curiosity about this movie. It appears stuck in the 20th century, even though most of the celebrities are 21st century. The Muppets don't use modern electronic devices like cell phones or computers. They go on a world tour and their vehicle of choice is a steam locomotive that looks like something out of a western.

Even the villains' plot is such a temporal clash. This might be a spoiler alert, but, in order to steal the Crown Jewels of England, which are protected with lasers and high tech sensors, the villains need a relic that also probably pre-dates the Reformation in order to get past those lasers.

The previous film was built on nostalgia, a longing and constantly looking back on the past with fondness. This film continues that infatuation with the past. You look at a film like Ocean's Eleven (2001), which is a heist movie where the thieves have to overcome modern-day security with modern-day technology. This film, which is also a heist movie for the most part, has its thieves overcoming modern-day security with a century-old's technology. The thieves here use a sledgehammer to get through a wall, not a drill or any kind of power tool.

There's even a joke where one of the Muppets that's trying to catch the villains points out to Ty Burrell (Modern Family) who plays an Interpol agent named Jean Pierre Napoleon that they're not using modern technology to try to track the villains. It's a wonder why Bobin would limit the Muppets that way. None of the Muppets use the Internet. I've seen more newspapers in use and in people's hands in this movie than in all movies going back five years.

Perhaps, Bobin is trying to maintain some kind of innocence with the Muppets, keep them frozen in a certain time. There might be fear that really moving them into the modern-era could hurt the Muppets or further underscore their irrevelance.

The script has a good amount of quips and one-liners, but otherwise is boring. Ricky Gervais plays Dominic, the human character who interacts with the Muppets the most, and Gervais feels very tame, not as funny as he could have been. Tina Fey plays Nadya, the other human who has the most interaction, and Fey feels less engaging as well.

Aside for a lot of musical celebrities like Lady Gaga, Usher and P. Diddy, a lot of the celebrity cameos are foreign actors like Christoph Waltz and Salma Hayek. Those two might be recognizable or familiar to most adult audiences in the United States. There are some cameos by actors who might be famous in foreign countries, even the United Kingdom, but not to Americans.

One such cameo is Russell Tovey, a young, sexy, British actor who has been in a ton of British TV series and films. He recently guest starred in the HBO series Looking, but other than that, he's not well known in America. This movie could have provided him an introduction to America, a bigger introduction, but he's literally on screen for a few seconds to deliver one line. This is kind of my summation of the movie. It had great talent, but didn't really do much with them.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG for some mild action.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 46 mins.


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