'Muppets' bring the laughs... again
2011's "The Muppets" was a brilliant nostalgia-infused tribute to the most famous group of puppets the world has ever known. It took an entire film to bring the Muppets back to the forefront of popular culture. With the sequel, the gang finds itself free to return to the ridiculous comedic antics that made the bunch a household name in the first place. "Muppets Most Wanted" is good, clean family-friendly cinema that, young or old, will have you constantly laughing from beginning to end.
Immediately following the conclusion of the previous film, the Muppet gang sets out on a world tour. Things go awry after Kermit is mistaken for Constantine (the world's most dangerous frog who coincidently bears a striking resemblance to Kermit) and is sent to a prison while Constantine joins the Muppets. He poses as Kermit himself in an attempt to use the gang as part of a plan to steal the crown jewels of England.
Three of comedy's biggest stars join the cast for the sequel. Ricky Gervais plays Dominic Badguy (a.k.a. "The Lemur"), the secondary villain and sidekick to Constantine while Tina Fey plays Nadya, a Russian prison guard obsessed with Kermit, and Modern Family's Ty Burrell plays Jean Pierre Napoleon, a French Interpol Inspector who teams up with Sam the Eagle in the hunt for Constantine.
The trio of stars are all self-proclaimed Muppet fanatics and as such I'm sure none of them have any problem playing second fiddle to the real stars of the movie. Nonetheless each delivers a solid over-the-top performance, with Burrell's Inspector Napoleon getting the biggest laughs thanks to a bunch of well timed gags (leaving for his "annual eight-week paid vacation," driving in an absurdly small car etc.)
What makes "Muppets Most Wanted" so great is that it marks a return to the truly absurd antics the Muppets are known for. From Gonzo's indoor running of the bulls to an elaborate Broadway production put on by a group of prison inmates you'll find yourself laughing again and again. Slapstick and absurd humor have always been Muppet hallmarks but the onslaught of well-written and perfectly timed punch lines and gags are just as ingenious. In true Muppet fashion, there are tons of self referential, fourth wall-destroying jokes mixed in with some carefully placed pop culture references to films such as "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Gonzo with the Wind." The entire gang from Fozzie to Ms. Piggy and even Statler and Waldorf remain as funny as ever.
A slew of celebrity cameos from Selma Hayek to Christoph Waltz and Celine Dion doesn't hurt either.
Songwriter Bret McKenzie - who won an Oscar for his work on "The Muppets" - returns for the sequel. The elaborate musical numbers are highlighted by the songs "We're Doing a Sequel" and "Something So Right" which you might find yourself whistling long after you've left the theater. Classic Muppet tunes including "Together Again" from "The Muppets Take Manhattan" also make a welcome return.
While the film doesn't quite reach the elaborate heights achieved by its immediate predecessor - there's one too many musical numbers forced in where a conventional scene would do fine and it's not quite as emotional a ride - "Muppets Most Wanted" does a swell job of doing what the Muppets do best: make us laugh. If your looking for a great film for the entire family to enjoy this spring, look no further.
Oh, and they gave Rizzo a line this time around, so bonus points for that.
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