Film Review: Muppets Fall Short in ‘Most Wanted’

“The Muppets” was a rousing success in 2011, bringing old and new fans to the franchise. At first glance, a sequel seems like a good idea. However, Jason Segel (“How I Met Your Mother”) did not return for “Muppets Most Wanted” and that creative spark is missing.

Fresh off of their successful opening, Kermit and friends wonder what they should do next, brainstorming ideas. Kermit picks Dominic Badguy’s (Ricky Gervais) proposal: a world tour. Meanwhile, Constantine, “the world’s most dangerous frog”, breaks out of the gulag in Siberia. It’s a classic case of mistaken identity when Constantine puts a mole on Kermit, sending the good frog to Siberia under the guard of Nadya (Tina Fey).

The World Tour is a front for Constantine and Dominic’s plans to steal the Crown Jewels, a trail that is closely (if not always correctly) pursued by Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napolean (Ty Burrell of “Modern Family”) and CIA Agent Sam Eagle. The banter between the two law enforcement agents comprises some of the best gags in the film, especially the badge contest and the small car.

Even though the film will generate laughs, it falls short of the creativity and humor of the previous installments. “Most Wanted” seems loosely put together, with a number of celebrity cameos thrown in. Kermit is having a bad day at the beginning, a feeling that pokes through the darker tone of the plot. Miss Piggy is in a weird and terrifying Celine Dion phase. Finally, a number of Muppets are underused, which stems from a failure of the production team to balance the time between Muppets and humans.

With all of these factors taken together, it’s easy to see why a teen flick “Divergent” took the top spot at the box office this past weekend: a sizable $56 million compared to a paltry $16.5 million for “Muppets Most Wanted”. Certainly there’s a high demand for sequels, but make sure it’s a good one before sending it to theaters. I recommend you wait for “Most Wanted” to be released on DVD or the ABC Family channel. Better yet, go watch the classic Muppets in action.

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