Muppets Most Wanted
A few years ago, The Muppets underwent sort of a post-modern reboot for a new generation, but it was going on the somewhat faulty logic that they had ever really left, or for that matter that they had ever been hip to begin with. The Muppets have always been unapologetically corny, that is part of their charm. Therefore the 2011 movie The Muppets, which was enjoyable in its own ways, felt a bit like it was trying too hard to sell the troupe to the new generation. Either you get the Muppets or not, but you don’t have to be sold on them. But The Muppets sort of placed new characters front and center – humans Jason Segel and Amy Adams and new Muppet Walter – and made Kermit, Miss Piggy and their friends seem almost like supporting characters in their own film.
Surprisingly, despite the knowing wink that sequels are never quite as good as the original in the opening production number “We’re Doing a Sequel,” Muppets Most Wanted goes back to the real strengths of the Muppets, bringing the iconic characters front and center, without the tongue-in-cheek attitude. You know what? By returning to the roots, this is actually a more satisfying (if a certainly more formulaic) film than the reboot.
Muppets Most Wanted feels like one of the earlier Muppet films with a bit of added zing. It’s what The Great Muppet Caperwould have been like if they were eccentric enough to do a prison production number from A Chorus Line featuring Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo. And intelligent enough to not even bring attention to the fact that a prison was doing a production number from A Chorus Line featuring Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo.
That is just one of many oddball gags trotted out, with little fanfare, in hopes that the audience was savvy enough to pick up on what was happening. The Muppets never felt the need to look down on their audience, nor did they assume that just because they are trying to make the kids laugh that they don’t have to entertain their parents, too.
Muppets Most Wanted works on two different levels for adults and children, and it mostly succeeds on both altitudes.
And if the basic storyline idea, that Kermit the Frog has an evil doppelganger who tries to take his place, is moldy to say the least, that somehow fits, too. You don’t go to the Muppets for innovation. Of course they would use an old cliché of a storyline, that is their whole raison d’etre.
The Muppets have been taking the mundane and making it magic for over four decades. Muppets Most Wanted shows they haven’t lost the knack.
Jay S. Jacobs