Kermit and company return for a bizarre, frantic and pretty fun sequel to 2011’s The Muppets film, with this spring’s Muppets Most Wanted. Arriving literally seconds after the original’s musical finale, we join the gang as they find themselves in a fame fuelled whirlwind with no idea of where they’re headed.
Enter Ricky Gervais, slickly suited up as Dominic Badguy (really), who impresses the Muppets with his fast talk and suave demeanour and convinces them to book him as their agent, under Kermit’s slightly furrowed brow.
Of course our amphibian hero is onto something, but before he can act he is imprisoned under the false pretence of being a wanted criminal, and is mistaken as the near identical jewel thief Constantine.
It’s a comfortable, calamity induced plot with the sort of classic Muppet humour that brings smiles but not belly laughs. Christoph Waltz performing the waltz, dated references to European culture and a rash of crime solving clichés, this is comedy that could only spawn from a show that is nearly 40 years old.
Something about this sequel however feels younger. Gone are the nostalgic references of a time when your Kermit watch was your most prized possession and the song Pictures in My Head brought a stubborn tear to your eye, with the exception of one sweet and sorrowful appearance from Rizzo. Instead the focus is on Muppets 2.0, a new entity aimed at younger audiences through a heavier emphasis on slapstick and silliness. Cameos come thick and fast for adults, but you need a keen eye to catch them with star favours from Tom Hiddleston, Stanley Tucci and Zach Galifianakis lasting mere seconds.
Larger human parts are satisfactory; Tina Fey is sound as prison officer come closet Kermit fanatic Nadya, Ty Burrell brings impressive comedic timing despite his character being as dated as it comes, and Ricky Gervais is unashamedly cringe worthy.
The magic of the Muppets is best preserved in the film’s music. Bret McKenzie thankfully returns following an Oscar winning soundtrack for The Muppets with a score of comical, heart-warming songs that win over the unconvinced and put a shine on the predictable.
For all the catchy, emotive tunes however Muppets Most Wanted has lost its magic somewhat. It’s not without the inevitable charm and cheer brought with a collective of adored characters, but whereas The Muppets had the appeal of seeing everyone back together, the gang has lost some momentum and the plot and supporting characters are not enough to pick it back up. Younger fans will have a fantastic time but those familiar with this lovable band of creatures may hope that this is the last time that they light the lights, on the big screen anyway.