Where else can you watch a film where you bring together a cast including Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Lady Gaga, Tom Hiddleston, Christoph Waltz, Salma Hayek, Danny Trejo, Stanley Tucci, Ray Liotta, Zach Galifianakis, Usher, Céline Dion, Josh Groban and Sean Combs (P. Diddy), whilst referencing Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal amongst other pieces of classic cinema, make it accessible to both children and adults alike and feature an out of this world storyline accompanied by some of the catchiest pieces of music in recent cinema? Well the answer is James Bobin’s follow up to his 2011 comedy success, the revival of The Muppets, The Muppets Most Wanted.
Bobin, best known for his work on The Flight Of The Conchords and Da Ali G Show, may not have looked the obvious choice to reviving a set of the most loved children’s characters in history and yet if his previous outing is anything to go by, then Most Wanted should be just as successful. In all honesty, this second film is funnier, cleverer and to all extents and purposes, a much more thrilling journey than the 2011 successor. Picking up directly where the first left of, the audience find The Muppets having finished their final song after finally coming back together and unsure what to do next; no more Jason Segel or Amy Adams, they are on their own. That is until they decide to have a meeting with Ricky Gervais (who is actually brilliant in this subtle and under the radar role), who plays Dominic Badguy, an ‘agent’ who works with Rihanna and now wants to work with The Muppets. Initially Kermit is unsure about Dominic but after a little budge from recent addition to the crew, Walter (who joined the gang in the previous film), Kermit gives in and they embark on a tour across Europe.
Unbeknownst to the gang, in a top prison facility in the Siberian desert, an escaped convict is on the loose – Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog (ultimately just Kermit but with a beauty spot, which nevertheless makes him look sinister). Dominic is working with Constantine and their ultimate goal is to steal Britain’s crown jewels, but they have to travel across Europe picking up the clues and keys to prepare themselves for The Tower of London. Of course, our friends, The Muppets tour across the same continent is not a coincidence…
Whilst all this is going on, Miss Piggy still hasn’t given up on the idea that she will one day marry Kermit, so with all her might, she forces him into engagement. What she doesn’t realise is that Kermit is actually Constantine…
With Constantine on the loose and Kermit framed in his place, there is no telling what chaos could happen if Dominic and Constantine succeed – not only are they trying to pull off one of the biggest thefts in the world but they also want to rip apart The Muppets and land them all in jail by framing them.
Of course, this is The Muppets and someone will always be along to save the day…
In terms of the primary casting, alongside The Muppets are a trifecta of hilarious and wonderful performances from Ricky Gervais, who learns very quickly what it is like to be number two, Tina Fey, who gives a touching and extravagant performance as the singing Russian prison guard and Ty Burrell plays Jean, an Interpol officer on the trail of the thefts around the continent. All three of them have perfect coming timing and have truly thrown themselves into the roles; what makes them even better is that they look as if they are having such good fun and that has always been what make The Muppets so enjoyable. Their interactions with the characters are great and in particular are the relationships between Fey’s Nadya with Kermit and Jean alongside Sam The Eagle, who spend most of the film trying to outwit each other as Sam is from an American crime agency and thinks he can solve the thefts without Jean but in the end they learn that they need each other.
But what makes The Muppets is the cameos and Most Wanted is packed to the brim; above are just some of the names in the film but they are each wonderful in their own way. What is wonderful about The Muppets is that it means something different to each member of the audience; whether it is a child simply enjoying watching talking animals or an older audience watching with nostalgia to when Jim Henson created the gang or someone clued in on popular culture, who finds the appearance of people like Lady Gaga and Salma Hayek a wonderful addition to the silliness. Each cameo is nurtured in the film and no one is forgotten, they each get their turn at a joke and with Bobin and co-writer, Nicholas Stoller’s comic charm, there is no reason they cannot bring a smile to your face.
Finally, the music of The Muppets has always been important – as a troupe, a circus of performance artists, The Muppets have always harked back with references to vaudeville and shows of yesteryear, where music would fully interact with live acts, circus tricks and comedy – they always put on a real show. These films would be nothing without the charm and wit of a great musical score, which Most Wanted certainly delivers. From the first song about doing a sequel (and how they are never as good as the first film), to Fey’s catchy welcome to prison piece to Miss Piggy’s stunning and heart wrenching duet with Celine Dion about the love of her life, there is something for everyone. The music really adds a whole new level to the film, providing entertainment but also, at points really showcasing the inner emotions of the characters.
The Muppets Most Wanted is a hilarious, non stop thrills ride – fun for all ages and tells an exciting story. Going from strength to strength, this is one of the funniest films in years and hopefully is a marker for a new generation of Muppets watchers to come and join those who have been watching forever.