Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

It would help if the Muppets lost their French accent in this film.

There's lots of laughs in Muppets Most Wanted, their latest screen adventure, but boy, does this effort ever drag when Sam the Eagle and Ty Burrell ever show up. More on them in a moment.

Constantine, the world's most dangerous frog, busts out of a Russian gulag. He's a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog. The bad guy's right-hand man, Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), poses as a promoter to lure Kermit and company for a European tour. The plan is for Constantine to switch places with Kermit and use his troupe as pawns to eventually steal the Crown Jewels.

Kermit is hesitant to hit the road, but Dominic manipulates Fozzy, Rolph the Dog, Miss Piggy and the others into pressuring their leader to hit the road. Dominic promises the show's cast can do anything they want. Hey, is this a message about discipline for children in this film?

Kermit is picked up by police and shipped back to Russia. He's in a gulag watched over by commandant Nadya (Tina Fey). "You've got the wrong frog," he protests to no avail.

Meanwhile, the Muppets don't clue in that something's not quite right with Kermit, including his voice and inability to remember the names of most of the show's cast members. Shows become marathons with Miss Piggy opting to sing the hits of Celine Dion while Animal hankers for an extended drum solo. Kermit, so long refusing to commit to marriage with Miss Piggy, is more receptive when Constantine takes his place. He's trying to keep her happy, leading to one of the film's best songs, I'll Get What You Want, a disco effort complete with silver ball and Constantine sporting a white dress shirt and plenty of dry ice.

Sight gags, cameos - kudos to Salma Hayek for teaming up with The Great Gonzo for a running of the bulls bit on stage and physical humour offer lots of laughs.

But the pace deadens when police investigators Sam the Eagle and Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) show up. Their bits are seldom funny. Napoleon's caricature of a stereotypical French goverment employee are tiresome. This subplot does not work.

Keep a pen and paper handy to track all the celebrity cameos. Didn't I see Ray Liotta in Muppets in Space too? I missed Lady Gaga. I'm no fan of Celine Dion, but her duet with Miss Piggy is a highlight here. Tony Bennett, Sean Combs, Frank Langella, Stanley Tucci, Christop Waltz are also along for the fun.

Wow. Almost 40 years have passed since The Muppets made their first film. Kermit and the gang can still put together a good night's entertainment with Muppets Most Wanted.

RATING: 7.5/10

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