Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Still from Muppets: Most Wanted. Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures.
Still from Muppets Most Wanted. Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

You’ve seen all of the pre-movie build-up—some of it quite charming—but your wallet has been burned by kids’ movies in the past. So before you shell out 10 bucks a head, you’re asking yourself that perennial question of 21st century parenthood:

See it? Stream it? Or forget about it? Is Muppets Most Wanted actually worth seeing in the theater?

The short answer, of course, is see it. In a theater. Now. I mean, what kind of a heartless bastard are you, anyway? This is the Muppets we’re talking about. It’s the only show your parents ever allowed you to watch at the dinner table in the entire 873 years of your misbegotten childhood—not some anodyne, anthropomorphized travesty devised by Madison Avenue Mad Men in order to fill in the space alongside the fries in a Happy Meal box.

Now, once you get to the theater, you’ll need to spring for a treat, because this is a cause for celebration. Skip the $4 bottled water, however: This baby moves at a decent clip and a mid-movie trip to the bathroom is going to mean missing one, maybe two of Bret McKenzie’s brilliant songs. If that means missing Constantine and Ricky Gervais’ toe-tapping, soft-shoe laden “I’m Number One” duet, well…I’m here to tell you, you don’t want to do that (#ruetheday).

While we’re on the subject, you will also not want to miss the Russian Gulag gang’s Tina Fey-led “The Big House” or Ty Burrell and Sam Eagle’s Sondheim-ish “Interrogation Song.” Really. All people with walnut-sized bladders should be told that they have the rest of their long, happy, productive lives to hydrate and that children who want to live to see tomorrow should quietly rot their teeth with Jujubes or Rolos and allow their mother to enjoy a brilliant piece of musical theater uninterrupted for once in their lives.

As to the plot of Muppets: Most Wanted, frankly, we’re not exactly treading on unexplored plot-device territory here. Turns out, the number one most-wanted criminal in the world, Constantine, is a dead ringer for our favorite amphibious hero, Kermit—and with the help of his henchman, Dominic Badguy (a brilliantly-cast Ricky Gervais), Constantine plans on stealing the royal crown jewels and framing Kermit for the crime.

Meanwhile, the freshly-reunited Muppet gang is putting on shows all over Spain, Germany, and Ireland with the booking guidance of their new assistant manager, Dominic Badg–heyyyy, wait a minute—all the while, wondering if there’s something just a little different about Kermit these days. The gang is onto something because the real Kermit is actually imprisoned in Siberia, forced to produce Broadway-caliber shows with the inmates, all while Constantine breaks into some of the world’s most famous museums, woos Piggy, and plots the theft of the century.

  • Will Constantine succeed in his dastardly plot?
  • Will Ty Burrell’s Jean Pierre Napoleon solve the caper in time to take six weeks of vacation with his family?
  • Will Tina Fey’s prison matron, Nadya, single-handedly bring back the ushanka and long coat?

For now, I leave the answers to these and other questions to your frenzied imaginations…

"MUPPETS MOST WANTED" (Pictured) KERMIT. Photo by: Jay Maidment ©2013 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo from Muppets Most Wanted by: Jay Maidment ©2013 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

But Andrea (I can already hear you saying), I was hoping for more from the cameos. Where was the surly, tyrolean brilliance of Steve Martin’s sommelier in this new Muppet movie? Or Madeline Kahn’s mythic lush? And surely you thought Christoph Waltz and Salma Hayek were grossly under-utilized? Yes, absolutely. I hear you. At the same time, I see your Steve Martin and raise you a Tom Hiddleston… and a Zach Galifianakis…

Listen, I didn’t say that this movie was perfect (did I mention the Celine Dion/Miss Piggy duet? That is your chance to run to the bathroom if you need to; like her heart, that particular song goes on. (Forfreakinever!) With those small caveats I am here to tell you, though, that Muppets Most Wanted is very good, charming, sincere, clean fun. You will feel as if you are holding hands with your younger self as you hum and laugh along with the film—or maybe that was just me. Actually, I make no promises there.

Just know that in an entertainment landscape where dystopia and sexuality (both of which have their place and time) seem to be encroaching on movies for younger and younger demographics, Muppets Most Wanted winds up being an all-ages-appropriate, song and dance-filled romp—and if you ask me, that is worth endorsing with your hard-earned cash.

Get the GeekDad Books!

   

(This is promotional material from Disney Australia. Hence, the April 10 release date. Don’t be fooled, the movie opens Friday, March 21, in the United States.)