Muppets Most Wanted

For twentysomthings like myself, there was a long stretch of time when a new Muppet movie was nothing to get excited about. While 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol was worth the price of admission, entries later in the decade ranged from passable (Muppet Treasure Island) to mediocre (Muppets from Space). But then, after more than a decade out of theatres, the franchise came roaring back with 2011's highly entertaining The Muppets. Unfortunately, the newest entry, Muppets Most Wanted, falls far short of the standard set by its most recent predecessor. Kids will no doubt like the movie, but for everyone else there's little to savor.

This is even more disappointing because the movie gets off to a promising start. The first song, "We're Doing a Sequel," comes barely a minute in and is an entertaining, high-energy number. Before long, however, the plot has kicked in. The Muppets are approached by a man named Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who suggests they go on a world tour and hire him as their manager. Kermit the Frog (voiced by Steve Whitmire) is against it, but soon the Muppets are on their way to Berlin.

What the Muppets don't know is that Dominic is partners in crime with Constantine (voiced by Matt Vogel), who is the "world's most dangerous frog" and, except for a mole on his cheek, looks exactly like Kermit. They have a plan to steal England's Crown Jewels. Constantine escapes from a gulag in Siberia run by Nadya (Tina Fey) early in the movie, kidnaps Kermit and assumes his identity. Animal (voiced by Eric Jacobson) is instantly suspicious, but everyone else is happy with "Kermit's" new carefree attitude - so happy, in fact, they aren't alarmed when he gets stage freight or suddenly becomes far more aggressive with Miss Piggy (Jacobson). Meanwhile, Kermit finds himself in the gulag. His attempts to escape are constantly thwarted by Nadya, who has seen every prison movie ever made.

There was real poignancy in the 2011 film, which spoke to the fear of being forgotten that everyone has regardless of age. This film touches on that (Kermit can't believe none of his friends have noticed his absence) but doesn't develop it. There are very few laughs here and the most entertaining thing for people older than 9 will probably be counting how many stars make cameos. Of course, even that eventually becomes tiresome.

The movie's only real spark comes from Ty Burrell as Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napolean. Speaking with a French accent that somehow manages to not be annoying, Napolean teams up with Sam Eagle (Jacobson) to track down Dominic and Constantine.  Their scenes together have a lot of comic potential. Perhaps they should team up for a buddy cop movie?

There's no denying the legend of the Muppets, who have shown a durability most characters could never hope to achieve. It's also remarkable how consistent they have remained as different actors have voiced them over the years. Does that make Muppets Most Wanted worth seeing? No. Better luck next time, guys.