1 The Muppet Mindset: MUPPETS MOST WANTED Film Review

Mar 12, 2014

MUPPETS MOST WANTED Film Review

Ryan Dosier - I've given myself a day to let Muppets Most Wanted sit with me and I've come to a conclusion: it's the craziest, funniest, smartest, most impressive Muppet movie since The Muppets Take Manhattan. Right from the first frame of the movie, it explodes into a cavalcade of hilarity that we haven't seen from the Muppets since at least The Great Muppet Caper. The film is literally moment after moment and line after line and gag after gag of hilarious comedy.

Muppets Most Wanted was everything I wanted it to be and more than I expected it to be. The entire team not only seems reinvigorated in the new movie, but they seem to be alive with electric excitement and wacky, wonderful Muppet enthusiasm. The humor, charm, style, weirdness, musicality, and wonder of the Muppets is back in full, unstoppable force. I was honestly floored and a little exhausted after the movie just because I was laughing so hard, smiling so much, and feeling so ridiculously impressed by the whole thing.

The stars of this film are Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Constantine. At no point do any of the human cast members become main characters (at least not to the level of Jason Segel or Amy Adams in The Muppets), and all of them add so much to the movie. Ricky Gervais is understated and incredible with Constantine. Ty Burrell is brilliant as a bumbling Frenchman, and he and Sam Eagle are my favorite subplot in the movie--they work so, so well together. Tina Fey might just steal the show... she's brilliant as ever and has some stellar lines and singing chops.

Kermit gets the best story in the movie. I was a little worried when I found out that he would be removed from the rest of the Muppets for a lot of the film, but if you have those worries too don't even give it a second thought. Kermit (and the incomparable Steve Whitmire) shows that he's a strong enough character to do anything--and he does. He sings, he dances, he leads, he falls, he rises, he fights for his friends, he fights for Miss Piggy... he's incredible. Kermit is the strongest character in Muppets Most Wanted and I'm so incredibly glad to say that.

Constantine gives Kermit a run for his money, though. Matt Vogel has to be commended and lauded for bringing to life another incredible new Muppet. He blew every one of my expectations sky high. Constantine has two songs in the film and they're both so, so good. He dances, he does martial arts, he blows things up, he pulls a gun at one point... it's crazy. But crazy in the best way. I really can't stop thinking about just how funny Constantine is. He's a slimy charmer and an evil person, but he's even vaguely innocent at some points. It's a nimble tightrope, but Constantine walks it so well. I sincerely hope he comes back for more... I'll be upset if he doesn't.

Miss Piggy gets so much to do in this movie it's crazy. She's a total star in Muppets Most Wanted and it's beautiful. Everything she does is spot-on and Eric Jacobson has captured the character in such a profound way. Piggy has such an amazing emotional journey in this film. Her featured song with Celine Dion is one of her best--a true winner. Piggy's relationship with Kermit is spelled out and discussed in real terms in Muppets Most Wanted and there's finally a grasp on who they really are. It's beautiful.

I'm thrilled to say that the other Muppets get a lot of fun, fun moments throughout. In fact, don't think there's any scene in the whole thing that doesn't have a Muppet present. Fozzie, Walter, and Animal get a delightful subplot and I'm such a fan of Fozzie and Walter as a team. More please. I was so thrilled that Gonzo got an extreme improvement on screen time from last movie. He comes alive more than he has in years. Dave Goelz shines so bright in this movie--Bunsen, Waldorf, and Beauregard also get lots of fun moments. Sam Eagle is awesome and funny as ever, Scooter is the omnipresent voice of control, Rowlf gets some wonderful jabs in, the only member of the Electric Mayhem who doesn't have at least two lines is Zoot, Pepe is much more featured (but not overly so), Bobby Benson has an unreal appearance, and Rizzo is my favorite part of the entire movie--with just one line.

The music in Muppets Most Wanted is spectacular and Muppetational and I love each and every song. There seriously is not one song I will be skipping when listening to the soundtrack (on repeat, for weeks). Bret McKenzie's style fits the Muppets so well. I honestly think his music is the best thing to happen to the Muppets in years. Every song is a huge production number and blows me away. They're all catchy and clever and hilarious.

"We're Doing a Sequel" sets the stage for the outrageous film ahead and seeing the Muppets step out in gold tuxedoes in a massive, unreal musical number had me tearing up, "I'm Number One (You're Number Two)" showcases Constantine and Ricky Gervais so well and is so catchy, "The Big House" spotlights Tina Fey's singing ability and the lyrics are endlessly clever, "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)" is Constantine's other song and it's been stuck in my head for two days straight, and "The Interrogation Song" is a really different song style that fits the movie, Ty Burrell, and Sam Eagle perfectly, then there's "Something So Right" which is Piggy's huge number with Celine Dion--it's immense and wonderful. Is there an Oscar-worthy tune in that bunch? I'd argue there's a few.

I'm wracking my brain, and there are extremely few things that I do not adore about Muppets Most Wanted. There are so many surprise appearances from Muppets, not celebrities, that I was blown away. Characters I didn't expect to see showed up and spoke. I think that's the most lasting aspect of Muppets Most Wanted: It's unexpected. The number of times I burst out laughing at something unexpected someone said or did are too numerous to count. The Muppets have always been at their best when doing the unexpected, and Muppets Most Wanted is their greatest showcase of that in years. I would also be remiss if I didn't praise the incredible puppetry in this movie. There are more full body Muppet shots than ever and they're all perfectly executed. The Muppets have never been more real. Kermit gets to be an action star, Constantine gets to tap dance on a stair railing, Gonzo rides a motorcycle... the characters are alive and real and thriving in Muppets Most Wanted.

Honestly, the only issues I have with the movie are some embarrassingly bad green screen (involving humans!) at the very end and the fact that the characters in the movie refer to the title of the movie as The Muppets... Again! It's practically unnoticeable if you didn't know that The Muppets... Again! was originally the title, but for crazy Muppet fans it's a little weird--and maybe a little funny. But that's it. That's really all I can think of that I didn't swoon over in Muppets Most Wanted. Two very minor things.

Everything in this movie works. From the music all the way to the impeccable set design that taps into the gritty, kind of shoddy theme the Muppets represent. The whole movie is firing all cylinders and it doesn't stop until the credits roll--and there's even some gags to be found there! My highest praise goes to the Muppet performers, who have made a movie that they all seem to adore. Steve Whitmire never loses sight of who Kermit is and gets to explode with that great Kermit anger. Eric Jacobson stuns as Miss Piggy, cracks up as Fozzie, and glows as Sam Eagle. Bill Barretta plays a one off character with no lines that pulls the rug right out from the whole movie. Peter Linz gives Walter great, great reason to fit in with the Muppets now. David Rudman is Scooter and he's literally perfect. And Matt Vogel wins MVP of the movie for Constantine (plus Floyd, Sweetums, Lew Zealand, and Crazy Harry). I was also beyond thrilled to see a tribute to both Jerry Nelson and Jane Henson in the credits--it's near the end, so don't leave.

Muppets Most Wanted is a brilliantly funny, endlessly impressive example of the Muppets at their best. If The Muppets was meant to reintroduce us the Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted is meant to reintroduce us to who the Muppets really are: insane, weird, musical, and touching--until someone blows the touching moment right up. It's spot on and I'm just stunned by the movie. I really, really can't wait to see it again and laugh at it all over and over again. I think I'll close this review with a slightly amended section of my review from November 2011 after I saw The Muppets...

Go see this movie, Muppet fans. From one hardcore fan to however many of you are out there... Go see this movie. There is guaranteed to be at least one thing to make you grin from ear to ear, tap your toes, and laugh out loud.







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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