Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Muppets Most Wanted
The Muppets was the first Muppet movie in more than a decade, but it was a big hit with critics and did very well in theaters for a live action family film. A sequel was inevitable, but as the opening song of Muppets Most Wanted, the sequel is rarely as good as the original. Is this the case here? Is it one of the rare exceptions? If not, is it still good enough to check out?
The film begins right at the end of the previous movie, in fact we see two stand-ins for Gary and Mary, who do not appear in this movie. After a very self-referential opening song, we see the inside of a prison in Siberia where we see Constantine the frog, who is the spitting image of Kermit, only with a mole, and he's a lot more dangerous. He easily breaks out of the prison and escapes.
Meanwhile, the Muppets are approached by Dominic Badguy, it's pronounced Bad-gee, an entertainment manager, who wants to help the Muppets put on a world tour. While the Muppets are deciding if they should make this leap so soon after reforming, Dominic gets a call, he claims its from Bill Clinton, but it's Constantine. Dominic Budguy is a bad guy and he's working with Constantine. So why is he trying to get hired by the Muppets? We learn a little bit more shortly. Firstly, he convinces the Muppets that they need to act fast starting a European tour... in Berlin.
Once in Berlin, Kermit books the troupe into a small... and dingy... cabaret. It has been a while and he wants the Muppets to start small, make sure they are no longer rusty, and then grow from there. Dominic, on the other hand, wants to book the Muppets in the Berlin National Theater. Kermit thinks this is way too optimistic given the Muppets lack of basic rehearsals. He isn't sure they can even put on a show. However, Dominic appeals to the Muppets egos and soon Kermit is outvoted. This happens against when talking about the program for the night. Gonzo wants to do an indoor running of the bulls, because of course he does. Honeydew wants to show off his bomb attractor suit, which makes total sense. Miss Piggy wants to sing four or five Celine Dion songs. Is she insane?
Probably. Kermit and Miss Piggy get into a fight over wedding details. She doesn't want to serve flies at the wedding, while he hasn't proposed yet and doesn't want to propose. After the fight, Dominic suggests Kermit takes a walk along an abandoned East German canal. While there, Kermit is attacked by Constantine, who slaps a mole on Kermit and then runs away. Kermit is then mistaken for Constantine and arrested by the police, who send him right back to the Russian Gulag.
Meanwhile, a little green paint is all it takes for Constantine to impersonate Kermit and all of the Muppets fall for it, despite Constantine's accent. All of them, except Animal. (And eventually Walter begins to suspect.) While the Muppets put on their show that night, Constantine and Dominic break into the National Treasure Museum and steal two priceless paintings, and a rather obscure one. We soon learn the obscure painting had a clue on how to steal the Crown Jewels in London. That's why they needed to take the Muppets on a European tour. Two people are brought in to investigate this crime: Jean Pierre Napoleon, of Interpol, and Sam Eagle, of the C.I.A. They are forced to work together because of shared jurisdiction. Meanwhile in Siberia, Kermit has been sent back to Gulag 38B. At first the rest of the prisoners think Kermit is Constantine, until Kermit says thank you. Then they are about to shove him into the trash compactor, until he's rescued by Nadya, the prison guard. She at first thinks Kermit is Constantine, but then realizes he's Kermit the Frog... so she keeps him in the Gulag so he will help her win the talent show.
So those are the four main plot threads. The heist, the police procedural, the prison break, and the false identity mystery. ... There's also the wedding. The prison talent show. Nadya being in love with Kermit. This movie is packed with plot, but much of it is superfluous. The real selling points are the jokes and the songs and there are plenty of both. Granted, Muppets Most Wanted isn't as good as The Muppets was. It lacks the same heart as the previous installment had. Additionally, not all of the jokes work as well and there are more spots where the energy dipped. (Then again, I did watch the Unnecessarily Extended Edition, which is 12-minutes longer, so this could explain the minor pacing issues.) Finally, the songs are not as strong this time around. I have the soundtrack for the The Muppets and four of the songs are still in my heavy rotation on my MP3 play list. I don't think the same is going to happen here.
So admittedly, Muppets Most Wanted isn't as good as The Muppets was, nor is it as good as the original The Muppet Movie, but it is still really good. There are plenty of jokes that hit their mark, including a ton of self-referential jabs, and there are also many good songs. And like last time, the live-action cast is strong, even if some of the cameos are more gratuitous than usual. Overall, you could arguable that this is the third best film in the franchise. Maybe call it a three-way tie for third place with The Muppets Take Manhatten and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Extras begin with ten minutes of outtakes, which is always strange with the Muppets. The puppeteers treat the Muppets as characters separate to themselves when they are in character. So if they mess up a line, the character reacts. That said, a lot of the gag reel is Ricky Gervais cracking up. Rizzo's Biggest Fan is a three-minute featurette with Rizzo writing a letter to the director complaining about the lack of Rizzo in this movie. There is a music video for "I'll Get You What You Want". There is also a Statler and Waldorf cut. It's 102 seconds long, with introduction.
I have no complaints with the technical presentation. It might not be as flashy as a $100 million Sci-fi blockbuster, but the transfer looks amazing. The level of details is excellent, as are the colors. It goes without saying that there were no digital artifacts or compression issues that I noticed. The 7.1 surround sound track is immersive with plenty of activity in the surround sound speakers, at least for this type of release. Again, a big $100 million Sci-fi blockbuster would have more dynamic effects, bit this is still praise-worthy.
I'm not sure what the prices are, because the Amazon links just died. Hopefully they will be back soon.
If you are a fan of the franchise, then Muppets Most Wanted is absolutely worth picking up. It isn't the best film in the franchise, but it is near the top. The DVD and the Blu-ray Combo Pack don't have a ton of extras, but they have enough that it is worth picking up.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-08-07