Friday, April 04, 2014

We're Doing A Sequel

As a lifelong fan of the Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted was high on my to-see list. But the plan was to wait a week or two for the crowds of kids to die a bit, then pick a late show with a couple Muppet-loving friends of mine and enjoy. The plan worked flawlessly; the three of us got an entire theater to ourselves.

Although this is actually the eighth Muppet movie (a fact actually pointed out in the movie's opening number, "We're Doing a Sequel"), it invites the most comparison to their most recent film. Muppets Most Wanted is better in some ways, not as good in others.

The Muppets scored big points with me for bringing back the right small dose of sentimentality that the best Muppets stories have had. Muppets Most Wanted dials that down quite a bit, with a plot that isn't nearly as engaging. But Muppets Most Wanted does dial up the zany. The story is simply more ridiculous and fun.

Cameos abound, which of course is nothing new for the Muppets, but somehow even that felt turned up here. There seemed to be an endless list of celebrities lining up to poke a bit of fun at themselves, cut loose and be goofy, or even just show up for a single line. Half the fun was in not knowing who would appear next, so I won't spoil things with a list. But suffice it to say, it was great to see so many other adults who enjoy the Muppets as much as I do. And the main stars, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey, are all clearly having a blast.

Also improved this time around? The songs. Every Muppet film has featured at least a couple, though not all of them have gone full on musical. The last film had some memorable numbers (highlighted by "Man or Muppet"). So, as then, Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie was brought on to write the songs.If anything, he upped his game this time around. The melodies are more catchy, the lyrics more clever. And there's even an homage to cap the film, when they perform a slightly modified version of the signature song from The Muppets Take Manhattan: "Together Again (Again)."

In short, Muppets Most Wanted is just what I was looking for. Though not quite as good overall as the last outing, it's still well worth any fan's time. I give it a B+.

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