Latest ‘Muppets’ installment offers quick wit, unremarkable narrative

“Muppets Most Wanted” is the latest in the re-invigorated Muppet franchise, following 2011’s “The Muppets” which welcomed Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fonzie, and others back after years in limbo. I wouldn’t mind getting more of these every few years.

“Muppets Most Wanted” is more enjoyable than the 2011 film and about as charming as the best Muppet movies.

It’s cute, funny and giddily engaging. It is fun for kids and adults, particularly those who share fond nostalgia for the Muppets.

“Muppets Most Wanted” has what you expect from a Muppet movie — the Muppets, songs, a quick pace, visual gags, suitable humor and many brief cameos. The story is a take on the spy- movie genre and the mistaken- identity concept, as it turns out there’s a criminal on the loose who resembles Kermit the Frog in every way except for a mole on his cheek.

This is Constantine, who has escaped from a maximum security Gulag and has a plan in mind.

His plan is to kidnap Kermit, so he sticks a fake mole on his cheek to remove his identity and replaces him as Kermit is thrown into the Gulag.

Constantine, disguised as Kermit, fools the other Muppets (barely) as they embark on their world tour.

The world tour is a ruse for Constantine and his sidekick Dominic Badguy, played by Ricky Gervais, who acts as the Muppets’ manager, to steal as many valuable objects as possible before reaching to carry out a plan to steal England’s Crown Jewels.

Meanwhile, Kermit is locked inside the Gulag with no way of escape, as it is run by a crazed stage-obsessed dominatrix, played by Tina Fey, sporting a Russian accent, who winds up falling in love with Kermit.

Somehow he has to either break out of prison or patiently wait for his friends to figure out what has happened and come and save him.

The “Muppets Most Wanted” story is the least interesting element, but I guess you don’t see these movies for the stories because they’re equally unexceptional.

What makes it fun to watch is the quick humor, which is kid- friendly but adults can laugh at it too.

There are funny lines, funny visuals, funny use of cameos — for example, who doesn’t love to watch Danny Trejo as a rough prisoner singing a solo in “A Chorus Line?” and a very funny subplot involving Sam Eagle’s CIA agent teaming up with Ty Burrell’s Pink Panther- like French detective and going through the usual buddy-movie situations.

I know there may be a vague explanation of the comedic elements in this review, but one of the downsides to reviewing a comedy is omitting references to what’s funny, so audiences can see and laugh for themselves.

I can’t go into the musical numbers, except to say that they’re purposefully overdone for us to laugh at. It’s good to see these familiar faces again, and the Muppet performers do great jobs at supplying voiceover work for them.

They make these likable, appealing, funny puppets come to life.

Though, I’m still a little thrown off when I hear the new voice given to Miss Piggy. Gervais gets the least funny material to work with, despite one funny musical number in which he dances while acknowledging he’s only a sidekick to a frog.

Burrell is funny, as I said.

Fey is hilarious as the crazed Gulag warden. I could listen to her yell with an over-the-top Russian accent for hours.

“Muppets Most Wanted” is as good as the other good Muppet movies.

There is enough to laugh at, even more to smile at and it makes for an enjoyable, cute comedy suitable for all ages.

“Muppets Most Wanted,” directed by James Bobin, is rated PG for some mild action and is playing at Cinemark Towne Centre in Conway.

Police Beat Issue 6 Fall 2017

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