Muppets Most Wanted  (2014)    66/100

Rating :   66/100                                                                     107 Min        U

The sequel to 2011’s ‘The Muppets’ and the 8th theatrical release to feature Jim Henson’s hand puppet creations (the other six for the trivia minded among you are ‘The Muppet Movie’ 79, ‘The Great Muppet Caper’ 81, ‘The Muppets Take Manhattan’ 84, ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ 92, ‘Muppet Treasure Island’ 96 and ‘Muppets From Space’ 99, as well as a number of TV and direct to DVD releases) follows directly on from the previous story, here with the Muppets touring show being used as a vehicle for several high profile robberies after Kermit the frog is replaced by CONSTANTINE, a Russian criminal master mind who happens to look almost identical to poor Kermit, who is ousted from his position at Muppet mission control and forced into the Gulag under the supervision of Tina Fey, who is admittedly sporting quite a sexy Russian accent.

As before, the film is directed by James Bobin and jointly penned by him and Nicholas Stoller, and it once again features a raft of cameo roles from well known actors – some of which are amusing, Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo as singing prisoners in the Gulag for example, and some of which are so brief there was precious little point to them (though this is in keeping with the show). Overall, there is a little less singing and dancing than last time around, but the same feeling of a show on display and its family friendly orientation is very much at the forefront here again, it’s just a little too safe and a little too bland, with large sections that don’t deliver much, such as the two detectives, one Muppet and one human, following the trail of thefts which just drags on. Constantine is probably the film’s strongest element, an amusing character with an accent that is a lot of fun to try and mimic, but he’s not used to full potential and he’s paired up with Ricky Gervais who seems to almost be trying to atone for previous sins, as if he’s been cuckolded by Tina Fey’s superior run at the Golden Globes and feels the need to be the but of a few sparse jokes rather than attempt to really make any.

Essentially the film is pleasant, but completely lacking any sting. ‘Muppets Tonight’ had the capacity to absolutely hit the nail on the head from time to time – I remember sitting in a friend’s living room with his entire family, none of whom I had ever met before, whilst he finished off masturbating or whatever he was doing, and everyone was watching the show in silence when the Baywatch sketch came on, featuring two fairly hopeless pigs as lifeguards who discover a mysterious object lying on the beach and decide to play volleyball with it, thoroughly enjoying themselves, unfortunately this object is very obviously shown to be a land mine which promptly blows up and kills everyone on the beach. This had me in stitches laughing. None of the others in the room, however, found it amusing which, heightened by the awkwardness of meeting someone’s family for the first time, made it EVEN FUNNIER. Shortly after I calmed down and they started desperately talking about something that was so completely unrelated that I couldn’t help but burst out laughing again, in fact, I think I was actually crying it was so funny whilst they all ignored me as the growing gibbering elephant in the corner of the room until my friend arrived to rescue me. I mean, that’s funny right?   {This also reminds me of the time another friend told me he was so obsessed with a mortal female that he’d started to see her everywhere, including presenting the weather on TV and reading the news. I laughed at him FOR FOUR HOURS}

Neither of these two recent films feature any kind of real hilarity, and the Muppets need that, they need the sort of devilish risqué humour that works so well because they are puppets and are ostensibly aimed at a younger audience. Hopefully the next one will focus more on comedy than fluff and padding – we want brazenly impish revelry, not plodding run of the mill storytelling.

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