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After their somewhat triumphant return in 2011′s The Muppets, the titular gang is back for the sequel. And if the first new film was a little too interested in nostalgically making the audience like the characters again, the new film lets them have an adventure. And it’s mostly fun, if a little lumpy and maybe a smidge too long.

The Players:

Plot:

Starting moments after the end of the last film, the gang want to start practicing their act again. That’s when Dominic Badguy (Gervais) suggests they go on a tour of Europe to sharpen their tools. Kermit is wary of this, though agrees to go. But Kermit was right as Dominic’s plan is to swap out Kermit with the number one criminal in the world, Constantine, who looks exactly like Kermit. His plan works, and so Kermit is shipped off to a Siberian prison where Nadya (Fey) is the warden. Only a handful of muppets recognize the change, and it’s up to them to save the day, while Sam Eagle and Jean Pierre Napoleon (Burrell) are in pursuit of Constantine and Badguy, and Constantine is happy to romance Piggy and possibly even marry her.

The Good:

  • The Music: With songs by Oscar winner Bret McKenzie, Muppets Most Wanted starts off on a high note with the characters making fun of sequels, and throwing in all sort of weird jokes (many at their expense). There are a number of great productions, especially when Kermit is stuck in prison, and has to coach convicts on the big show, and Constantine’s big number where he romances Miss Piggy.
  • Fun: If the first film had a weakness it’s that plot was secondary to getting us to fall in love with the Muppets again. Here there is a story, and it’s slightly more engaging for that. Though not every joke is laugh out loud (like seeing Christoph Waltz do a waltz with Sweetums), the film had me smiling throughout.
  • Tina Fey, the Prison sequence: There are a number of performers in this part of the movie that audiences might not know are in the film, so I don’t want to spoil anything, but this part of the movie offers the biggest laughs, with a great use of A Chorus Line, and some rough and tumble performers who get stuck doing musical theater. And though Fey has suggested she doesn’t have great pipes, she nails her big musical number, and is consistently funny.

The So So:

  • Ricky Gervais: Though I haven’t tired of the funnyman, he doesn’t have a lot of great moments in the film, other than a joke or two at his expense (my favorite moment involved him having an obvious double for a sequence). The previous movies have had a lot of great comedian cameos, but Gervais doesn’t get a great scene or moment. He mostly seems to be playing the character and keeping his sense of humor in check.
  • Which Muppets Get the Focus?: As to be expected, Kermit and Miss Piggy get the most attention, but the supporting players get scattered gags. Gonzo doesn’t get all that much to do, neither do many of the supporting players. And where the first film made a point of giving characters spotlight scenes (and there’s some of that here), you wish some of the time devoted to humans went to Muppets instead. Sam Eagle, though, does get a chance to shine, and that’s great, but Rolf and many more are mostly backgrounded.

The Bad:

  • Too Long: The first film tried to keep it close to a hundred minutes, and you can feel that this should have been a little tighter, especially as a kids film with a short film attached to the front.

Overall:

Muppets Most Wanted has enough good moments and musical numbers to make for a pleasing watch. These characters are likely better served by television, and it would be good to get them back on it, but this is a fun endeavor that never quite achieves greatness, but is consistently entertaining.

Rating:

7/10

Muppets Most Wanted is in theaters March 21.

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Trailer: