Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
2 Frogs 1 Pig Epic Mayhem
Muppets go way back with plenty of the young adult to semi-adult audience, and at the very least are a generally recognizable by name. I'm sure some younger audience members may have been introduced by their parents, possibly their friends, and I'm not even going to wager on the actual audience distribution as far as gender and age as a whole. That being said, it's obviously going to be a family-friendly movie - as I don't think a Muppet movie has ever not been - with at least one number of song and dance in it. Normally these aren't my things, but every now and then I like to diversify my viewing experience, but the real question is whether or not this was something that makes me want to add it to the wanted list, or send it to a Siberian prison and hope I never see it again.
Fresh off the heels of the first Muppet movie (or rather, the most recent previous to this), the Muppets notice a rolling camera that could only mean one thing: a sequel! They are very vocal about this, putting on an entire song and dance number pre-title screen to elaborate on it and a few sequel facts - such as how they are rarely as good as the first, the fact it's technically something akin to number 7 - and overall ends up being pretty tongue in cheek. Within the tune they pitch the idea of "how can we make this better," where a man named Badguy comes in and pitches a world-wide tour. From there, we are introduced to the anti-Kermit, a frog muppet that looks identical to Kermit with the exception of a single mole on his right cheek, named Constantine as he escapes from the Gulag prison in Siberia. Judging from the phone call on screen, we are than shown that Badguy is in fact a bad guy and in cahoots with Constantine.
What's their plot? To steal the crown jewels, obviously. In order to do this, they first need to find items hidden by an old thief who almost succeeded in stealing said jewels, which is going to require a bit of a treasure hunt and a really good cover. Who better to use as a cover than the Muppets as they go on tour, with Constantine taking over the role of Kermit. How to do this? By slapping a fake glued-on mole to Kermits face to make the locals and police think he is Constantine, and painting over his own mole with green paint. With the simple excuse that he's got a cold to shrug off his sudden change in talking mannerisms, their evil plot seems like it may just work.
Meanwhile, Kermit is trying his best to get out of the Gulag, which is met with failure on every front. The gang - unaware that Kermit is even gone - isn't mounting a rescue option, and Kermit finally starts to lull into the fact that he's going to be there for a long time. Making the most of it, he starts turning the prison crew into a musical and dance machine, getting them ready for the annual Gulag review. Back in the free world, the Muppets all are getting rave reviews no matter what they do, and nearby locations are getting robbed of rare treasures. It's not until later that any of the muppets (outside of Animal) catch on to something being amiss, and then it's up to the three of them to go rescue the real Kermit and save the day. The stakes are risen one final time with Constantine decides to marry Miss Piggy as a ploy to get into London tower and steal the jewels, and then blow them all up as his escape plan! Can Kermit be broken out of the Gulag to save the day?
Being a movie where many of the main players are in fact Muppets, I kind of feel that the effects-work is probably more front-line than acting, but it's a bit of a throw up because without some form of acting there isn't much to the movie either. Anyways, the muppets are all well done, and you'd swear they haven't aged a day from back when. You won't be catching as many arm-poles and strings here though, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they did a bit of green screen work with the muppets to help out in some of the scenes. Costumes (for muppets or the normal cast) are all pretty finely put together, some being flashier than others, and mostly fitting with the typical situations a movie would have in those instances. Other effects come off well too, such as the explosions or fireworks.
Actors do a fine job, and they do a fine job with the Muppet voices. You'll recognize them if you've been around the Muppets before, and it certainly feels like their personality are intact from what I can remember of them (it's been a while). The guest celebrity appearances are pretty wide here as well - including Danny Trejo, who you wouldn't normally expect to see in a family movie - and although they don't all have an elaborate amount of screentime or impact to the plot, it's nice to have that feel to it regardless. The ones that do need to interact with the Muppets do a pretty great job, to the extent that most the time you wouldn't think they were acting with a fake little puppet-like character but rather an actual character itself.
The plot is goofy, as I'm without a doubt positive it was supposed to be. That being said, if you look at it without suspension of disbelief you are not gonna have a good time. When Kermit is acting so noticeably different from his usual self, one would expect his 'family' to start noticing pretty easy. That being said, it isn't hard to imagine the believability of people being swayed by "anything they want" being given to them, and it provides the capacity for the movie to continue. So yes, it's a happy-go-lucky plot with a small grade of danger installed to keep the kids enthralled, and the Kermi-clone puts something new into the mix, but you shouldn't go into this goofy family flick expecting some kind of epic plotline to end all other movies.
If you want a show to show your kids, your into the Muppets, or otherwise enjoy your family-friendly goofy flick then you very well could be interested in this. For the rest of us, it's not much to recommend. It has some jokes, but it didn't get me to roll on the floor laughing my rear off. It did offer a nice stress free ride down the family musical lane - but it's unfortunate for me specifically because I generally don't like musicals that much. I won't say the songs aren't well done or catchy or anything of that sort, because it is pretty well handled, but it's another thing that can turn some off to the movie. When it really comes down to it though, Muppet fans should be pleased, those liking the typical happy-themed Disney movies should be pleased, and anyone looking for a relatively laid back family flick without hordes of innuendo's to worry about their kid picking up on should certainly be pleased.