The Muppets open “Muppets Most Wanted” with the glorious musical number “We’re doing a sequel.”
“We’re doing a sequel, that’s what we do in Hollywood, and everybody knows that it’s never quite as good!”
“Au contraire,” as Dominic Badguy (“It’s pronounced Bad-gee, it’s French”) would say. The fuzz on these Muppets hasn’t frayed a bit as they head into their next adventure, packed with song and dance, overflowing with ridiculous cameos and with a plot that would have served the Three Stooges well. And probably did.
Dominic, played with leering relish by Ricky Gervais, is posing as a talent agent when he talks the Muppet gang into hiring him and going on a “world tour” in Europe so he can help his evil boss steal the crown jewels of Britain.
Dominic is a wonder, booking them into gorgeous theaters in front of ecstatic sold-out audiences, which is unhappy news for the Muppets’ longtime leader, Kermit, who is feeling unneeded and, worse, unwanted.
Dominic gives him a pep talk.
“Don’t take it personally,” he tells Kermit. “They still love you. They just prefer me now.”
And then he suggests Kermit take a nice walk in the fog along a deserted canal in the former East Berlin.
No one notices later when Kermit returns with a heavy accent and virtually no interest in Muppetry of any kind. But it is not Kermit! It is Constantine, a gangly green doppelganger and the Most Dangerous Frog in the World!
Constantine made the switch at the canal, and had the real Kermit arrested and sent back to the Russian Gulag, where the officer in charge, Tina Fey, rides herd on a mangy bunch of inmates that includes Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo.
From Berlin, where Christoph Waltz shows up for a waltz, to Spain (Hello, Salma Hayek!) and then Ireland, where “Downton Abbey’s” Hugh Bonneville drops in, the oblivious band of felt and fur puts on some of the worst shows ever while Kermit tries every cinematic means possible to escape from his prison.
Meanwhile, Interpol is hot on the trail, in the form of Ty Burrell with a “rideekoolous” accent, gigantic badge and teeny tiny European car.
Will Dominic, an unhappy No. 2, ever get to be No. 1? Will Miss Piggy become bacon? Will Kermit escape?
And how did they ever get so many stars to appear in one movie?
The answers to those questions – at least most of them – are revealed in delightful style as “Muppets Most Wanted” leaves you wanting more. It may be more of the same old song and dance from Kermit and Company, but we really wouldn’t want it any other way.
muppets most wanted
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, the Muppets
Director: James Bobin
Running time: 112 minutes
Rating: PG for mild threatening action.
The Lowdown: Kermit’s criminal look-alike and his No. 2, a henchman posing as a talent agent, use the Muppets to try to steal the British crown jewels.