Review of Muppets Most Wanted, Directed by James Bobin
Muppets Most Wanted starts off where the The Muppets (2011) ended–having just finished their reunion show to great fanfare, they now don’t know what to do with themselves. That is, until Dominic Badguy (in French, the last name means “good man”) convinces them to go on a world tour (i.e., Europe) to reap the rewards of their new stardom. Kermit is skeptical and would rather they stay put for a little while, seeing that the Muppets had just recently been reunited, but bowing to peer pressure, they go on the road.
On the other side of the world, in the wintery hinterlands of Mother Russia, Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog, escapes! Making fun of Russia, or rather, Soviet Russia, plays a significant role in Muppets Most Wanted, which is quite a coincidence given the current state of international politics surrounding Crimea. Constantine looks almost identical to Kermit, except for a black mole on the right side of his green face. You guessed it: Constantine steals Kermit’s identity and Kermit is sent to the Siberian gulag that Constantine escaped from.
The Muppets’ world tour is off to a good start under Kermit’s directorial prowess. Different Muppets have their own show additions they’d like to make. Gonzo wants to do an in-door running of the bulls. Miss Piggy wants to do several Celine Dion solos. But Kermit tells them the hard truth that their acts wouldn’t do well in the show. Enter Constantine. After gluing a black mole onto Kermit’s face and covering his own mole with a little green paint, Constantine is the new Kermit, though with a very heavy Russian accent. The plan? To book venues next to buildings housing clues and keys to stealing the Crown Jewels of England.
As the tour continues, the shows get increasingly worse. Konstantine’s constant refrain comes from the most catchy song in the film’s musical repertoire, “I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu),” which he sings to Miss Piggy to win her heart. In the same way, Constantine tells the Muppets that they can do what they want. The Muppets are free to add acts they’ve been dying to add to the show–including Animal’s several-hours-long drum solo. But what the Muppets really needed was not to be given what they want.
The lesson is simple, but quite an important one that not only children, but adults, need to be reminded of. We shouldn’t assume that what we want is always the best for us. A fact true to experience, but often disregarded in the moment. In the end, the Muppets realize not only that Constantine is the world’s most dangerous frog, not their old pal Kermit the Frog, but that Constantine’s passivity in giving them what they want has ruined their show. Muppets Most Wanted thereby becomes an opportunity to teach children about why parents discipline them and have to say no. It can also lead to conversations about how sin lies about what’s best for us, but always fails to deliver, and how Christ sanctifies us by progressively changing our desires.
Add to this important lesson a few decent songs (that fail to match the same caliber as The Muppets but are still entertaining), a slew of famous people–Tony Bennet, Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Usher, Tina Fey (head of the Siberian gulag with a hilarious Russian accent), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), and Ricky Gervais–and well-timed jokes, and you’ve got an all-around good film.
Muppets Most Wanted returns the charm of the Muppets back to the screen, delighting both kids and adults alike. There are definitely moments when a joke goes over the head of children–behind me in the theater a girl quizzically asked her father why everyone was laughing. Nonetheless, I recommend the film to families looking for a fun film that will engage both parents and children, or, singles just looking for a Friday night flick.