Reviewed by Samantha Ho
Rated G. Starring Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Kermit the Frog. Directed by James Bobin.
How many sequels does it take for a movie series to grow stale?
Muppets Most Wanted is the seventh sequel of the original Muppet Movie (1979). It seems like we can’t ever get sick of the fur-covered Muppets!
Muppets Most Wanted revolves around the crew looking for their next big ‘gig’. As a result, they consult a conniving Dominic Badguy (Gervais) to co-ordinate their next world tour. What they don’t realise is that Badguy is conspiring with the “world’s number one criminal”, Constantine, to incriminate them in stealing the beloved Crown Jewels!
The highlight of the shows revolves around the fact the criminal Constantine looks exactly like Kermit the Frog, except with an obvious brown mole. In a case of mistaken identity, Kermit is taken away Russian Soviet guard, Nadya (Fey) to a Gulag prison, where Constantine originally escaped from.
Whilst Kermit is desperate to get back to the Muppet family, they are overly consumed with gaining fame on the world tour. They stop by various major world cities to perform their humorously unappealing acts that cause havoc within the group. Meanwhile, they are totally oblivious to the scheming of Badguy and Constantine!
I found the integration of people/puppets exciting. Musically, the soundtrack was compelling and I had many laughs with it (although I don’t know if the kids would’ve picked it up so quickly!). The human cast wonderfully embraced the script. Add in the scattered appearances of Lady Gaga, Usher and Celine Dion, and Muppets Most Wanted has a surprising turn in every corner! It’s mostly clean humour, which is a plus if you’d like to bring young kids along to watch it over the coming holiday season.
My overall experience watching Muppets Most Wanted was left wanting, however. Since the quality of animated films has been more than outstanding in recent years, Muppets Most Wanted could have achieved a lot more. Especially with the delivery of a ‘message’ that would be easily communicable to young kids. Yet, I think there was one clear message.
The producers of this sequel had a relatively pleasant field day in comparing the ‘good’ frog (Kermit) with ‘bad’ frog (Constantine).
What jumped out most at me was the fact that Constantine kept trying to win over the rest of the Muppets to his plans by saying, “I can give you what you want.” Constantine manages to win over Miss Piggy by offering her affection; with the others, it is the freedom to choose whatever they want to perform on stage, regardless of how distasteful it might be.
Evil often disguises itself as good by appealing to our desires, rather than a principle. The Muppets weren’t able to perceive it; it’s Fozzie Bear who accidentally discovers that Constantine looks exactly like Kermit, without the mole (who would’ve guessed?).
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)
What James writes here is what happens with the Muppets. As cute and fuzzy as they are, they still are lured by their own desires for fame and fortune. Who knows what would have happened if not for Walter, Fozzie Bear and Animal uncovering the truth?
Walter: There’s only one guy in this world who can save us! There’s only one frog who can restore order, bring justice, and set things right!
Fozzie Bear: You are talking about Kermit, right?
Kermit’s seen as the one leader who can unite everyone back again, after the mess that the Muppet crew are making on their tour. The way the Muppets view Kermit is like a reflection of the reality found in Jesus and what he has done as Walter proclaimed – to “restore order, bring justice, and set things right!”
As humans, though we often blindly follow the patterns of this world, God had sent the saviour Jesus to set us free from our desire for sin (Eph 2:1-8). In our real world, he is the one who can do this – because he is God!
The Muppets come to realise that they need the whole team united under Kermit to function well as a family. It’s a heart-warming theme to the story, and I think one that will keep the Muppet crew busy for another few sequels – hopefully, with an even more compelling plot and guest appearances!
I’ll give it three stars out of five.
Muppets Most Wanted will be released in Australian cinemas tomorrow, Thursday 10th April. It is currently already screening in cinemas throughout the US and the UK.