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Movie Breakdown: Muppets Most Wanted (Noah)

March 21, 2014

Film

People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing lead us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

I wasn’t the only one who gave the first of the new Nicholas Stoller-involved Muppet films a positive review. It was funny and light and the music was good, so I’m actually relatively excited for a second go-around. That said, the deep dark niggle of sequel blues does rest in my gut …

The Reality:

Wow, this is not a great film. Admittedly, The Muppets aren’t the easiest franchise to play around with. You basically have a mildly adult, heavily meta version of Sesame Street. You’re playing in the sandbox of a bunch of felt toys so you want the kiddies to be able to watch it, but if you follow in the true tradition of the Muppets and their vaguely ground-breaking television series, you also want it to be at least reasonably palatable for adults. Muppets Most Wanted never really figures out which side of the line it wants to sit on. It has the requisite musical numbers (the producers of the film should thank their lucky stars that Bret McKenzie was on-board to make them the highlight of the film), a ton of cameos (most utterly worthless, and/or so fast that you don’t even register the appearance) and a hacked together story about a world tour, a criminal mastermind who looks exactly like Kermit and a Russian Gulag. To be frank, the movie doesn’t work. It bobs along at a snail pace as the Muppets, sans Kermit for almost the entire running time run wild (if the half-assed shenanigans in the film can be thought of as “wild”) in Europe. Ricky Gervais, as Dominic Badguy, plays a watered down version of his usual smarmy self and Tina Fey (another solid part of the film) plays a sexually frustrated Russian guard in love with Kermit. Sure, the film has a little bit of meta-commentary and sure it has a little bit of the near-adult humor of film’s past, but it also has abysmal slapstick, some truly bad dialogue, and meandering plotline that seems tailor made for snot-nosed children to sort of understand. The film never clicks, it just slides along resting on the laurels of its franchise. I’m not a huge Muppets fan, but films like this certainly aren’t going to push me in that direction.

The Lesson:

My childhood means nothing to the awe-inspiring suck of the sequel.

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