Muppets Most Wanted picks up immediately following the events of the The Muppets as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Great Gonzo, Animal and the entire Muppet gang head out on a world tour. But mayhem follows, as the Muppets find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine, the World's Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog. Soon Kermit is behind bars at the mercy of prison warden Nadya (Tina Fey), and the World's Number One Criminal, Constantine -- a dead ringer for Kermit -- has taken his place.
I'm a sucker for the Muppets, let's get that out of the way right up front. Franchises aren't supposed to translate this well from generation to generation, but with their special brand of humor and variety shows, the Muppets have stayed relevant since the late-great Jim Henson introduced us to them in the mid-'50s. Since then, the Muppets have touched each generation that's come along. Universally loved by audiences and celebrities, the Muppets have an uncanny ability to bring a childlike grin to even the most heartless celebrity cameo villain out there.
'Muppets Most Wanted' is the sequel to the wildly popular 'The Muppets.' Jason Segel isn't attached to this one, though the writing and directing core of Nicholas Stoller and James Bobin are still around. Bret McKenzie also returns for the sequel as music supervisor, giving 'Muppets Most Wanted' that decidedly Flight of the Conchords charm that 'The Muppets' thrived on.
Like every Muppet movie, 'Muppets Most Wanted' is a hilarious balance of meta commentary and ultra-meta commentary. The entire first musical number is a free-association brainstorming session contemplating what this new movie should be about. We're informed that sequels aren't ever as good as the first, and that this is actually the seventh sequel since the opening film. So really, who's keeping track anymore...right?
Being a Muppet movie, it settles on the most cliched plotline it can think of because that's where they excel. It isn't about the creativity of the plot. It's always been about how much the Muppets can poke fun at the movie-making business. Here they have a grand old time taking on the mistaken identity plot by replacing Kermit (voiced by Steve Whitmire) with escaped convict Constantine (voiced by Matt Vogel)--the most dangerous frog in the world. He looks exactly like Kermit, except for a distinguishing mole on his face. With the help of Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who infiltrates the Muppets posing as a tour manager – "Dominic Bad Guy?" "Bad-gee. It's French." – manages to switch out Kermit for Constantine with a dastardly mole-switching plan.
Constantine really is the star of the show here. Vogel's voice work is masterful. Usually when a movie equates funny sounding accents with comedy, the result is dire (see: 'Despicable Me 2'). Though, "Muppets Most Wanted" is a delightful exception to that rule. Witnessing Constantine's tough transformation from hardened Russian amphibian to cuddly show runner is downright hilarious. How Vogel is able to meld Constantine's ridiculous accent with Kermit's equally ridiculous, but iconic, voice is really something to behold.
The cameos are just as fun. Celebrities pop up for the most peculiar one-liners and then disappear without a trace. Where else will you see Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, and Jemaine Clement dancing in a chorus line, singing showtunes as prisoners of a Russian gulag? Nowhere -- except a Muppet movie.
Thankfully, most of the great songs in the movie are given to Constantine. The strange mish-mash of Kermit's voice with a Russian frog accent makes his musical numbers all the more hilarious. Throw in Bret McKenzie's adept ability at creating catchy comedic pop songs and there are a few numbers that keep the laughs coming right up until the end. Let's be clear, none of the songs measure up to the perfection that was "Man or a Muppet" from 'The Muppets,' but some of them come close. And for a sequel that we were told in the opening number wouldn't be as good as the movie that came before, what else more can we really ask for?
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The 'Muppets Most Wanted: The Unnecessarily Extended Edition' comes in a two-disc set. We get a 50GB Blu-ray, and a DVD copy of the disc. A Disney Movie Rewards code is included which is also the code that governs the download of your Digital Copy. Inside are a couple standard Disney advertising pamphlets. Outside is a generic slipcover. This is a region free release.
Well, it's every bit as enthralling as one might expect after watching 'The Muppets.' Disney didn't miss a beat with this 1080p presentation. The brilliantly detailed video looks identical to the demo-quality which was owned by 'The Muppets.'
Fine detail of felt, feathers, and fabric is obvious throughout. From the clumpy texture of Fozzy's fur to the odd spongy consistency of Gonzo's nose, every Muppet is treated to the highest amount of detail one would expect from an HD release.
Colors are wonderfully vivid. The green of Kermit's iconic look, the pink of Miss Piggy's girlish figure, and the blue everything of Sam Eagle – it all looks immaculate. Clarity is spot on. No complaints at all with any sort of banding, aliasing, or crushing. Black areas work nicely. Definition is consistent and clean. Simply another stellar release from the folks at Disney.
The audio, however, has seen a tad bit of a downgrade in quality. 'The Muppets' was brought to Blu-ray with a full 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. 'Muppets Most Wanted,' however, gives us a 7.1 DTS-HD High Resolution mix. Now some may think it's splitting hairs arguing between the quality of the two, but if you're used to the strong, flawless presentation of 'The Muppets', the mix for this release might leave you wanting.
Right off, you'll notice that the sound just isn't as consistently solid as it was in 'The Muppets'. Dialogue is a tad softer. Rear channels are a slightly more lackadaisical. The punchiness of the soundtrack sags in a few places. That's not to say that 'Muppets Most Wanted's 7.1 mix is any slouch. It still delivers memorable sound, but it isn't the demo-worthy material provided by 'The Muppets.'
'Muppets Most Wanted' might be a little too long. It might drag a bit in the middle. A little light on the jokes here and there. Yet, it still manages to continue on with the time-honored Muppet tradition of slapping together a half-cocked premise, original songs, and sight gags that only the Muppets can get away with. It's funny, for the most part. There are genuine laughs to be had. Is it as good as 'The Muppets'? No. Does it fill the "not as good as the movie before it" sequel? You bet. With stellar video and solid – but marginally downgraded audio – 'Muppets Most Wanted' comes recommended.