MuppetsMostWantedcoverGrade: B
Entire family: Yes

2014, 107 and 124 min., Color
Disney
Rated PG for some mild action
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Bonus features: B-
Trailer

With The Muppets (2011), Disney breathed new life into a near-dead franchise by infusing it with self-reflexive jokes and getting back to the clever writing, memorable songs, and manic energy that made Jim Henson’s marionette-puppets a hit in the first place.

Though Muppets Most Wanted follows a more familiar screenplay formula, the gags are still there, the trio of humans—Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Ty Burrell—seems brilliantly cast, and the songs, though they don’t stick in your head, are still engaging. Our entire family thought this 2014 sequel was funny and entertaining, and we’re getting close to the point where we’ll no longer have children under the age of 13. Don’t be put off by the PG rating. With apologies to Animal, it’s a pretty tame film, and families with young children should find this just as rewarding for a family movie night.  

A future trivia question might ask what Ricky Gervais and Robert Wagner have in common. The answer? They both played Number 2 in a movie, Wagner in the Austin Powers spy spoofs, and Gervais as the go-to-guy for the Number 1 criminal in the world, a Kermit look-alike with a thick Russian accent named Constantine.

MuppetsMostWantedscreenThe master plan calls for Gervais to goad the Muppets out of their comfortable obscurity and serve as their agent and co-director with Kermit to get them onto world stages, but with Kermit replaced by Constantine so the two criminals can move throughout Europe without suspicion. Their sinister goal is to steal priceless art and jewels. Meanwhile, Kermit is set up, captured by police and sent to a gulag run by Fey, who flat-out nails her performance. While Gervais seems perfect in his role, the most you can say about his singing is that he’s better than Russell Crowe. But Fey is superb. She manages to belt out a song on key and with great tonal quality, all while maintaining her thick, fake Russian accent.

That leaves Modern Family funnyman Ty Burrell, who plays an Interpol agent in competition with CIA bird Sam Eagle. Though Burrell is always fun to watch, their good cop-good cop routine didn’t have the same crackle of energy as the other plot segments. Come to think of it, the writers could have given Statler and Waldorf a few more zingers this sequel too—then again, Disney provides three ways of watching Muppets Most Wanted: the theatrical version, an extended edition, and a Statler & Waldorf version.

Will Constantine get away with his nefarious scheme? Will Kermit escape in time to survive the day? Will Constantine manage to survive Miss Piggy? Will there be another sequel? Everyone who watches knows the answer to those questions, but the fun is in the details, and like the Muppet movies of old there are plenty of sight gags and character interactions that give each scene life. And you never know which of the Muppets will get the spotlight, or when a celeb will pop up in a cameo (as Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Salma Hayek, Tom Hiddleston, Stanley Tucci, James McAvoy, Zach Galifianakis, Céline Dion, Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, and Hugh Bonneville do).

Because of that, Muppets Most Wanted should be one of those films your family watches over and over. If you liked The Muppets, you’ll like this sequel, even though it’s just a notch below in overall quality. It’s funny, it’s musically energetic, and it’s populated with humans and Muppets who go with the flow . . . and improv, or the feeling that we’re watching improvisation, is what ultimately makes this franchise tick.

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