Complete A-Z list

Muppets Most Wanted


Stars: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, Peter Linz, Tony Bennett, Hugh Bonneville, William Brand, Andres Cantor, Jemaine Clement, Kenneth Collard, Sean Combs, Rob Corddry, Mackenzie Crook, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Groban, Salma Hayek, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hollander, Toby Jones, Frank Langella, Ray Liotta, Ross Lynch, James McAvoy, Aleksandar Mikic, Chloe Grace Moretz, Fleur Poad, Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl, Usher Raymond, Miranda Richardson, Saoirse Ronan, Til Schweiger, Russell Tovey, Danny Trejo, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz

Director: James Bobin

The Muppets are luckier than mere mortal movie stars.

They don’t appear to age. Unfortunately human actors do as anyone who sees Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier can testify.

And so, three years after their last big screen outing, Kermit and Company are back in cinemas, kicking off with a Busby Berkeley-influenced dance number involving the fabric actors and humans giving their all to, appropriately, “We’re doing a sequel”.

After which the story, co-written with Nicholas Stoller by the director, kicks in as the Muppets, conned by Ricky Gervais into appointing him their new manager, head for a European tour, starting in the “World Capital of Comedy” – Berlin.

But what the Muppets don’t know is that their theatrical tour is nothing more than a cover for heists carried out by Constantine and his gang – and Constantine is a Russian Kermit lookalike (apart from the mole, which he disguises) who has escaped from a Gulag in Darkest Russia. Which is where the luckless genuine Kermit ends up among the battiest bunch of jailed thugs I’ve seen.

And they become even battier after Kermit introduces them to Show Business when he is asked to stage the annual prison musical. Forget the mild am-dram frolics of prisoner-of-war films like The Colditz Story – until you’ve seen such legendary song-and-dance men as Danny Trejo and Ray Liotta tripping the light fantastic, you shouldn’t consider yourself a musical movie completist.

Naturally, all ends happily.

The real Kermit breaks out, the false Kermit is revealed and returned to Russia and Gervais and his gang are prevented from stealing the Crown Jewels – although, to be fair, the plot isn’t that important.

It’s the zany comedy that strikes the right chord, rather than the storyline. And there are plenty of good gags, put over with practiced vigour by the Muppets who are entertainingly aided and abetted by a ripe roster of guest stars, among them Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Tom Hiddleston, Celine Dion, Trejo, Chloe Grace Moretz, Salma Hayek, Christoph Waltz, Tom Hollander and Frank Langella, who all cheerfully enter into the lunatic proceedings.

Tina Fey is a delight as the warden of the Russian Gulag with (unfulfilled) hots for Kermit. Ty Burrell’s coarse take on Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau as an Interpol agent on the trail of Gervais and the gang is amusing

Muppets Most Wanted is a welcome sequel that should ensure kids and adults alike enjoy the deliberately corny humour, silly songs and the happily familiar puppets at their most daffily endearing.

There’s just one fly (a bearded one) in the pleasing ointment and that’s Gervais whose two basic expressions (one showing his teeth, one covering them) reduce the entertainment value of his scenes. It’s ironic that, in a film starring the iconic porker Miss Piggy, it's Gervais who serves up the ham.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour by deluxe.
112 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 Mar 2014