MUPPETS MOST WANTED (James Bobin). 108 minutes. Opens Friday (March 21). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Well, they deal with it in the opening number. Muppets Most Wanted is a sequel, and a sequel is never as good as the original. And in this case, the original wasn't the original either; 2011's The Muppets was more of a getting-the-band-back-together kind of thing.
If The Muppets relaunched Jim Henson's beloved felt creations as a big-screen property - and let co-writer/star Jason Segel share his love for The Muppet Movie and the original Muppet Show - then this one uses The Great Muppet Caper as its template, plunging the Muppets into a world of international intrigue and mistaken identity.
The success of the last movie having put the Muppets back on the map, the gang hire new manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais, owning it) to embark on a European tour. The tour's planned just in time for Constantine, the world's most dangerous frog, to impersonate Kermit and use the troupe as cover for a series of museum heists while Kermit, mistaken for Constantine, is sent to a Russian gulag run by Tina Fey.
Muppets Most Wanted is less a movie than an excuse for a series of Muppet Show sketches and celebrity cameos, and it lacks the heart Segel brought to the previous picture. (It also lacks Segel himself, though his character's Muppet brother Walter is still around.)
Returning director James Bobin compensates with a faster pace and more anarchic Muppety energy. It makes for a pretty enjoyable movie, just not as much fun as the last one.