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Archive for April 10, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted

Movie banner   untitledTo be fair, they warned me.

It’s right there in the first song – “We’re doing a sequel! That’s what we do in Hollywood and everybody knows the sequel’s never quite as good”

I think Disney is having a problem balancing callbacks (fanservice) with trying to be fresh. In the last film it was all about being new, with a hint of nostalgia, this time around they really crank up the homages – perhaps too much so. They acknowledge it though, pointing out in one line that the last film spent an inordinate amount of time on the new Muppet Walter, perhaps at the expense of other beloved characters (seriously, that’s a line Rizzo delivers). At least Rizzo and PePe both have a line in this one.

It’s not badly done.  The duplicate frog has been done before on TV, though I don’t remember it in film. It may be a little too goofy of a concept for a film, probably imagesCAMUTUN9would have worked better as a direct to DVD story. I’m amused though, from now until the end of time, Every time John Constantine is introduced in a Hellblazer story I’m not going to be able to resist thinking “the most dangerous frog”?

The sequences with Kermit trapped in the Siberian prison feel tacked on, like they didn’t know what to do with him -a shame because its some of the best stuff in the film…but more on that in a moment.

I think my biggest problem in this film is Ricky Gervais . I know it’s kind of his schtick, but really it feels like he just doesn’t want to be here. He kind of sleepwalks through the entire thing. Everyone else in this movie is obviously having the time of their life. All you have to do is look at Tina Fey (who I normally despise) to see how imagesCAL7F6GJmuch they want to be there, and it’s a huge contrast against Gervais’ performance.

Fey’s role is mostly confined to the prison camp…though she still manages to have a chic look with those gorgeous boots and the soft fur and big buttons on her coat. She’s vamping it and really makes it work. I’m not sure what Ray Liotta is doing here. Cashing a check I suppose. He’s kind of wasted in the role. Danny Trejo on the other hand….

If you’d asked me a year ago I’d have said it was ridiculous to have Trejo in this film. He doesn’t belong here. But after meeting the guy, it’s a different story. He fits here. He really does. You may actually be seeing more of the real Danny Trejo here than IMG_0138in any other role he’s ever had.

The world needs more of Danny Trejo singing Broadway. It really does.

The main characters are used really well this time around. Animal (traditionally a tangential though popular character) has some good moments and Sam Eagle has one of his best characterizations ever. The idea of making him a CIA agent just ….fits. It plays perfectly into his character and really lets him show his intellect without it being the butt of a joke.

Speaking of the agents, Jean Pierre Napoleon as the French Interpol agent is a revelation. I mean it. He is absolutely brilliant. Why was Steve Martian in the last imagesPink Panther movie when THIS guy is around? Seriously, it was like watching Clouseau interact with the Muppets. Someone needs to give him a shot at that role. He was another of the best things in the film.

For the most part, I’ve been supportive of Disney’s handling of the Muppets. Despite my initial reservations, it’s been a good home for them. The slick Disneyfied packaging never bothered me. I like Muppets in OZ (Made sure to see it when it was broadcast on  TV, recorded it, then bought the DVD anyhow). A Very Muppet Christmas is one of my favorite Muppet movies ever, defiantly my favorite of ALL the Christmas ones. I kind of wish they would jettison Walter, but the way they brought the Muppets back to the big screen was very wise.

This isn’t a bad entry (It’s better than Muppet Christmas Carol) but it’s far from the best. Better songs would have helped…especially after the musical triumph of Frozen. There’s a couple that are clever like the opening “We’re Doing A Sequel” and the closing “Together Again, Again) but those are more interesting because they are homages to previous films and probably wouldn’t stand on their own any better than any of the others which are all forgettable. A shame, there were some stand outs in the last film like “Me Party” and I wonder why we didn’t see that kind of thing here. Still, I’m grateful that I can take my kids to see a new Muppet movie over at Amherst Cinema and you can bet we’ll be back for the next one!