Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Plenty of Muppetish laughs

By Mark HadleyWednesday 9 Apr 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

One of the best things about Muppets Most Wanted is its awareness of itself as a franchise. The opening musical sequences doesn’t just break the fourth wall between the film and the audience, it packs it up in a truck and drives it away. The chorus informs us that the muppets are making a sequel because that’s what Hollywood expects, and…

The Muppets Most Wanted reviewed by Mark HAdley“The studio wants more | while they wait for | Tom Hank s to do | Toy Story 4.”

Tongue in cheek it may be, but the producers are also aware that there’s an expectation that puppets who’ve been associated with teaching for decades will also have something helpful for kids to consider. So it’s not surprising when the narrator adds:

Let us continue our heart-warming adventure and maybe learn a heart warming lesson. Perhaps about sharing, or family … or the number three…

So what do the Muppets choose? Well, the plot line steadily guides you to the answer. It happens that Kermit has a doppelganger frog called Constantine who is a deadly, international crime lord. When he escapes from prison (with more bouncing green mayhem than Yoda on steroids) he replaces the Muppet’s leader and instigates a European tour that will put him in the perfect position to steal England’s crown jewels. Ricky Gervais enters the plot at this point as the rather obvious Dominic Badguy – “It’s pronounced badgee – it’s French!” – the promoter who’s actually working for Constantine. Whenever his evil boss makes a slip-up, Dominic is there to make the excuses. Only Walter, the super fan from the last film, is perplexed by how laid-back Kermit has become about their performances:

Walter: “Finally – time to rehearse.”
Dominic: “Rehearse? Let’s celebrate!”
Walter: [Perplexed]
Kermit (Constantine): “Yes – go and do whatever you want.”

There are plenty of Muppetish laughs (a futuristic look at Piggy and Kermit’s children), celebrity gaffs (Usher plays an usher), and comedic songs (though nothing that rises to the level of Am I A Man Or A Muppet), but the script never loses moral compass. Love means being prepared to say the hard stuff. The only reason Constantine can be so happy to see the Muppets do whatever they want is because he’s happy with any outcome that doesn’t get in his way. So if Kermit is the real father figure for the Muppets, Constantine is what you’d call a bad dad. And that’s a lesson for the parents as much as it is for the kids.

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Every day parents face the same decision, whether their child is in a cradle, a car or a college: will I give them what they want or what they need? On many happy occasions those two imperatives align; on many more they don’t. The decision to help a dependent child become a responsible adult regularly requires parents to suffer all manner of tears and tantrums and even the occasional, “I don’t love you anymore!” But the Bible says they are prepared to put their child out of sorts exactly because they do love them. Even the discomfits God visits on His children can be seen in this light:

“We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.”

But discipline is hard and frequently costs the parent, so it’s not surprising many lack God’s commitment. Instead, the world has come up with a new model of ‘responsible parenting’ that allows the child to make all the choices … so mum and dad don’t have to. In the Muppets’ case this leads to a trashed reputation and a ruined theatre; in real life the results can be a lot worse. Muppets Most Wanted might be about an international jewel thief, but in the end what’s really most wanted is a leader who cares.

Rating: PG
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: April 10