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Review: Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Following the relaunch of the Jim Henson-created brand The Muppets, in the original titleda solid commercial and critical reaction has lead to a sequel.

Following the relaunch of the Jim Henson-created brand The Muppets, in the original titled The Muppets a solid commercial and critical reaction has lead to a sequel Muppets Most Wanted.

In a Gulag in Russia, the 'World's Most Dangerous Frog' Constantine hatches a daring escape. With help of his second in command, Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) he plots to take the place of Kermit the Frog and run a tour for the Muppets through Europe as a ruse to steal valuable items from some of the world's most famous museums. Oblivious to the switch, the Muppets go along with the tour, while a combination of Sam Eagle from the FBI and Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) from Interpol join forces to try and solve the mystery.

As one of the meta song lyrics suggests at the beginning, Muppets Most Wanted does not live up to the original. The actual plot is a loose parody of any number of EuroTrip-centric sequels from the past with a healthy does of Face/Off of all things, but like any Muppet caper it's packed with some good slapstick performances, decent songs, although nothing rivaling Muppet or a Man and more cameos than you can shake a stick at, including Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta, Zach Galifianakis, Christoph Waltz, Stanley Tucci, Til Schweiger, Frank Langella and Tom Hiddleston. Unfortunately after a while all of these elements start to drag, which eventually cause a real problem.

Rather than the tight meta-script and performance of Jason Segel in the original film, we are treated to endless blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearances from celebrities as diverse as Lady Gaga and Tom Hiddleston and after a while it feels a little bit like a cheap way for celebrities to increase their self-worth rather than a loving homage to the great Muppet adventures of the past.

The lead non-Muppet characters Gervais, Burrell and Fey are all game for a laugh, but can't match the wonderful chemistry of Jason Segel and Amy Adams. In terms of Muppet performances, it is the duel role of Constantine and Kermit that steals the show. The birthmark sporting master criminal from a Gulag in Russia is a hilarious conceit and his casual dismissal of Miss Piggy until he realizes her importance to his ruse make for some of the best comedy.

However with the endless name-dropping, location-dropping and tiring jokes that become less and less funny as the film progresses, Muppets Most Wanted goes some way to reminding the audience why the franchise was canned years earlier. It's lazy, self-indulgent and even worse than that it seems aware that it is these things and still does nothing to redress the balance.