Like many people my age, I have a soft spot for the Muppets. I clearly remember going to the movies as a child, and "Rainbow Connection" was a song my friends and I couldn't stop singing. Fast forward a few (OK, many) years, and I'm just not as enamored of the new films as I was back then.
In 2011, we were reacquainted with -- and our children introduced to -- the lovable puppets in "The Muppets." That movie capitalized on the nostalgia of adults like myself, but it left us feeling as if there wasn't really a market for the Muppets in today's world. It was a sad message: That some things are best left behind as happy memories. And, though I loved the Muppets in the '80s, I have to wonder if that might not be the case here. Even under the Disney umbrella, how relevant are the Muppets to kids today?
We're getting another chance to find out when "Muppets Most Wanted" opens today. The sequel starts by poking fun at being just a sequel, but then it takes a completely different tone. There is none of the self-pity of the previous film. Instead, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the gang are almost immediately immersed into a worldwide adventure, and the movie feels action-packed.
The official description goes like this: "Disney’s 'Muppets Most Wanted' takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe’s most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid, Dublin and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine—the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog."
I certainly laughed more at this Muppet movie, which stars Ricky Gervais as the Muppets' manager Dominic Badguy, Tina Fey as a Gulag guard and Ty Burrell as the Interpol detective, than its predecessor. There are enough jokes and celebrity cameos to appeal to adults who want to like this film. And who doesn't swoon when Kermit joins Miss Piggy at the altar? Will she finally get Kermie to put a ring on it?
Those at the movie's helm seem to be headed in the right direction. Director James Bobin returns to this sequel Muppets movie after winning a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for the first one. And Bret McKenzie, who won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Man or Muppet,” returns to the Muppets stage as music supervisor.
Still, my 11-year-old son didn't find "Muppets Most Wanted" entertaining. Despite numerous trips through Muppet*Vision 3D at Disney's Hollywood Studios, he just doesn't have the same connection to the characters that I do. And, as such, the format of puppets going on an adventure seemed too childish for him to suspend his disbelief and enjoy the storyline. I found this telling because he usually does prefer Disney Channel movies and Pixar's quality animation over superhero or blow-things-up films.
I do think there is an audience for this new Muppets movie, but I think it may be one of nostalgic adults rather than the children the PG rating allows. Do you agree or disagree? Tell us in the comments.
DISCLAIMER: I viewed "Muppets Most Wanted" at a media screening before its official release. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.
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