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Muppets Most Wanted (Blu-ray Review)

8 Aug, 2014 By: John Latchem

Street 8/12/14
Box Office $51.18 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated 'PG' for some mild action.
Stars Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey.

One of the charms of 2011's The Muppets was the way it revived the big-screen adventures of the lovable characters with a heavy dose of nostalgia. That film, built around the idea of reuniting the Muppets for a revival of the classic "Muppet Show," was almost as much about Muppet fandom as it was the characters themselves.

This sequel picks up directly where the previous film left off, with the Muppets reunited but unsure of what to do next. Then Ricky Gervais shows up and suggests they go on a world tour, which sets the plot into motion.

The film makes no attempt to hide the fact that Gervais is playing a villain, naming his character Dominic Badguy and making it perfectly clear he's in league with the film's other antagonist, a Russian Kermit lookalike named Constantine who escapes from a Siberian gulag. Their plan is to swap out Constantine for Kermit and then schedule a series of Muppet shows at a variety of European venues next to museums and banks they can rob.

As much as the previous film reveled in tongue-in-cheek humor, this one bathes in it even more. Even in the first musical number, with the Muppets singing about doing a sequel as if it's a new concept for these characters, someone points out that this is their eighth film. The Muppets then manage to take a train from Los Angeles to Germany, and solve a key dilemma by referring to the previous film's plot. But the most subversive gag may be how Kermit has been replaced even though Constantine makes no attempt to hide his accent, which may be a sly reference to the different voice actors who have played Kermit since the 1990 death of Jim Henson.

Meanwhile, the real Kermit ends up in the aforementioned gulag, where he agrees to help a security guard played by Tina Fey put on a musical revue by the other prisoners (constituting a bevy of the film's requisite celebrity cameos). There's also a good subplot involving Sam the Eagle as a CIA agent working with a lazy French detective played by Ty Burrell to investigate the robberies.

It all adds up to a lot of fun. Nods to the fourth wall aside, Muppets Most Wanted actually plays more like a traditional Muppet movie, focusing a lot less on the human characters whose subplots were almost a distraction in the last movie.

The version Muppets fans are going to want is the extended cut on the Blu-ray, which adds in 12 minutes of some pretty funny gags without feeling superfluous. The Blu-ray also includes a hilarious "Statler & Waldorf" cut, as edited by the two cantankerous old men who heckle the proceedings from the balcony. Given how they hate everything the Muppets usually do, you can imagine how long this version is.

Otherwise, the Blu-ray is extremely light on extras, with no behind-the-scenes material. There's a funny extended gag reel and a music video, but the highlight is probably a video blog by Rizzo the Rat posing as an Internet troll begging the producers to give Rizzo (and other minor Muppets characters) more of a prominent role in the film.

About the Author: John Latchem

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