2014 Written by James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller
Directed by James Bobin
The Muppets return again with a new adventure that feels strangely familiar. While it is great to see the Muppets actually being the stars of their movies again, Muppets Most Wanted lacks the emotional depth of some of the prior films to focus instead on a heist caper that features an evil twin and Muppets running wild under no supervision. The center core is buried a bit deeper, showing the Muppets can’t really survive on their own as they need Kermit’s guidance to keep them from drowning in their own excess.
In Muppets Most Wanted a new manager – Dominic Badguy – signs with the group and gets them to go on a world tour that suspiciously is happening in towns needed to get pieces for a jewel heist. More importantly, Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog, has escaped from his Russian gulag and managed to switch places with Kermit, who finds himself incarcerated while Constantine takes the place of our main frog. Hijinks then ensue. Muppets Most Wanted shines when it’s doing meta-commentary and breaking the never-present fourth wall. It continues literally from the final seconds of The Muppets, complete with Muppet confusion on what to do next. The opening song will go on to be touted as a manifesto for the film itself, and I particularly like the song Constantine sings as an apology to Miss Piggy, because it summarizes his entire allure to the group and why no one seems to notice anything is wrong. Constantine becomes a Satan character, promising the Muppets whatever they want to keep them happy while he and Dominic Badguy plot to steal the crown jewels of England. The various characters take this to extremes, resulting in increasingly bizarre and disastrous acts. Both Constantine and Dominic use unbridled freedom as a weapon and a distraction, but it soon becomes apparent just why oversight and control is needed. At times Muppets Most Wanted turns into Muppets Needful Things, but luckily things get solved for they start getting Stephen King disturbing.
Kermit the Frog (Steve Whitmire) – Kermit is the leader of the Muppets and totally is not a dangerous criminal mastermind with a mole.
Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson) – The fabulous Miss Piggy may have finally convinced Kermit to marry her. But why does she feel weird about it?
Fozzie Bear (Eric Jacobson) – No he’s a-not, he’s a-wearin’ a neck tie!
Constantine (Matt Vogel) – The world’s most dangerous frog has escaped from Siberia and has a plan to go down in history as a master criminal. And it involves the Muppets! Posing as Kermit, Constantine lets the Muppets do whatever they want to distract them from the truth.
Walter (Peter Linz) – Walter is back and on tour with his new family, the Muppets. Only something is wrong….
Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) – The French-named new manager of the Muppets who leads them on the world tour that’s just an excuse to get the items needed for a heist.
Nadya (Tina Fey) – Runs the Siberian gulag that Constantine escaped from and Kermit is now held at. Like everyone there, they know Kermit isn’t Constantine but does nothing because she’s obsessed with Kermit and won’t let him go.
We all knew there would be a Puss in Boots movie the second the image of Puss with his giant cute eyes became a computer desktop background months before Shrek 2: Dark Territory hit theaters. And while the Shrek series has been on a rocketship to planet Crap, Puss in Boots manages to be more entertaining than any Shrek sequel. And I’m not just saying that because I liked the film and saw it for free at an advanced screening. In fact, I had a bad time at the theater until the film started, thanks to some awful customer service that guaranteed I’ll never buy concessions there again. But the humor was good enough to calm my nerves and even get me happy again.
Puss in Boots is a spinoff of the Shrek films, but manages to feel somewhat independent of the Shrek universe while still being a part of it. There are still fairy tale elements running around, but the desert environments, Mexican flavor, and wild west inspiration give us a different spin. We follow our familiar character, Puss in Boots, as he has a prequel adventure that is both a story of its own and an origin story (done in flashback.) The decision to not make it a direct origin story, but to start from a familiar place and then go backwards before heading forwards was the right one. We already like Puss in Boots, and don’t need to be sold on liking him. The flashback to his childhood instead is plot related, making it feel important and not just filler.
Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) – Our title kitty is the solo hero this time out. And gives us some much-needed awesomeness on full throttle. Puss in Boots was always awesome, and he’s still awesome when the spotlight is shone on him.
Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) – The famous feline thief you may have heard of, but if you haven’t, it’s only because she’s robbed your memory. The greatest thief eve becomes the love interest for our feature.
Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) – Puss’s old pal who turned to a life of crime and roped Puss into it. Now reformed, he’s trying to recruit Puss into one last big score, robbing the goose that lays the golden eggs.