Where the 2011 reboot felt effortless in the way it recaptured that warmly anarchic Muppets humour, this sequel feels like it's working every step of the way. Yes, it's riotously silly and occasionally hilarious, but there are large chunks of the movie that just aren't funny at all, mainly because there's so much emphasis on the tangled web of a plot that the characters get lost in the shuffle.
It starts just as the last movie ended: the Muppets decide to do a sequel based on an idea from interloper Dominic (Ricky Gervais) to take their show on a world tour. But Dominic is actually in league with super-villain frog Constantine (Matt Vogel), who has just escaped from a gulag. So when the Muppet Show lands in Berlin, he orchestrates a swap: Constantine takes Kermit's place in the show, while Kermit (Steve Whitmire) is sent to Siberia under the watchful eye of guard Nadya (Tina Fey). Meanwhile, Interpol agent Jean-Pierre (Burrell) and CIA operative Sam Eagle (Eric Jacobson) are investigating a series of robberies mysteriously linked to Muppet performances in Berlin, Madrid and Dublin.
All of this builds to a head in London, where Constantine is staging an elaborate wedding to Miss Piggy (Jacobson) to distract from his real plan to steal the Crown Jewels. But this plot-strand feels predictable and limp compared to much more interesting character interaction. For example, scenes between Kermit and Fey are a lot more fun as they plan a musical revue with the inmates (and get Trejo and Liotta sing and dance!). And the escalating banter between Sam Eagle and Burrell is hilarious even as it indulges in cheap Euro-jokes.
By contrast, Gervais is never remotely funny, even in his own big song and dance number. And since the ensemble is scattered so far and wide, everyone on-screen feels like a supporting player. Still, these characters are enjoyable enough that we can't help but laugh. And playing spot the starry cameo is especially lively this time round. But the film reminds us that the Muppets are best when they're interacting with each other. And when we have no idea what they'll do next.
Run time: 107 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st March 2014
Box Office USA: $51.2M
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Production compaines: Buena Vista, Disney
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Fresh: 133 Rotten: 36
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: James Bobin
Producer: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman
Screenwriter: James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Ricky Gervais as Dominic, Ty Burrell as Jean Pierre Napoleon, Tina Fey as Nadya, Steve Whitmire as Kermit / Beaker / Statler / Rizzo / Newsman / Foo-Foo (voice), Eric Jacobson as Miss Piggy / Fozzie Bear / Animal / Sam Eagle (voice), Dave Goelz as Gonzo / Dr. Bunsen Honeydew / Zoot / Beauregard / Waldorf (voice), Bill Barretta as Swedish Chef / Rowlf / Dr. Teeth / Pepe the Prawn / Bobo (voice), Matt Vogel as Sgt. Floyd Pepper / Camilla / Sweetums / Lew Zealand / Crazy Harry (voice), Peter Linz as Walter (voice), Tom Hiddleston as Great Escapo, Kenneth Collard as The Berliner, Pamela Betsy Cooper as German Lady in the Audience, James Pasierbowicz as Joe, Richard Herdman as Commuter, David Rudman as Scooter / Janice (voice), Luke Howard as Spanish Train Porter, Pete Meads as German Audience Member, Ricky Rajpal as Audience Member, Jemaine Clement as Prison King, Zach Galifianakis as Hobo Joe, Tom Hollander as Theater Manager, Frank Langella as Beefeater Vicar, James McAvoy as UPS Guy, Chloë Grace Moretz as Newspaper Girl, Miranda Richardson as Berliner at Window, Saoirse Ronan as Herself, Til Schweiger as German Cop, Russell Tovey as Delivery Man, Christoph Waltz as Himself, Christoph Waltz as Christopher Waltz, Hugh Bonneville as Irish Journalist, Mackenzie Crook as Prado Museum Guard #1
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