IHAO on ... The Muppets Most Wanted

The Muppet resurgence was a very nice thing for this Muppets fan.  I've loved them for a long time, own as much of it as I can, think deeply about thinks I don't need to (like with everything) and just genuinely enjoy them.  My favorite Muppet film was Muppets Take Manhattan, and my favorite show was Muppets Tonight!, which is underrated in my humble opinion.  Then we had Jason Segal's loving film bringing them back, which was wonderful.  Now, we have a sequel, without Segal.  How did that one go?

This movie does a whole lot of things right.  It is funny, the music is catchy, the plot is new and original.  I don't love it, but I like it a lot.  But ... all right, if you'll indulge me for a second, let me talk about basic story plotting.

Woah, hold one there.  Time to just scroll to the bottom for the grade.

When telling a story, especially film or television, you generally will have a A-story and a B-story, a major focus and a secondary focus.  The A-story is the crux of the film where the B-story generally ends up dovetailing into the A-story as well.  Lots of films do this with a plot and a character arc as the A-story then B-story, like Johnny English for whatever reason I pulled out a reference to THAT film.  With that quick explanation said, here is Muppets Most Wanted A-story and B-story:

A-Story: An evil frog named Constantine has replaced Kermit and is going around Europe stealing the pieces necessary to steal the ultimate treasure, the crown jewels, culminating in a fake wedding.

B-Story: Kermit is stuck in a Siberian Gulag with a bunch of new prisoner characters and has to find a way to escape, culminating in a Gulag version of the Muppet Show.

Does something feel off there?  The main story is about the antagonist of the film, Constantine.  We should be watching a story about Kermit trying to get back to his friends, who are all duped by Constantine because he hides his mole and gives them everything they want, hurting the show in the process.  Instead, we have all the Muppets looking like idiots for not being able to tell the difference between the two of them, and yes, that is the joke, except we also spend 3 or 4 minutes at the climax with Kermit being upset about it and asking how they could possibly have not known?

That bit of plot was tricky, too, because Animal DID notice it wasn't Kermit ... but because the A-story is about Constantine, they can't have people figuring it out too fast, so it is just ignored.  There's a lot of little quibbly bits of logic within the plotting.

My two other major problems are about the music and the new characters.  The music seems rushed, and given no weight.  Songs just start out of nowhere and then finish to no consequence.  We don't get to sit with the songs, which are very good and funny, so despite how much I liked them, they just breeze by and eventually just stop being there right at the end, except for a corny version of "Together Again" where they say "Together again ... again" treating the song like a joke.

The other problem is new characters.  Each muppet film has introduced new Muppets, new characters we can love.  Great Muppet Caper introduced Beauregard among others.  Muppets Take Manhattan introduced Rizzo the Rat and his rats as we know and love them currently.  Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island both created new Muppets that show up in the background of other projects.  Muppets From Space gave us Clifford (to the wider audience), Bobo and Pepe.  And The Muppets gave us Walter and 80s Robot.  In this we ... had a Kermit clone.  And that's it!  Nothing else.  If we had focused on the Kermit story instead of the Constantine one, we could have met all sorts of new prisoner Muppets, who Kermit befriends and brings into the fold, because that's what he does!  But nah, we just need more cameos.  Lots and lots of cameos.

The fact that Stan Lee, Cameo King, didn't show up is absolutely shocking to me.

For all my thoughts and complaints, the film is fun, funny, and very likable.  I find it to have a big glaring problem in its plotting, which harms the film in other places, but other than that, it was real fun.  I miss Segal's presence, not as an actor, but as a writer.  But other than that, I'd give it a shot, even knowing it isn't up to snuff in my opinion to what it clearly could have been.

Grade: B

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