We were lucky to get an early glimpse of “Muppets Most Wanted.” I grew up a little too old for “The Muppet Show,” but my little brother loved it. So when the first new movie came out in 2011, I was excited to revisit the furry little friends with my kids. “The Muppets” was campy and fun, and we all really enjoyed it.
But “Muppets Most Wanted” is a very different movie. The plot revolves around, I kid you not, a Russian gulag. Kermit has an evil twin, a Russian bad guy named Constantine. Constantine has Kermit kidnapped and held prisoner while he steals all his muppet friends and lots of valuable objects from museums.
The opening song about sequels had everyone laughing, but the rest of the first half was fairly gloomy with very few laughs. It revolved largely around Kermit being jailed in the very depressing gulag with Tina Fey as the warden. Tina Fey is amazingly funny. Tina Fey as a warden, a bit less so.
The second half picked up speed, song, and humor. But still, everyone sounded like Borat, and many of the jokes revolve around being held prisoner, being in solitary confinement, being stuck to a frozen wall, etc. It’s honestly just a bizarre premise for a kids movie.
There are lots of cameos with everyone from Usher to Josh Groban and Celine Dion to Lady Gaga. But many of those cameos fly over the head of kids. As do obscure references to Shawshank Redemption and inside jokes, like “Die Muppets” on a promo poster in Germany.
Honestly, way too much of the content felt like it was made for adults. If the movie had ended halfway through, I know my kids would have given it a thumbs down. But by the end, there was rescuing and more musical numbers and some jokes they could actually enjoy. Plus, they really like popcorn.
As my kids were asking me to explain solitary confinement on the way home, it really struck me how odd the whole movie was. I’m sure that was the point, but I’m just not sure why. I enjoy kids’ movies with humor that works for adults as well, like the recent “Lego Movie.”
I’m just not sure how well this one works for kids.