Muppets Most Wanted opens later this month – and it is a rollickingly enjoyable experience for young and old.
The follow up to the 2011 film takes our felted friends on a global tour – but one which is beset by a caper involving a criminal plot to steal various art treasures (and then the Crown Jewels) from the world’s major museums. It’s all organised by Ricky Gervais’s Dominic Badguy – a name which does not seem to raise Muppet suspicions, even when he tells them his name is “French…Bad-JEE”. After a series of thefts quite clearly coincide with the venues played by the Muppets, Animal is the only one perceptive enough to smell a rat.
This is about the level of the humour – just the right kind of childishness I adore, but which may not be to precisely everyone’s tastes. It also features quite a few barbs against various nationalities –Ty Burrell’s Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon is a bone idle Frenchman who takes six hour lunch breaks, Badguy calls Berlin the “capital of comedy” and so on. But this being the Muppets there is enough charm and sweetness to carry it off.
And, of course, a big part of the fun is spotting the superstars making cameo appearances in the movie. Yes, we know that’s Tina Fey as the Gulag guard Nadia. She has quite a big part.
But you may end up leaving the cinema, as I did, and find out that you actually missed Lady Gaga or Usher (playing, appropriately enough, an usher).
I did at least spot MacKenzie Crook and Toby Jones splaying curators of the Muso del Prado. And (I think) I managed not to blink when Dexter Fletcher made his appearance. I also enjoyed watching Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville as a pair of unscrupulous journalists (and I bet they had fun getting their own back on my profession).
Tom Hiddleston also pops up in a fun turn as Escapo, the inmate of the Siberian Prison Camp (presided over by Nadia) where Kermit finds himself sadly holed up.
Oh yes, and Ray Liotta appears as a camp inmate too, while the moment Celine Dion joins fellow diva Miss Piggy in a black-and-white music video got me chuckling.
Spots I never made were James McAvoy as a delivery driver (so I was told afterwards) and, I am afraid, Lady Gaga (must have been snaffling around in my popcorn at the time). But I am assured she is in it.
If I have missed any others I can only apologise, but I would recommend you check the film out for yourself. It’s a joy….
Muppets Most Wanted is in UK cinemas from 28 March
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.