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FILM FANS: Entertainment factor of 'Muppets Most Wanted' praised, called into question

EDITOR’S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: “Muppets Most Wanted.” Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 out of 4 stars

“Muppets Most Wanted” literally begins as soon as the previous installment of “The Muppets” ends. The cast finishes up the previous movie’s final scene, turns around and the story for this movie begins. Though not as good as the first movie, this sequel is still pretty funny. I especially enjoy the self-awareness the characters have. They know they are in a movie and never let the audience forget that. The human characters were great, too! Who knew that Tina Fey could do such a great Russian accent or that Danny Trejo can sing and dance? There is plenty to keep both kids and adults entertained without resorting to double entendre or potty humor. Here’s hoping there are many more Muppet movies to come!

— Laurel Grams, Lawrenceville

2 out of 4 stars

“Muppets Most Wanted” picks up where 2011’s “The Muppets” left off, with a song and dance routine and the closing of that movie’s set. Wondering what to do next, the gang is approached by promoter Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) with the idea of going on a world tour. Muppet leader Kermit finally gives his assent, and soon the whole gang is off to such places as Berlin, Dublin and London. Not all is as it seems, however; Badguy is actually in cahoots with Russian criminal mastermind Constantine (who looks exactly like Kermit, only with a big mole on his cheek). It seems that Constantine is breaking out of a Siberian gulag headed by Nadya (Tina Fey, the best part of this flick), with plans to switch places with Kermit, in order to pull off a heist of the British Crown Jewels. None of the Muppets are wise to Constantine’s obvious differences from Kermit — except for Animal — and soon the whole gang falls under Constantine’s spell, including his marriage proposal to Miss Piggy. Meanwhile, Kermit makes the most of his confinement in the gulag by staging a production number with fellow inmates.

This movie has some slightly funny moments, with lots of gag references to a wide range of other movie genres, such as James Bond films, Ingmar Bergman. However, most of the humor is forced at times, and is completely over the heads of anyone under the age of 40. The kiddies around me at the theater were mostly bored, as the action lacks any real physical humor like the slapstick that was a big part of “The Muppets” TV show back in the day. And there are plenty of celebrity cameos in this, all the way from Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett to Usher, Celine Dion and Salma Hayek; again, however, these appearances had little or no appeal to youngsters and had only mild interest for adults. Audience laughter was almost non-existent when I went to the theater, and the film really dragged at times.

All in all, this “Muppets” flick should have been titled “Muppets Most Lukewarm” and sent back to the kitchen for a better recipe.

— Tim Weekley, Suwanee

3 out of 4 stars

“Muppets Most Wanted” picks up where 2011’s “The Muppets” left off and it doesn’t take long to get into the action. The most evil criminal frog in the world, Constantine, has kidnapped and stepped into the life of Kermit the Frog and adventurous hilarity ensues.

The Muppets are in good form here, bringing their usual mix of comedy and heartfelt endearment. Ricky Gervais is a bit subdued, however, and not nearly as over-the-top as you might expect as Dominic Badguy. Tina Fey plays Nadya, a leader at the Russian prison where Kermit is sent and has several funny scenes and sings, as well. Other celebrities make cameo appearances, and it would be a crime to reveal their names and spoil it for you here.

The original songs, composed by Bret McKenzie, don’t break much new ground, but the prison scene featuring the inmates dancing and singing the classic “I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line is a hoot.

There is plenty here to enjoy for both kids and adults. Be sure and arrive on time — there is a Monsters University short film courtesy of Pixar before “Muppets Most Wanted” begins.

— Paul Tate, Sugar Hill