Lots of laughs in new Muppets movie

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For all the high standards that even amateur film critics such as myself use to scrutinize movies, sometimes the power of fun cannot be stated enough. This is the case with the newest Muppets movie, “Muppets Most Wanted.”

No, Kermit and crew are not pushing any genre boundaries, and I could spend my time nitpicking on all of the film’s shortcomings, but these issues can be forgiven for the most part because the latest feature-length installment of Jim Henson’s beloved creations provides an ample amount of laughs and fun.

The film picks up directly from the end of Jason Segel’s 2011 film “The Muppets” and has the fuzzy gang wondering what their next move will be. They are persuaded by Ricky Gervais’ character, the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek named Dominic Badguy, to go on a world tour.

From here, the film turns into a classic crime caper, as Constantine, the number one criminal in the world and Russian Kermit lookalike, teams up with Badguy to steal the crown jewels of England while also getting Kermit interred in the Siberian Gulag.

Throughout the movie, a number of enjoyable musical numbers and celebrity cameos keep things fresh while the film’s plot unfolds. Highlights are a Celine Dion cameo and Constantine’s hilarious solo song “I’ll Get You What You Want,” which is crooned in his goofy Russian accent.

Throughout the movie Constantine stands out as the funniest character. His constant belittling of Badguy’s criminal expertise and his hilarious failed attempts at impersonating Kermit are a constant source of laughs.

Throughout “Muppets Most Wanted,” the comedy is incredibly well done, blending slapstick, sophisticated references and just all out absurdism into a wonderful amalgamation of laughs. The veteran cast of notoriously funny people involved complements the comedy very well.

The main cast of the film – Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell – does a decent job as foils for their fuzzy castmates, but it is the antics of the Muppets that truly shine. The only downside about having such a large cast of characters to draw from is that some characters are only given one or two lines of dialogue for the film, but the filmmakers do a good job of giving everyone some screen time.

I was pleasantly surprised by how visually appealing the movie was. Sure, there are plenty of campy parts, but I would not expect anything less from a movie based on the escapades of talking puppets.

Despite this, the visuals manage to add to the sense of fun rather than detract. The visuals really shine during the musical numbers, where extensive choreography and outlandish production take center stage.

Unfortunately, not everything can be hidden by the copious amounts of fun the movie provides. Certain jokes fall flat, the plot is fairly basic, there are some pacing issues and there is some atrocious use of CGI that baffles me, but these issues are for the most part forgivable.

While “Muppets Most Wanted” is not one that will make a year-end list or go down as one of my favorites, it’s a very enjoyable way to spend two hours.