While the preceding Muppets picture was a riotous success, there was a criticism to be made in the more mawkish tendencies of the piece, as the themes of nostalgia felt somewhat contrived at times. However the sequel is all about the story, heading into rather darker territory, where heists and Russian Gulags become involved – and the film certainly benefits as a result.
We head back into the Jim Henson universe to meet up with our favourite puppets as Kermit the Frog is approached by Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), posing as a businessman and hoping to entice the collective on a world tour, which will allow him and the notorious villain (and Kermit lookalike) Constantine to steal the Crown Jewels. Their dastardly plan is for Kermit to replace Constantine in prison, and for Constantine to impersonate the former, and persuade Miss Piggy and co. to embark on this devilish world tour. All the while with inspector Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) on their tail.
There was a worry when actor Jason Segel, who starred and co-penned the first picture, opted out of the sequel – however with director James Bobin still at the helm, the film is very much in the same spirit of the first, remaining faithful to its accessibility and making it appeal to people of all ages once more. With many jokes aimed at a younger crowd, the film maintains its meta approach, as a self-referential piece that deconstructs the genre somewhat. One of the most triumphant aspects of the title, and franchise for that matter, is the richness of the soundtrack and the distinct comic talent of writer Bret McKenzie, one half of Flight of the Conchords. He brings that ability of writing funny yet very catchy numbers to the big screen.
Talking of Flight of the Conchords: McKenzie’s partner in crime Jemaine Clement heads a host of surprise cameos, remaining true to the allurement of The Muppets, in how they entice some of the biggest stars in the world to make an appearance in their presence. While the temptation to reveal who they are exists, it’s best to leave that for another day. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a surprise, after all.