Muppets Sequel Can't Top Reboot
Critics are pleased overall, but can't help comparing to the 2011 installment
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2014 11:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Muppets are back following their spectacular 2011 revival. This time, they're headed to Europe (with comedic big-hitters Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Ty Burrell alongside), where all doesn't quite go as planned. Does Muppets Most Wanted live up to the reboot? The critics weigh in:

  • "Refreshingly wholesome and cleverly campy, it's a family film that should appeal to a wide age range, though not every joke hits its mark," writes Claudia Puig at USA Today. "The musical numbers' lyrics are a hoot, and the parade of cameos (from Celine Dion to Usher) is a bonus." Burrell, meanwhile, stands out with "a charmingly outlandish style" that hints of Mr. Bean.

  • What could be the funniest gag in the movie is a "sly skewering of our European allies, whose work habits, vacation-taking, and such are mocked relentlessly," notes Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times. Little kids may "be left behind" and "Vladimir V. Putin is unlikely to be amused," but grown-ups may well be. Still, "the whole film seems to have a vague heaviness to it," he notes—and no charm.
  • Stephen Whitty at the Star-Ledger admits the film "isn't as hip as the last one," and smacks more of "earlier installments like The Great Muppet Caper, which were less self-referential than just plain silly." He finds a few faults (the song length, the loudness of it all), but concludes that if you're a fan of the Muppets, "you'll probably be glad to see them back."
  • Ann Hornaday writes that the movie doesn't top 2011's version, but it "does a terrific job trying," she writes for the Washington Post. Songwriter Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords fame) "saves the day with a passel of catchy and amusing ditties that keep the movie humming along even when the plot threatens to sag." Plus, Burrell is "very funny."