‘Muppets Most Wanted’: The Reviews Are In

Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey join in the fun for this weekend's new 'Muppets' movie caper.

It’s not easy being green — and it’s not easy being a sequel to “The Muppets.”

This weekend, director James Bobin and writer Nick Stoller offer up their all-new Muppet movie, titled “Muppets Most Wanted,” to the theater powers that be — namely, the moviegoing public. It appears that 2011′s “The Muppets” is a tough act to follow, but even “Muppets Most Wanted” is aware of that fact, addressing the sequel-sized elephant in the room right at the top of the film.

Here’s what else critics are saying about the new Muppet movie caper.

The Story
“Bobin and Stoller sally forth with a daft yarn that combines the series’ steadfast storytelling modes of chaotic backstage drama and, well, a great Muppet caper. Now reunited, The Muppets immediately sign up with plainly sleazy talent manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) and embark on an ill-rehearsed European tour — little realizing that their act is a mere front for a series of bank heists engineered by dastardly Kermit lookalike Konstantin. Mistaken identity games naturally ensue, with Kermit hauled off to a Russian gulag ruled with a travel-iron fist by Tina Fey’s Broadway-loving wardress. Konstantin, meanwhile, gives the bemused Muppets free rein over their show, with amusingly calamitous results.” — Guy Lodge, HitFix

It’s Not Easy Being A Sequel
“Any hope you may have had that ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ would take these characters in any direction besides the most predictable is quickly scuttled with the new film’s opening number, ‘We’re Doing a Sequel,’ in which our heroes sing, ‘We’re doing a sequel/That’s what we do in Hollywood/And everybody knows/The sequel’s never quite as good.’ It’s funny ’cause it’s true, and ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ pretty much exists on the self-aware level of that lyric throughout — charming, but uninspired.” — Bilge Ebiri, Vulture

Muppet Musical Madness
“Starting your movie with a song openly admitting that sequels are never as good as their predecessors is a ballsy move, but songwriter Bret McKenzie is less letting himself and the filmmakers off the hook than addressing the elephant in the room, which lets the film unspool without requiring the audience to filter their reactions through what they experienced in 2011. That said, the opening song’s razor-sharp irreverence (‘we can’t do any worse than “The Godfather III”‘) indicates that the material here isn’t merely a pale imitation of what came before, and sets an impressive precedent for the music that McKenzie sustains throughout the whole film.” — Todd Gilchrist, The Playlist

The Feel-Good Factor
“Before anyone huffs and puffs about sullying the good name of the Muppets, remember how these are gypsy showfolk singing for their supper, and are in no way above a little hucksterism to make a dollar. It’s that no foolin’ attitude, along with all the feel-good togetherness and personal growth and learning about the number 3, that makes the Muppets, and this movie, so special.” — Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

The Final Word
“‘Muppets Most Wanted’ drags in spots, and because it’s so reliant on an ebullient tone, those fallow patches are more troublesome. (It’s like watching the air slowly leak out of a balloon.) But the film keeps rebounding, coming up with new, amazingly dumb bits of comic business. (Seriously, folks, the puns in this movie….) Some will find this movie so old-school schtick-y that they can’t get on its wavelength, and the permanent loss of Henson (not to mention Frank Oz’s absence) keeps the Muppets from fully retaining that magical essence they once radiated. But they retain more than enough of it. This movie is pure joy.” — Tim Grierson, Deadspin

Likes pizza, punch and pie. Dislikes the Chitauri.
@roundhoward