Even Muppets Most Wanted acknowledges early on that a sequel is often inherently less than its predecessor. Luckily, it's not a big step down. This new Muppet movie can't match the original's effervescence, so the writers give it more plot than it needs.
Still, that's just fine because there are just as many glorious musical numbers and corny jokes this time around. The story goes like this: Constantine, a criminal who happens to look just like Kermit, breaks out of prison and rendezvous with Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who's leading the Muppets on a European tour. All the stops just happen to be right across the street from museums filled with valuable work for Constantine and Dominic to steal.
Meanwhile, Kermit has been mistaken for Constantine and thrown into a Siberian gulag. And who better to play the sadistic warden than, uh, Tina Fey? Of course this is stunt casting, but Tina Fey can pull off anything (well, the accent is questionable). Her number about the prison's accommodations was a highlight for me. Her love of musicals"”and Kermit"”finds our beloved frog forced to direct the annual prison musical.
This gives the film a great showcase for the parallel revues: the out-of-control tour and the warts-and-all show at the prison. Both are train wrecks, but in different ways. I mean, you've got Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo singing "God, I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line. How many other movies would ever give you that?
Muppets Most Wanted could have stood to lose about 20 minutes. I didn't need another scene of Dominic and Constantine tunneling underneath the theater. I needed another catchy number like "Welcome to the Big House." And I wanted more scenes with Sam the Eagle as a CIA agent trying to upstage Ty Burrell as an INTERPOL officer. Their American-vs.-French bickering cracked me up.
The movie by and large did, too. Like the first one, there's at least one gallingly unfunny sight gag and one song selection that proves someone involved has terrible taste in music. But this is a sturdy sequel. It may not be easy being green, but it's easy to enjoy Muppets Most Wanted.