What Can We Expect from "Muppets Most Wanted"?

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
March 17th, 2014

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In 2011, Jason Segel brought the Muppets back to the big screen for the first time since 1999. He co-wrote a fresh, inventive script with his friend, Nicholas Stoller. Although nobody was sure how the public would receive this blast from the past, Kermit, Miss Piggy and their assorted friends took the world by storm. "The Muppets" became a box office success, even landing an Oscar for Best Original Song. Segel succeeded at his mission in a big way. Since 2011, the Muppets, Jim Henson's lovable puppet and marionette hybrids, have come bursting back onto the pop cultural scene. No longer nostalgic relics of the 1970s and 80s, the Muppets are now tried and tested box office draws for contemporary audiences.

Thanks to this revived popularity, "Muppets Most Wanted" premieres on March 21, 2014. This sequel to "The Muppets" features plenty of familiar faces returning to the credits. James Bobin returns as director, while Stoller penned the script. Bret McKenzie, who composed many of the songs in "The Muppets" and received an Oscar for his efforts, once again provides original songs for the score. "We're Doing a Sequel" is the festive and self-referential opening number of the movie, immediately showcasing McKenzie's signature wit.

Surprisingly, one of the major players from the 2011 film is not involved in "Muppets Most Wanted." Segel wrote and starred in "The Muppets," serving as the project's biggest cheerleader and dedicating years of his life to seeing the Muppets back in the spotlight. Now, however, Segel is ready to hand those reigns on to other people. He has reportedly left the project on amicable terms, preferring to let Stoller, Bobin and McKenzie carry on the legacy that Segel helped to start. Although "Muppets Most Wanted" may not have Segel's direct involvement, fans can expect that his spirit of energy and creativity will still shine through in the sequel.

"Muppets Most Wanted" takes the Muppet crew in a new direction literally. Instead of taking place in Smalltown or Los Angeles, the sequel shifts the focus to Europe. Now back in the limelight, the Muppets head out on a global tour. Unfortunately, though, the Muppets are taking the advice of a man with a highly suspicious surname. Dominic Badguy (apparently pronounced "bad-gee") has his own ulterior motive for guiding the Muppets to Europe.

As it turns out, Badguy's in league with Constantine, a suave and dangerous thief who just happens to look like wholesome Kermit. Using Kermit as his froggy doppelganger, Constantine manages to send the Muppet to a Siberian gulag. With the real Kermit out of the way, Constantine poses as the plucky leader of the Muppet gang. It doesn't take long for some of the Muppets to start wondering why Kermit is acting a little differently. Under the guise of touring Europe, Constantine is actually pulling off sneaky heists at various museums. Meanwhile, Kermit is trying to convince the Russian prison guard, Nadya, that he's not actually a dangerous criminal.

Like Segel, "The Muppets" star Amy Adams will not appear in "Muppets Most Wanted." Luckily for fans, though, the cast features a whole new bevy of comedy's biggest names. Tina Fey, celebrated comedian and actress, brings out a convincing accent as prison warden Nadya. British Ricky Gervais stars as the dubiously named Badguy. Ty Burrell, known for his role as goofy Phil Dunphy on "Modern Family," takes a suave international turn as a French Interpol agent.

Fans should keep a sharp lookout for the many celebrities and singers who make hilarious cameos, adding some extra sparkle to the screen. Lady Gaga, Tom Hiddleston, Ray Liotta and Celine Dion are just some of the big names who will reportedly round out the film's impressive human cast.

Although the cameos by human actors are always a fun landmark of Muppet feature films, the true stars are the Muppets themselves. Moviegoers can expect the usual quirky line up of all their favorite characters. Kermit is, as usual, the real star of the film, with the glamorous and dramatic Miss Piggy playing a very close second. Corny jokester Fozzie Bear, nerdy Scooter and the eccentric Gonzo also feature in the film, along with a whole bevy of both popular and lesser-known Muppet personalities.

Ultimately, fans can expect the eighth feature film in the Muppets franchise to boast the wacky sense of humor, catchy songs and witty interactions between Muppets and human actors that have made the other films so enduringly popular. Familiar names such as Bobin, Stoller and McKenzie ensure that "Muppets Most Wanted" will retain the fun and nostalgic vibe of "The Muppets." At the same time, new faces, including Fey, Gervais and Burrell, keep the movie fresh and unexpected. The international caper promises to dazzle old fans and new.