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Muppets Most Wanted: The Unnecessarily Extended Edition Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Digital Copy Review

Muppets Most Wanted (2014) movie poster Muppets Most Wanted

Theatrical Release: March 21, 2014 / Running Time: 107 Minutes (Theatrical Cut), 119 Minutes (The Unnecessarily Extended Cut) / Rating: PG (Theatrical), Not Rated (Extended)

Director: James Bobin / Writers: James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller

Cast: Ricky Gervais (Dominic Badguy), Ty Burrell (Jean Pierre Napoleon), Tina Fey (Nadya), Steve Whitmire (Kermit the Frog, Foo Foo, Statler, Beaker, Lips, Rizzo the Rat, Link Hogthrob, The Newsman), Eric Jacobson (Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam Eagle, Animal), Dave Goelz (The Great Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, Beauregard, Waldorf), Bill Barretta (Pepe the King Prawn, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth, The Swedish Chef, Bobo the Bear, Big Mean Carl, Baby Boss, Carlo Flamingo, Leprechaun Security Guard), David Rudman (Scooter, Janice, Miss Poogy, Bobby Benson, Wayne), Matt Vogel (Constantine, Floyd Pepper, Sweetums, Pops, Robin, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, '80s Robot, Camilla, Uncle Deadly), Peter Linz (Walter, Manolo Flamingo), Tony Bennett (Himself), Hugh Bonneville (Irish Journalist), Jemaine Clement (Prison King), Sean Combs (Himself), Rob Corddry (First AD), Mackenzie Crook (Prado Museum Guard #1), Cιline Dion (Piggy Fairy Godmother), Lady Gaga (Herself), Zach Galifianakis (Hobo Joe), Josh Groban (Maximum Security Prisoner), Salma Hayek (Herself), Tom Hiddleston (The Great Escapo), Tom Hollander (Theater Manager), Toby Jones (Prado Museum Guard #2), Frank Langella (Beefeater Vicar), Ray Liotta (Big Papa), Ross Lynch (Young Florist), James McAvoy (UPS Guy), Chloλ Grace Moretz (Newspaper Girl), Dylan "Hornswoggle" Post (Prisoner One), Usher Raymond (The Usher), Miranda Richardson (Berliner at Window), Saoirse Ronan (Herself), Til Schweiger (German Cop), Danny Trejo (Danny Trejo), Stanley Tucci (Ivan the Guard), Christoph Waltz (Himself)

Songs: "We're Doing a Sequel", "I'm Number One", "Big House", "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)", "Macarena (Bayside Boys Remix)", "Interrogation Song", "End of the Road", "I Hope I Get It", "Moves Like Jagger", "My Heart Will Go On", "Something So Right", "Working in the Coal Mine", "Together Again"

Buy Muppets Most Wanted from Amazon.com: Blu-ray Combo Pack • DVD • Instant Video

2011's The Muppets was a tremendously satisfying revival for Jim Henson's lovable, colorful, furry creations. It evoked past productions but brought new entertainment to the table while also functioning as a celebration of its enduring characters and an acknowledgement of their creative downtime. Critics loved it, most moviegoers loved it, and it finally won the franchise an Oscar for Best Original Song.
For a Thanksgiving week Disney release, the film's box office performance was somewhat soft; worldwide, it grossed a little more than half of what the live-action 101 Dalmatians did in 1996-97. But Muppets came close to doubling its reasonable production budget domestically and Disney wasn't about to let its 2004 purchase of the property -- for undisclosed terms believed to be slightly under $200 million -- languish on TV specials. With the brand's goodwill restored and home video sales proving strong, Disney announced a plan to make a sequel sooner rather than later.

The sequel, titled Muppets Most Wanted, reminds us its delightful predecessor is a tough act to follow. Not that this effort, the Muppet gang's eighth theatrical outing, aims anywhere near as high as the previous installment. From that film, director James Bobin is back and now shares writing credit with returning scribe Nicholas Stoller. Jason Segel, the face and co-writer of the last film, is gone and missed. Not even given one of the film's countless cameos, Segel's focal Gary is only momentarily shown from the back along with fellow no-show Amy Adams' Mary (needless to say, the parts have been recast with suitable back doubles). Those characters and ones played by Chris Cooper and Rashida Jones are otherwise not even mentioned, but Muppet fan turned Muppet Walter retains a fairly prominent presence and one cameo (Zach Galifianakis' Hobo Joe) gets a reprise.

Though it opens at the end of The Muppets, the crowd of paid extras dispersed and the musical euphoria evaporated, Muppets Most Wanted isn't interested in looking back, but forward. It does so with an international plot recalling The Great Muppet Caper, the 1981 sequel that quickly followed 1979's original The Muppet Movie. Caper grossed less than half of what its predecessor made and clearly ranks among the lesser entries in the series. Most Wanted fared only slightly better, grossing $51 million domestically (and selling barely half as many tickets as Caper to do so). Inexplicably, despite relying on European settings that made Cars 2 and Madagascar 3 global phenoms (as well as a somewhat international human cast), this sequel disappointed even more in foreign markets, adding a paltry $27 M overseas.

Mistaken for the criminal genius Constantine, Kermit the Frog winds up in a Siberian Gulag in "Muppets Most Wanted."

In this film, the Muppets are approached by Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who insists his surname is pronounced "Badgey" but isn't fooling us. Dominic wants to be the gang's manager on a world tour. De facto leader Kermit the Frog thinks they need time to rehearse an act, but Dominic's feigned airs of success and power convince the large, varied group to instead embark on a train ride to Berlin, where they'll begin performing immediately. Surprisingly, under Dominic's management,
the Muppets book respectable venues, performing to packed houses and glowing reviews. But the tour is simply a charade, an alibi for Dominic's real dealings with Constantine, the world's most wanted criminal frog, who engineers an escape from a Siberian gulag and, applying a dab of green makeup to his face and a sticky mole in the same place to Kermit's, is able to switch places with the Muppets' sensible showman.

While Kermit is arrested and sent to Siberia, the other Muppets accept that the thickly Russian-accented Constantine is Kermit fighting a cold. The tour takes them to locations near Dominic and Constantine's targets. The string of thefts grabs the attention of an American CIA agent (Sam the Eagle) and a French INTERPOL detective ("Modern Family"'s Ty Burrell), who begrudgingly team up after battling over jurisdiction and the size of their badges.

In Siberia, Kermit plots an escape many times, but is thwarted in each attempt by the officer Nadya (Tina Fey), who's seen it all done before. Harboring a secret infatuation, Nadya assigns Kermit to direct his fellow inmates (played most notably by Ray Liotta, Jemaine Clement, and Danny Trejo) in the gulag's annual revue, which contributes some to this film's high song count. Again, Bret McKenzie functions as music supervisor and the various songs he writes and produces evoke the same winning spirit and versatility as his best-known work, the "folk duo" Flight of the Conchords and their self-titled HBO comedy series.

The Muppet gang opens the film with the candid, self-reflexive song "We're Doing a Sequel." Constantine reminds Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) that Constantine is #1 and Dominic is #2.

Muppets Most Wanted doesn't come anywhere close to the heights of 2011's The Muppets. Despite its trailers' claims that the sequel is always bigger and better, this film doesn't believe that at all (it even slyly acknowledges "the sequel's never quite as good" in the reflexive opening number). It demands comparisons not to the franchise's three hallowed starts/restarts but to its less enchanting follow-ups: the aforementioned Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Muppet Treasure Island, and even the poorly-regarded Muppets from Space. Based on the careers of the three prominently-billed human leads, you might even expect a TV-caliber production. While this would be exceptional for a television movie, it's still pretty good for a theatrical film.

It misses the clout and personalities of Segel, Adams, and Cooper. Its story makes the opening search for a "half-decent" plot seem all too believable, as if putting the cart before the horse, Disney greenlit a sequel without hatching a strong idea for one. The passion and reverence of the previous film now seem most easily attributable to Segel and while they might be misplaced or redundant here, no element on display (accents, criminals, identity theft) makes a suitable substitute. The messiness of this tale (which again reduces the Muppets, aside from Kermit, to relatively minor roles) is easily written off with a joke or a break of the fourth wall.

Save for a couple of amusing ones, the abundant, now-expected cameos don't do much besides make you think, "Oh, I guess [Christoph Waltz/Til Schweiger/Salma Hayek/Frank Langella] is a Muppets fan." Really, who in their right mind would turn down the chance to become part of such a fun tradition?

CIA agent Sam Eagle and INTERPOL officer Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) overcome their differences to solve a string of international heists together. Inside the Gulag, Kermit trains hardened criminals (including Ray Liotta, Jemaine Clement, and Danny Trejo) in the art of musical showmanship.

Muppets Most Wanted is enough fun to add to that tradition and maybe as the songs become more familiar, it will reveal itself to be more than that. My first impression, now reinforced by an in-home viewing, is that it's an enjoyable time, but not an especially memorable one that those outside the Muppet fan base will be talking about a decade from now.
This sequel is better than I feared it would be, but not nearly as good as I hoped it could be, following what I considered to be 2011's best film.

It's tough to imagine where Disney goes from here, knowing that this movie lost money, that most of the studio's others from Marvel, Pixar, and Disney Animation do not, and that downtime is the enemy to brand prosperity. In light of all that, recent reports of a Muppet return to television make sense. It would keep the characters in circulation and give Disney and hired screenwriters time to come up with a sturdier story, something they really ought to have done this time around.

Muppets Most Wanted hits home video on Tuesday in a plain DVD and a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Digital Copy that is humorously billed The Unnecessarily Extended Edition. The Blu-ray disc of that combo pack in fact presents the film in three different forms. There is the original PG-rated theatrical cut and two unrated alternate ones.

Presented by seamless branching, The Unnecessarily Extended Cut lives up to its tongue-in-cheek name, running almost twelve full minutes longer than the theatrical edit. Less is more here, as Most Wanted definitely suffers from the elongations. This film doesn't need to be any longer; it already ran longer than every previous Muppet movie. Just barely finishing before the two-hour mark, the extended cut feels overlong and doesn't add much of note. There are a number of new throwaway gags, the best being a chuckle-worthy appearance by "Disney Synergy Invites" at the climactic wedding. The opening number gains some random extended dance. There's more of the Muppet tour train's accident-prone conductor Beauregard. Hobo Joe kisses two male Muppets on the lips. Constantine's backstory is elaborated upon. And there are many more phony-looking cameo reprisals on the wall in the "Together Again...Again" finale. There's value to this edit as a one-time viewing, but I'd recommend sticking with the theatrical cut for everything but your second viewing of the film, provided you want to give it one.

You can probably guess with some accuracy where the third edit of the film, titled "The Statler & Waldorf Cut", is going. It indeed goes there, with the cranky old hecklers introducing their improved version that runs just 1 minute and 42 seconds and fast-forwards through everything but the opening Disney logo and a single bit of Statler and Waldorf banter. It's a predictable joke but one that makes you laugh nonetheless, especially if you're expecting a full-length cut.

Watch a clip from Muppets Most Wanted:

Muppets Most Wanted (2014): The Unnecessarily Extended Edition Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Digital Copy combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD HR (English); Theatrical cut only: Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish)
Both: Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
DVD Movie Closed Captioned; Most Extras Subtitled
Release Date: August 12, 2014 / Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video


Though the cast and overall quality may lead you to expect a TV-type presentation, Muppets Most Wanted has production values establishing it as theatrical fare. Those values are easy to admire in the Blu-ray's first-rate picture and sound. The 1.78:1 video offers vivid colors, a sharp element, and an outstanding level of detail. The 7.1 DTS-HD HR soundtrack similarly flows with life, immersing you in nicely-mixed music, enveloping effects, and crisp comedy.

Ricky Gervais characteristically cackles throughout "The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets History." "Rizzo's Biggest Fan" presents a letter typed by the rat pretending to be a fan in disorienting fashion, with words in reverse.


Beyond the two alternate edits of the film addressed above,
the Blu-ray holds three HD video bonus features.

"The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets History" (9:45) entertains with Muppeteers staying in character and their human co-stars trying to play along through flubs, laughs, and snafus. The reel even includes some bits from promotional interviews (which we sadly don't find on the disc) and downtime between takes.

"Rizzo's Biggest Fan" (2:47) shows Rizzo the Rat's biggest fan (Rizzo) penning a letter to director James "Burbin" and company requesting more screentime for Rizzo the Rat. It's oddly shot (letters are typed backwards over the bottom of the screen), but amusing.

Bret McKenzie kindly and stylishly steps in front of the camera for the music video of "I'll Get You What You Want", perhaps his most likely shot at a second Academy Award Original Song nomination. Sam Eagle tries to distinguish Constantine from Kermit on the Muppets Most Wanted DVD main menu.

Finally, there is a music video for "I'll Get You What You Want" (3:18) performed by its writer, music supervisor Bret McKenzie. Showing a little too much arm, he evokes Constantine with a white jacket and gold chain while popping up in the movie's settings.
The lively video makes you wonder why McKenzie hasn't appeared on camera in either of the two films he's clearly contributed much to.

Sadly but not too surprisingly, Pixar's Monsters University-themed short Party Central, which preceded Muppets Most Wanted in theaters, does not show up here. Nor, sadly, is there any way to see just the content reinserted for the extended cut as deleted scenes. Virtually no discs offer such a feature nowadays, so one can't be unusually bummed by this.

The DVD, the same one sold separately on its own, includes only the theatrical cut and the Bret McKenzie music video.

The discs open with promos for Disney Movies Anywhere, Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition, Maleficent, and Bears. The Sneak Peeks listing plays ads for Disney Movie Rewards, "Star Wars: Rebels", Disney Infinity, and Legend of the Neverbeast. (After running those, only the DVD repeats the disc-loading ones.)

The inventive main menu has Muppets walk by and inside a police line-up room while score plays, the occasional siren blares, and Sam Eagle makes comments.

Topped by an embossed, silver-bordered slipcover, the side-snapped keepcase places your Disney Movies Anywhere/Disney Movie Rewards booklet, a Disney Movie Club pamphlet, and another ad/coupon booklet among the two boringly-labeled discs.

In a subpar visual effect, nearly the entire Muppet gang winds up on The Wall at the Siberian Gulag for the film-closing concert.


As far as Muppet movies go, Most Wanted is quite average. It's a big step down from the previous outing and the franchise's other terrific highlights, but it still provides plenty of entertainment and more than you get from other family films you could charge with mediocrity. That this international sequel is good, not great does not surprise, given the personnel changes and lowered ambitions, but it does disappoint. Its box office underperformance also puts the big screen future of these endearing characters in serious doubt.

Disney's combo pack earns high marks for picture and sound. Though not copious, the bonus features assembled here all manage to divert. The truly unnecessary extended cut merits a curiosity viewing for the unused odds and ends it preserves, but like most extended cuts it does more harm than good. Thankfully the fine theatrical cut, which most should prefer, is also offered.

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Related Reviews:
The Muppets • The Muppet Movie • The Great Muppet Caper & Muppet Treasure Island • The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet Show: Season 1 • The Muppet Show: Season 2 • The Muppet Show: Season 3
A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa • The Muppets' Wizard of Oz • Henson's Place: The Man Behind the Muppets
Follow That Bird • Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian • Cars 2 • Monsters University • Men in Black 3
New: Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles • Divergent • Hercules • Bears • Need for Speed

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Reviewed August 10, 2014.

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