With a befuddled co-ordination that would make an Animal drum solo sound like the London Symphony Orchestra, Muppets: Most Wanted is all over the place.
Usually that’s how this ragtag band of animals; vegetables, whatchamacallits and whatevers work best. Fun, chaotic and impossibly hard to dislike – “It’s a bit nuts but it all comes together in the end” has been their winning formula.
Not this time.
This latest adventure, which sees the gang fall prey to amphibian master criminal, Constantine and his accomplice cum-Muppet manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) while on a world tour, is an exercise in how to try way too hard and still come up short.
From its jokes, plot and casting it seems as though plenty of ideas were thrown at the wall. Judging by the end results most of these suggestions slipped off, fell on the floor, got scooped up, stuck back on and used anyway.
Perhaps Disney was more concerned with green lighting Kermit and Co’s next escapade than figuring out what its content would be?
Stops in Berlin, Madrid, London and even the Siberian Gulag act merely as sight-seeing cameos, window dressing for a shortfall in entertainment as the story meanders aimlessly around.
There’s also no centre and pivotally for a Muppet movie no emotional hook. No counterbalance from which the trademark anarchy can swing – a definite lack of feeling amongst all the felt.
Arguably this is down to the departure of Amy Adams and Jason Segel (who also wrote the previous outing) as Most Wanted struggles without them.
A void’s definitely apparent and Segel’s creation and new recruit, Walter an integral player last time around isn’t the one fill it.
In the comedy department the barrel of laughs is alarmingly hollow. Gervais is cast into a bland straight-man role that offers very little, epitomised in an attempted David Brent-esque dance halfway. Some bizarre cameos also point towards a clutching at straws…Danny Trejo, seriously?
Wit, surprise and originality are rare beasts and at times some exchanges and set pieces feel like a re-hashing of older more vintage material.
A death knell? Perhaps. A warning sign? Undeniably. It’s sad to see such an enjoyable and enduring property treated this way. Hopefully any future exploits will be crafted with more love and ingenuity as right now it’s clear the rainbow connection has been severed and is in need of serious repair.