SINGAPORE - Almost six decades in and The Muppets seem to lose none of their timeless appeal with their wicked absurdist humour. A 2011 big screen namesake reboot became their most successful cinematic outing ever, prompting this sequel which Kermit and gang are quick to acknowledge as a bit of a cash-grab in the movie's opening number, We're Doing a Sequel.
But that's just their good ol' self-referential humour kicking in early, with the lyrics warning this might not be half as good as the original. Unfortunately, they might have also spoken a little too soon. To be fair, the first film did set the bar very high with its zany energy, blink-and-you'll-miss-it celebrity cameos and outrageous laugh-a-minute gags.
Muppets Most Wanted follows pretty much the same formula and is an entertaining romp; though the surprise factor is no longer as fresh. The wholesome goofiness of Jason Segel and Amy Adams from the first film - which gave it an all-ages appeal - is also missing because they've been replaced by Ricky Gervais (The Office) and Tina Fey (30 Rock).
Both Gervais and Fey boast a broader comic range which they put to good use here but their following is slightly older because of their works on television so Muppets Most Wanted feels less family-oriented. Throw in a couple of Cold War references - the villain is a Russian frog and parts of the film take place in a Siberian Gulag - and it's almost as if returning director-writer James Bobin and co-writer Nicholas Stroller momentarily forgot about the kids this time round.