Disney misses a step with ‘Muppets Most Wanted’

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As excited as I was to tell moviegoers about 2011’s “The Muppets,” I must admit, this sequel to that extraordinary reboot feels more or less ordinary.

What’s missing this time around? Simple. No Jason Segel.

He was such a big fan of the original material and made such a significant and clever film the first time around, that there was bound to be a letdown without him.

Even the the Muppets themselves realize it in the opening song as they poke fun of sequels as never being as good as the originals — and they are prophetically right.

This story picks up where the previous left off, as the Muppets, with their newly found fame, want to keep the party going. To that end, a slick tour manager, Dominic (Ricky Gervais), convinces the motley crew to go on a worldwide tour.

Dominic is really working for Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog, who looks just like Kermit, only he has a beauty mark, a Russian accent and likes to blow things up.

The plan is for Constantine to escape a Siberian gulag, slap a mole on Kermit’s face and exchange places with him. Kermit is arrested and sent to Russia, while Constantine pretends to be Kermie, even though he sounds nothing like him.

He also plans to use the Muppets as a distraction, while he and Dominic break into various European museums, in search of the means to eventually steal the Crown Jewels from the British monarchy.

So the stories diverge as Kermit is forced to deal with the harsh prison life in Siberia, while Constantine manipulates the show tour to suit his grand heist schemes.

As in other Muppet films, several celebrity cameos are throw in, but they don’t have the same creative purpose as the last movie so masterfully exhibited. I felt especially bad for Christoph Waltz and Salma Hayek for their lame walk-throughs.

The musical numbers were pretty decent, especially that initial “sequel” song, while Ty Burrell’s French accent and Tina Fey’s Russian equivalent were just so-so.

I wouldn’t call this any kind of leap forward in “The Muppets” franchise. In fact, it’s more of the same old, same old. I guess I didn’t realize what a big impact Segel had on that last film, and based on this new one, I don’t think Disney realized it either.