I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
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Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
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Lisa Marie Presley is "overjoyed" to be expecting a child with husband Michael Lockwood.
The 40-year-old daughter of late rock legend Elvis Presley has two teenage children from her previous marriage to Danny Keogh--Riley, 18, and Benjamin, 15--but this is her first with Lockwood.
Presley's representative confirmed she is pregnant, telling People.com, "The couple are incredibly overjoyed."
Presley wed musical director Lockwood in 2006 after her three previous marriages all ended in divorce. The singer split from Keogh in 1988; she went on to marry Michael Jackson in 1994, breaking up with him 21 months later; and actor Nicolas Cage, who filed for divorce three months after they married in 2002.
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Top Story: Cage, Presley Officially End Marriage
Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley have made their divorce final, ending lengthy legal proceedings which outlasted the actual marriage itself, Reuters reports. Cage filed for divorce in November 2002 from Presley, after being married for only three months. According to an Extra report, citing court papers filed on Monday, the two "amicably resolved" their brief marriage, with neither receiving any kind of spousal support and each maintaining all assets acquired prior to their marriage. It was a third marriage for Presley, who was married to Michael Jackson for less than two years and who previously had two children with musician Danny Keogh. Cage was also previously married to actress Patricia Arquette.
Madonna Sidelines L.A. Concert
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West Wing's Janney Gets Engaged
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Charges Against Simmons Cleared
An assault charge against exercise guru Richard Simmons, who was accused of slapping a man at an airport, has been dropped, AP reports. Simmons, the outlandish 55-year-old known for his exercise videos, was accused of slapping a 6-foot-2, 250-pound traveler, who recognized Simmons in March at an Phoenix, Ariz., airport as they were waiting for a flight to Los Angeles and made an off-hand comment about Simmons' exercise videos, police said.
Marvel, Lions Gate Make Direct-to-DVD Pact
Marvel Enterprises Inc., which controls a library of more than 4,700 comic book characters, has chosen Lions Gate Entertainment to make at least eight direct-to-DVD animated features. Marvel and Lions Gate are expected develop eight 66-minute animated features for release on DVD beginning next year, focusing first on comic book characters such as Captain America, the Hulk, Thor and Iron Man. Per the agreement, Lions Gate will provide Marvel with licensing fees for character rights and fund all of the development, production, distribution and marketing for each title. According to Reuters, some Wall Street analysts predict this new line of animated home videos could sell as many as 1 million DVD units each.
MTV Names More Presenters for Movie Awards
More presenters have been announced for the 2004 MTV Movie Awards, which will be broadcast on the network June 10. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Vin Diesel, Paris Hilton, Ice Cube, Ashton Kutcher, Matthew Perry, Queen Latifah and Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans have been added to the list of previously announced presenters Snoop Dogg, Dave Chappelle, Kirsten Dunst, Eve, Jimmy Fallon, Kate Hudson and Scarlett Johansson. Lindsay Lohan, the 17-year-old star of Mean Girls is set to host the show, with musical performances by D12, the Beastie Boys and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
CBS Ends TV Season on Top
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Just for Laughs Festival Announces Lineup
Wayne Brady, Caroline Rhea, Tim Allen, Tom Arnold and Jackie Mason are among the comics scheduled to perform at Montreal's 22nd Just for Laughs Festival, which runs July 15-25. Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green and Mila Kunis, the voices behind the animated show Family Guy, will do a live script reading of the show, which has become one of the biggest-selling TV DVDs. The festival will also host the world premiere of Evil Dead 1 & 2: The Musical, a comedy based on the director Sam Raimi's campy horror classics. New on this summer's roster is Late Nite Down Under, a spotlight on the funniest acts from Australia and New Zealand, including performances by Colin Hay of '80s pop band Men at Work, and the North American premiere of James Campbell's stand-up comedy for kids ages 5 and older.
Role Call: Harrison Ford Takes To Outer Space with Goodspeed
Harrison Ford is set to star in Godspeed, an outer space-set thriller being put together by James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainmen