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.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Whatever happened to that wide-eyed, innocent, barely adolescent country girl who released the song "Blue" and shocked the world with her soulful voice? She turned into LeAnn Rimes. Sorry, let me clarify: she turned into the husband-stealin', Twitter-feudin', Real Housewife-hatin' LeAnn Rimes we know today. Sometime between 1996 and 2013 (okay, 2009), the spotlight on Rimes shifted from her incredible talent to her deplorable romantic choices. So much so that now, with a new album on the horizon, Rimes is still spending interviews talking about her infamous extramarital affair with her now-husband Eddie Cibrian.
Rimes sat down with Entertainment Tonight's Nancy O'Dell for an interview to promote her upcoming album Spitfire, due in Spring 2013. The conversation, however, rarely strayed from her infidelity. "Being that you've been honest that you've ever had an affair, do you ever worry about him cheating on you?" O'Dell asks. Rimes literally gawks — we're talking eyebrows pinched, head jerked back — at the question before saying, "I would be ignorant to say, and everyone else would think I am a liar if I didn't say yes, and I have at times."
When the two finally got around to talking about Spitfire — sorry, just kidding! They didn't talk about Spitfire; they talked about the one song on Spitfire that was written about an affair. But not Rimes' affair, it was about a friend's affair. "'What Have I Done' is one of the first songs that I wrote for the record, before anything was actually starting to happen," Rimes says. "It was written about a friend of mine, but I didn't realize I was writing it for myself at the time... It was my subconscious talking and I didn't know yet." Uh-huh, sure, LeAnn.
Okay, let's throw Rimes a proverbial bone and decide to believe the song was really about a friend. Because the subject of the song is not really the important thing here, it's the subject of the interview — and of every interview — that is so bothersome. The heart of the matter is that LeAnn Rimes loves to talk about her affair. And she needs to stop. She really, really needs to stop.
Continuously bringing up her affair is, at the very least, tacky and classless. And at the most, it is incredibly painful. Affairs are wretched things. They tear apart families, they deeply wound those you once love, and they make it incredibly difficult for the perpetrator to regain the trust of those close to them. Does Rimes consider her ex-husband, Dean Sheremet's feelings? Does she feel remorse for the pain she inflicted upon another woman, Cibrian's ex-wife Brandi Glanville? She must not, because if she did, she would be much more reluctant to absolve herself of blame. Affairs are messy, humiliating, and heartbreaking — for everyone involved. So then, why does Rimes insist on discussing hers?
While reporters may continue to question Rimes about her romantic past — and we know they will, as juicy cheating headlines make for clicky articles — no one is forcing Rimes to answer the way she does. Instead of providing sordid admissions such as, "Speaking for [Eddie], I would actually say [the thought of me cheating] has creeped into his mind," Rimes could choose to plead the fifth. To say, calmly and maturely, "You know, this was a very painful situation for many people. I would like to respect their privacy and let it go." And that would be that.
Rimes' ET interview is below. May it be the last time she talks about her affair (please, please, please....).
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: Judy Eddy/WENN]
Remember That Time LeAnn Rimes Was Famous For Singing? We Can't Either.
Brandi Glanville Quits LeAnn Rimes Twitter Feud Just As It Gets Annoying
Dear Bravo, It's Time to Make LeAnn Rimes a Real Housewife
From Our Partners:
The Cutest Celebrity Kids! (Celebuzz)
Craziest Celebrity Swimsuits (Celebuzz)