A Parent’s Guide to ‘Muppets Most Wanted’
Since their creation by Jim Henson nearly 60 years ago, the Muppets have been beloved by generations of children and parents. In Muppets Most Wanted, their eighth theatrical release, these iconic characters go on a whirlwind European adventure.
Going all the way back to their first television show, a hallmark of the Muppets has always been that they are entertaining for kids and adults alike, with smart, family-friendly humor, original songs and parodies, and cameo appearances by the stars of the day. Muppets Most Wanted is no exception.
Opens: Friday, March 21, 2014
Director: James Bobin
Rating: PG for some mild action
Run time: 112 minutes
Is it good?
Muppets Most Wanted picks up where The Muppets (2011) left off—literally. The film opens on the closing scene of the last movie, with a clever song acknowledging the sad truth of sequels—namely, that they don’t usually measure up to the first one. Muppets Most Wanted comes pretty close to breaking that rule.
The movie features great performances from its stars, both human and Muppet, hilarious moments, and some great songs. Kids will love it, and adults will likely find that it’s smart and funny enough for them to enjoy too. Longtime fans will be happy to see that unlike the 2011 movie, the focus here is back on the main Muppets, with human characters and new Muppet, Walter, playing supporting roles.
What’s it about?
Following the success of their last film, Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), a smooth-talking Hollywood agent, books the Muppets on their first world tour. But as his last name would suggest, he’s up to no good. Badguy is actually working for Constantine, “the world’s most dangerous frog,” who bears a striking resemblance to Kermit.
When Constantine switches places with Kermit, none of the Muppets are the wiser, and Kermit finds himself thrown in a Siberian gulag, run by Nadya (Tina Fey). Sam the Eagle and an Inspector Clouseau-esque Interpol agent called Jean Pierre Napoleon—played by Modern Family’s Ty Burrell—are working to solve the string of crimes that seems to follow the Muppets from city to city.
What parents should know:
Parents should know that this Muppet movie, like the last (and the Muppets’ six previous theatrical releases) has plenty to offer kids and adults. With no bad language and just some mild action and comic slapstick violence, the movie is appropriate for families with young children. However, parents with very young or particularly squirmy little ones should know that Muppets Most Wanted is on the longer side for a kids’ movie, clocking in at nearly two hours, and it does drag a bit in places.
Kids will like the jokes and songs, and will enjoy seeing their favorite Muppets, as well as new Muppet, Constantine, and his comically bad Kermit impression. Parents will enjoy the same, plus will appreciate a slew of blink-and-you-missed-it celebrity appearances and pop culture references that fly right over the kids’ heads.
The movie is also preceded by a new Monster’s University short called Party Central that kids and fans of Pixar’s Monsters series will enjoy.
Is it educational?
Muppets Most Wanted is pure entertainment, and certainly not intended to have educational value. Still, there are a few opportunities for some movie-inspired learning, as well as some themes families can talk about. For example:
- Constantine promises to give the Muppets everything they want. But what happens as a result? Is getting what you want always good? (Muppets Most Wanted producer Todd Lieberman believes Constantine offers a parenting lesson, saying: “It’s thematic of being a parent. You can’t give your kid everything because if you give them everything they get spoiled and realize they actually want boundaries.”)
- The movie takes the Muppets on a whirlwind tour of some of the most famous cities in Europe, with the action centered in and around several world-class museums, including the Tower of London and the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Thanks to the internet, you can follow in the Muppets footsteps and visit these sites virtually. The Museo del Prado has much of their gallery online.
- For more Muppet-inspired learning, Film Education offers some free downloads with discussion ideas, activities, writing prompts, and more.
Do you plan to see Muppets Most Wanted with your kids? Come back and let us know what you thought of it by posting a comment.
Images © Disney
Ashley MacQuarrie began writing professionally more than ten years ago and has covered education, technology, current events, pop culture, and other topics. A former homeschooler, she studied English and Film & New Media, graduating with a bachelor's degree from San Diego State University. Ashley has classroom experience working with children who have autism and other special needs. She has also tutored students from kindergarten through college and taught English to teens and adults at a language school in London.