So, I saw it last night... and as much as I enjoyed it, something seemed missing. For a devoted fan like me, I believe the missing piece was the emotional impact that many of the great Muppet movies have had. Don't get me wrong, MMW was definitely fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone with kids, to keep the legacy alive. There was plenty of in-joke meta humor, sight-gags, visual puns (Christoph Waltz cameos as himself, dancing the Waltz with a bear), like the last one (and so many before that), which I love. There were references to previous movies (including nice plot AND song callbacks to The Muppets Take Manhattan - one of my favorite Muppet movies ever), and characters (Rizzo and Kermit's nephew Robin get a fun moment). And maybe it's just because the first movie of the Muppets reboot was SO damn good, and contained such incredible levels of nostalgia, but for long-time fans like myself, MMW didn't connect with me quite as well.
One big missing piece of the puzzle from the last movie, though, is Jason Segel. Even though this was written by Nicholas Stoller, Segel's writing partner in the first movie, the dialogue and the jokes sometimes fell a little flat. Segel's obvious deep-seeded love and fandom of the Muppets showed through in his script, and that same level of love wasn't here. Plus, Segel as Gary in the first movie, just brought a lot of on- screen fun with him. But of course, I understand that the Muppets don't typically have any permanent human counterparts, so if he had just continued writing on this one, I'd have been happy.
The songs were cute and fun, but nothing here nearly compares to the last film's soundtrack. Nothing catchy enough to stay in my head, like 'Man or Muppet' or 'Life's a Happy Song' were. No emotional punch like 'Pictures in My Head' was. I'm afraid that Bret McKenzie will not likely be able to continue his streak of Best Song Oscars. One of the more fun musical highlights, though, was Constantine's (the villain - who was just basically Kermit with a mole and ... a frog in his throat *rimshot*) off-handed seduction of Miss Piggy in one of his (THREE!) songs, "I'll Get You What You Want".
The human co-stars of the movie were Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais. All three shine in their scenes, and all seem to be up for all the fun of your typical Muppet movie, but Fey really stood out in her song "In The Gulag". She plays an over-the-top stereotypical Russian guard, keeping Kermit under lock and key for being mistaken for Constantine (the World's Most Dangerous Frog!), complete with Kermit, at one point, wearing a "Hogan's Heroes"-style hat. The rest of the human cameos were really fun, too. Hobo Joe re-cameos in this one, a carryover from the first movie. There's a cute surprise cameo at the end of the movie. The other standout amongst the cameos for me was Danny Trejo, who at one point, late in the film, you realize is playing... Danny Trejo, the Russian gulag prisoner, which I found to be immensely hilarious. A lot of the cameos are 'blink and you'll miss 'em', though. So the movie does have some rewatchability value for me, at some point.
The last thing I'll point out here is that there seemed to be a lot of Muppet cameos as well. MANY different older generation Muppets show up as background characters, so it was fun to play 'Spot the Familiar Muppet' throughout the film. My favorite was the Muppet Newsman, who unfortunately, had nothing bad happen to him.
So overall, I think the Muppet legacy has a great chance at continuing their legacy, and I think the last movie gained a lot of new young fans of the franchise, who will all enjoy this one immensely (since kids don't really have the same sort of emotional attachment to the Muppets that I might). I enjoyed the movie greatly for what it was, but am slightly disappointed in the movie for what I thought it could be. I look forward to the next movie, and may actually go back and give this one another chance, to see if maybe I misjudged it the first time around. Sometimes Muppet movies are like that... they take a second viewing to really appreciate the more subtle humor elements, catch some of the sight gags you might have missed the first time around, etc.
If any of you were planning to go this weekend, please don't be swayed by my review here to convince you otherwise. Go see it! And please come back and tell me how wrong I am. I'd love that, more than anything.