Frogmarching around the world

An enjoyable song-and-dance escapade

Muppets Most Wanted (G)

You find yourself getting worked up about the kidnapping of Kermit by ‘Europe’s most dangerous criminal’. About the fact that Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear don’t notice he’s been replaced by a Russian frog called Constantine. About Ricky Gervais trying to steal the Crown Jewels with a bunch of pretend baby-Muppets wearing balaclavas.

That’s what a Muppet movie does to you if it’s done right. And this one is. With bells on.

Okay, maybe the Dublin sequence could have been improved with an injection of Riverdance. (Muppetdance?) And I was never a great fan of Mr Gervais. But let’s suspend hostilities for the present venture.

He plays Dominic Badguy, the (surprise surprise) bad guy of the piece. He’s behind the Kermit kidnap and has ulterior motives in bringing the rest of the gang on a world tour where they take in Berlin, Madrid, London, Dublin and Siberia.

A song-and-dance escapade that has all the juice of a Busby Berkeley extravaganza and the film also finds time for cameos by Salma Hayek and Celine Dion. (But why does Dion let Miss Piggy sing My Heart Will Go Oninstead of doing it herself?) There’s even a 10-second slot with Saoirse Ronan.

Muppets Most Wanted has no trouble at all endearing itself to adults and children alike. My favourite sequence has Kermit putting the inmates of a Siberian gulag through their paces for some numbers that seem straight out of West Side Story or Fiddler on the Roof as they get in touch with their Inner Artist (an unlikely Ray Liotta is among their number).

There’s also a French Interpol agent (Ty Burnell) who drives a pint-sized car, wears a big badge and doesn’t like overtime. Oh, and a prison guard called Nadia (Tina Fey) who seems to be as tough as nails until we find out she harbours a secret fascination for Kermit.

For those of us who felt we’d need to go into therapy when The Muppets disappeared from the small screen all those years ago  this is a timely reminder of just how charming they were.

But will Miss Piggy marry the wrong Kermit? Or will the real one save her ‘bacon’?

That’s something else to get worked up about.