This is actually one of the reasons I was concerned about this movie being a "sequel" and then going and doing it's own thing. If it's a sequel, people will ask "hey, where's Gary and Mary" and complain that it doesn't really follow the last story, and if you look at it, no family films EVER follow the story of the last movie. The Muppets probably did a great job in living up to the last film.
How could people be negative to the Muppets? Who are these cold-blooded, vicious, sour people? Have you no shame?
I've been thinking about this one, and on one hand I guess I can see where the confusion arises. For its entire production term, the film was (awkwardly) titled "The Muppets... Again!", and apparently that is still present in the movie. ("We're Doing a Sequel" has the Muppets actually title the movie that in the lyrics, which then hysterically smash cuts to... not that title at all!) Not only that, but the film starts immediately at the last scene from the previous film, retains Walter who is introduced in the previous film and continues the idea of the Muppets going around performing The Muppet Show, instead this time it's around Europe. So on the surface it sure as heck seems like a bonafide sequel, but obviously the main plot focuses somewhere entirely else.
So I guess you have a bizarre disconnect for critics, who aren't sure what to make of it all. From what I can see, Stoller and Bobin are pretty much trying to have their cake and eat it too, by appeasing to Disney and delivering something that somewhat resembles the first film ("More of the same" is Disney's go-to franchise-ready slogan, and of course is in the opening song), but is also its own thing. It speaks bizarrely about our culture who whined incessantly about The Hangover Part II being quite literally the same dang movie, but apparently demands their Muppet sequels to once again be emotionally-heavy sobfests with Jason Segel crooning with puppets. Nothing against the 2011 film, but it did its thing well and but really there's no need to repeat it.
Honestly I'm surprised that only one review actively compared it to GMC, which seems to be more of the spiritual predecessor. That's the one I'd trust, even if it is negative. This seems to be a happy-go-lucky, zany Muppet movie and I couldn't be more excited. I want it to succeed badly to get the coveted third film (which would make three trilogies of Muppet movies for three different generations), so here's hoping the reviews stay good!