Picking up precisely from where 2011's The Muppets left off, James Bobin's even funnier Muppets Most Wanted thankfully focuses more on the original characters. (Young Walter is along for the ride, but no longer motivates the story.) Shady new manager Dominic (Ricky Gervais) replaces Kermit (Steve Whitmire) with evil lookalike Constantine (Matt Vogel), and books the Muppets on a tour of European theaters adjacent to art museums, all the better for Dominic and Constantine to burgle art. Meanwhile, the real Kermit is stuck in a Russian gulag run by song-and-dance aficionado Nadya (Tina Fey, yay!), and that's a detail worth considering: Much of Muppets Most Wanted takes place in a political prison system that was on the wane before the original Muppet Show debuted in 1976. Cold War references are a weirdly bold move for a 2014 family picture, but it works, and there are all the songs, inside-showbiz jokes, and celebrity cameos one might hope for from a prime Muppets film. (Danny Trejo is quite the hoofer!) It's also refreshing to see actual objects on screen; there's some trickery here and there, but the majority of Muppets Most Wanted is real puppets interacting with real people in front of cameras, and that's far more satisfying than, say, CGI representations of plastic bricks.
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