Muppets Most Wanted review (Blu-ray)

Following up 2011's The Muppets – a massive worldwide hit, a simply wonderful film and probably the greatest comeback since Jesus – was always going to be a tough task. Modern cynics say there is no longer a place for the Muppets in the morass of entertainment we have now, and this new film is getting quite a kicking. But the cynics are wrong.

Muppets Most Wanted is the eighth film starring the lovable misfits, but it's their first actual sequel – a fact acknowledged in the terrific opening number, which takes place immediately after the end of the previous film. Kermit and the gang are wondering what to do next when "celebrity agent" Dominic Badguy (Gervais) sidles up to them and suggests that the Muppets go on a world tour. So the gang heads off to Europe, little knowing that they are merely a front for the evil plans of Badguy and his boss – Constantine, the world's most dangerous frog – to raid a series of banks and museums.

It's a jolly little caper, along similar lines to 1981's The Great Muppet Caper. Constantine escapes from a Russian gulag and manages to switch places with Kermit. Strangely, the only Muppet that manages to notice the difference is Animal – not even Kermit's new Russian accent gives the game away! Meanwhile, the real Kermit is sent to Siberia and locked away under the watchful eye of gulag warder Nadya (Fey). And furhter meanwhile, the robberies taking place across Europe are being investigated by the team of CIA agent Sam the Eagle and Interpol officer Jean Pierre Napoleon (Burrell).

First, the (slightly) bad news. Muppets Most Wanted lacks the nostalgia and sentimentality of The Muppets. And the songs are not quite as toe-tapping and memorable as that earlier movie – with the exception of the opening number, We're Doing A Sequel (which references this film's original title, The Muppets ... Again). But everything else you would want from a Muppet film is present and accounted for. In fact, there are more Muppets on screen this time than there were in The Muppets – there is a Muppet in every scene. And the central story is more about the Muppets, and less about a couple of humans, this time. It's true that this story is more about what happens to Kermit than the others, but is that such a bad thing? After all, he is still the ORIGINAL Muppet (and, for mny of us, the best). We do get The Muppet Show, on stage in Berlin, madrid and Dublin, with wonderful guest stars such as Waltz and Hayek. And we do get cameos throughout the film. Lots and lots and lots of celebrity cameos – most of them of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it variety.

Bobin is back in the director's chair, and this time he cowrote the (very funny) script with Stoller, who wrote The Muppets with Jason Segel. For genuine Muppet fans, there is so much to love and enjoy here, and very little to nitpick about. So ignore the naysayers – Muppets Most Wanted is a terrific comedy caper with all the old gang present and accounted for, plus some fun turns from the human guest stars. And yes, even Gervais is good.

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Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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