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I loved the Muppets as a kid -- "The Muppet Show" is one of the few programs my parents' ambitious first-child rules about TV would allow -- and I remember them fondly. But I had misgivings about "The Muppets" going in, for two reasons. The first is that, while I like Jason Segel, he works better for me as a seasoning and not the main course.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 13, 2012 6:56 AM
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VIDEO SLIDE SHOW: The Muppets' greatest hits

After Jim Henson’s death, the Muppet troupe spent a couple of decades wandering the pop culture wilderness, trying but mostly failing to get in touch with the magic that once fueled their popularity. They got a big step closer two winters ago, when “Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody,” their first hit viral video, debuted on YouTube. This week they’ve got their first big-screen hit in almost three decades, “The Muppets,” written by and co-starring comic actor and Henson obsessive Jason Segel. “It bumbles along episodically from one thing to the next — hey-ho! — and captures the spirit of Henson’s ‘Muppet Show’ admirably,” writes my colleague Andrew O’Hehir.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 27, 2011 3:54 AM
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Jason Segel's THE MUPPETS proves it's time for Kermit & Co. to pack it in

In his effort to revitalize the brand, Jason Segel exposes his fondness for the Muppets as boldly as he exposed his naked body in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. No hidden agendas here, The Muppets is packed with full-frontal nostalgia that suggests not just Segel’s desire to relive the magic of yesteryear but also his fervent belief that the Muppets’ charms can cast an equally powerful spell today. The Muppets, which Segel co-wrote with Nicholas Stoller, opens with an outright appreciation of The Muppet Show and the not so subtle implication that Segel spent his childhood feeling as if the Muppets were part of his family. If you’re a hardcore fan and realize how much the brand’s spirit has strayed from its roots since Jim Henson’s death in 1990, this is exactly the kind of opening you want to see, and it’s equally encouraging when, not much later, Segel’s Gary and his brother Walter (a Muppet performed by Peter Linz) break into song. The film’s rousing opening number, “Life’s a Happy Song,” captures some of the cherished Henson-era optimism and sweetness in its title alone, and the lyrics have a casually playful absurdity to them that feels just right. But the capper is a massive dance routine at the end of the song, when the citizens of Smalltown, USA, come flooding into the frame to form a leg-kicking, jazz-handsing chorus, creating a spectacle that would rank among the all-time greatest Muppet moments if not for one small problem. None of them are Muppets.
  • By Jason Bellamy
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  • November 26, 2011 7:15 PM
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