(On Cable TV, December 2012) Looking at the quasi-complete success of The Muppets, it’s hard to fully recognize the challenges that its writers and producers were facing in reviving the Muppets for the twenty-first century’s big screen: Would fond memories of the Muppets translate well in this ironic age? Would it be possible to ground the Muppets into a contemporary reality? What to do with the iconic characters? The first surprise of The Muppets is that it works. The second surprise is that it works really well, carefully balancing itself between opposing objectives. It’s self-aware without being ironic, sentimental without being sappy and self-deprecating without being sardonic. Writer/star Jason Segel deserves a lot of credit for spearheading this revival: his affection for the Muppets is obvious, and he lets them grab most of the film’s glory. The winks to the modern audience are frequent without being annoying, and the way The Muppets plays with familiar tropes is amusing without being too annoying. Groaners accompany wit and the familiar is combined with the new. It’s a great film for the entire family, and it should herald more Muppets in the near future.