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.
The key to their success is the same one that fueled the success of the classic Warner Bros. characters and Matt Groening’s The Simpsons: the ability to appeal to several age groups at once. Kids laugh at the pratfalls and silly voices. Adults chuckle at the literary references, pop culture in-jokes, puns and innuendo coded just cleverly enough to go over children’s heads.
You can read the rest of Matt’s piece here at Salon.
Matt Zoller Seitz is TV critic for Salon and publisher of Press Play.