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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The Muppets Review Roundup: "Like Getting a Big, Warm Hug"

After an ad campaign that entertained us for months, the reviews for The Muppets are finally in, and they're pretty uniformly positive. The movie has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and those worries about Segel not "getting" the Muppets seem unfounded. "The Muppets treats its titular heroes with affection and respect, even as Fozzie Bear shows off his 'fart shoes' and toilet humor abounds," says the Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen Rea.

The new movie upholds the feel-good tradition of the older Muppet movies. "At least half of my critical thinking went out of the window, overwhelmed by sheer nostalgia," notes Time Magazine's Mary Pols. It's "like getting a big, warm hug from friends who've been away far too long," writes Rebecca Murray of About.com. And the new Muppet, Walter, is "adorably insecure and a good addition to the house that Henson built," according to Betsey Sharkey of the LA Times.

Though Sharkey praised the film's "clever edginess," The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips saw instead a "jaded streak reflecting its makers' nervousness about selling Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the gang" to new audiences. Pols argued that "Segel and director James Bobin…wade in and out of their new Muppet story almost apologetically" and that the music is "a schmaltzy blur, songs of reflection and loneliness without enough jazzy numbers to provide a counter weight to the angst."

But maybe schmaltz is okay! The movie "makes no attempt to match the wisecracking hipness of the Shrek movies," warns Stephen Holden of the New York Times. "If it doesn’t provoke belly laughs, it elicits many affectionate chuckles." Tom Long of The Detroit News sums it up well: "Is it perfect? No. Is it a lot of fun and does it successfully revive this inspired franchise? Absolutely and let's seriously hope so. A world without Kermit is just too hard to face."