With ‘The Muppets,’ Jason Segel Turns Back to Childhood

The trailer for the new Muppets movie looks uniformly charming, and I’m glad to see that Miss Piggy’s still a bit of a brawler:

But really, I think my most powerful interest in this, and in Jonah Hill’s 21 Jump Street reboot, is how nostalgia is functioning here. Jason Segel and Hill have been key, if not the single most important participants, in the creation of the movies that have defined the post-college years of my generation. Now that they have power, they’re continuing to make those kinds of movies, but they’re also rebooting and reconfiguring the cultural artifacts of their own childhoods.

Maybe that’s what happens when culture suddenly shifts and admits folks who are not conventional marquee idols to the ranks of reliable box-office draws. Maybe one of you, in this case Seth Rogen, goes out and stars in a superhero movie. But mostly, you fulfill all the fantasies you had when you were a kid, because who knows how long the moment will last. I think Segel might have the best chance of sticking around as a writer if not as an actor. Forgetting Sarah Marshall doesn’t have the critical cred of Knocked Up, but the scene where Kristen Bell explains why she left Segel’s character may be the best depiction of a woman in the Frat Pack’s ouvre, and I’ll be curious to see what his script for The Five-Year Engagement looks like.