In an era of epically fucked groupthink—the Congressional supercommittee, the Washington Redskins’ management, pretty much anyone involved with capitalism these days—Jim Henson’s Muppets are a reassuring cultural antidote. The original Muppet film (the first of nine, including last month’s The Muppets) follows Kermit the Frog as he journeys from humble beginnings to stardom, befriending other Muppets along the way. It’s a whirlwind origin tale, a buoyant film-within-a-film full of snappy one-liners, stellar music, undiluted goodwill, and Charles Durning as a deliciously conniving iteration of Colonel Sanders. The film also set the precedent for the character-actor cameos that have become a series staple. (Tip: Don’t go as Carol “Yeth?” Kane for Halloween. No one will know who you are.) The Muppet ethos is admittedly gee-golly naïve at times, but a cultural entity that values and rewards a well-meaning community is refreshing, even if it’s as rare these days as a frog playing banjo in a swamp.