The Happytime Murders
Director: Brian Henson.
When I first caught a glimpse of this, my initial reaction was disbelief, thinking that it might be just a skit from Saturday Night of something similar; and upon further investigation, then realising this is actually a feature length motion picture from the same production team that gave us the muppets, but it’s not for kids, hell no. My reaction then was, YES!
Yup, it’s the same team from the makers of Sesame Street and The Muppets, even with the puppet master, Jim Henson’s son at the helm. But it’s not endorsed by the Sesame Workshop company, no; which is probably the funniest and most ingenious thing about this film. Something I’ll get back to shortly.
It’s been a project that’s been floating around for years but had remained untouched for obviously reasons. But when films like Team America: World Police and Sausage Party gain success, now is the time for an adult oriented muppet movie. It sounds like a funny and great idea right? But it’s not Sausage Party, and in style, it’s closer to Who Framed Roger Rabbit than it is to Team America. And it’s nothing new to the world of Muppets having real life humans star along side them.
Set in a fabricated Hollywood, where puppets and humans co-exist, where a puppet private detective, Larry, works with ex-partner LAPD officer Connie Edwards to investigate and catch a murderer who’s knocking off puppets from the Happytimes TV show. Now, there’s some obvious history between Larry and Connie who both reluctantly team up, and this provides some stuffing for the story so it’s not just a straight thread.
What makes this not kiddie friendly is how uncouth, rude and very ballsy. There’s plenty of F-bombs which are particularly hilarious coming from puppets, but that quickly wears off and gets lost. The whole film has banked on the idea of puppets behaving like everyday society without the kiddie friendly filter. This is where parallels can been drawn with Team America. They did it first.
McCarthy does her thing, but it’s a half-arsed performance, like she couldn’t be bothered or, at times I thought she was drunk! Barretta’s voice fits the character of Larry like a glove but I was expecting more, way more; and again the trailer possibly ruins the film by giving up some of best lines. It has it’s moments of laugh out loud laughter but that quickly fades away when I think there’s a bigger playing field of puns to be had here.
Now, the funniest thing about this film was the lawsuit that was filed against STX Productions by the Sesame Workshop company for alleged deformation to company reputation, not wanting to confuse or offend younger audiences and fans with this, and rightly so, obscene portrayal when using their trademark in their marketing campaign. Seems fair right? But let’s remind ourselves it’s the same team and Brian Henson, prodigal son of Jim making this film. And, the outcome gave me stitches when the presiding judge rejected the case and as a result, only reinforced their marketing with “NO SESAME, ALL STREET” and “From the studio that was sued by Sesame Street..." ingenious!
Sadly, that is the funniest thing about this film and whilst it does get a few laughs, it’s not enough to make this a great film and maybe Muppets should be left in the family section. It may have looked good on paper, shockingly good maybe, but it’s done now, a dream realised and was probably a lot of fun the make judging from the outtakes. But let’s leave it there.
Running Time: 6
The Cast: 5
Job Description: 6
The Extra Bonus Point: 0