And so our collective childhoods are laid to rest. But who gives a fuck?! Muppets going ape-shit, getting drugged out, and having sex!
The story looks like it’s about a serial killer going around murdering puppets and it’s up to two street cops to find out who.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Melissa McCarthy (LIFE OF THE PARTY , GHOSTBUSTERS , SPY , and upcoming films CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?  and THE KITCHEN ), Bill Barretta (MUPPETS MOST WANTED ), Maya Rudolph (LIFE OF THE PARTY, NUT JOB 2 , MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA , and SISTERS ), Joel McHale (TED  and SPIDER-MAN 2 ), and Elizabeth Banks (PITCH PERFECT 3 , MOCKINGJAY PART 2 , PITCH PERFECT , and upcoming films THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART  and CHARLIE’S ANGELS ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Brian Henson, known for MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND (1996). Penning the screenplay is Todd Berger, known for stuff I’ve either not seen or heard of. Composing the score is Christopher Lennertz, known for UNCLE DREW (2018), BAD MOMS X-MAS (2017), GREEK WEDDING 2 (2016), RIDE ALONG (2014), and upcoming films THE WAR WITH GRANDPA (2019) and UGLYDOLLS (2019). The cinematographer is Mitchell Amundsen, known for BAD MOMS X-MAS, RIDE ALONG 2 (2016), G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA (2009), and TRANSFORMERS (2007). Finally, the editor is Brian Scott Olds, known for LIFE OF THE PARTY and CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (2016).
Dude, I’m so looking forward to this movie. I have a strange feeling that McCarthy will be a hit and miss, funny sometimes, not funny others, but I think I’ll like this for the most part. Raunchy humor ain’t always my thing, but here’s hoping that it’s getting done right.
This is my honest opinion of: THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
Set in a world where puppets are harassed and mistreated. Phil Phillips (voiced by Bill Barretta) is a puppet private detective who used to be a cop, the only puppet cop ever, but due to a bad situation, he was kicked off the force. One day, a new client by the name of Sandra White (voiced by Dorien Davies) comes in with a case for him. He heads off to a porn video store and encounters a former puppet rabbit star from the popular 80s sitcom called “The Happytime Gang,” named Bumblypants. However, during Phil’s stay, Bumblypants it murdered by an unknown assailant and Phil becomes involved with homicide. Soon, more retired cast members from the Happytime Gang show get murdered and Phil is brought on as an adviser and is teamed up with his bitter former partner, Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) as they try to find the remaining cast and stop the continued string of murders.
God damn it, and I had such high hopes for this thing. Ugh, straight up, it’s not good.
I don’t know if it’s… as bad as the ratings make it out to be, but it’s not the most comfortable sit. The reason why I say that is because the trailer makes this movie out to be a comedy… and that it’s about Melissa McCarthy’s character. Thing is… I don’t think this movie was trying to be a comedy. It goes into how there’s a segregation that humans have toward puppets and how badly they’re treated. Phil, who the story really revolves around, and narrates throughout the movie, never really cracks a joke. Or… at least, I don’t think he was. You see the problem here? If the movie was trying to be a comedy, it failed because I rarely laughed. But if it was trying to be a serious thriller, it fails at that too because… well, it’s just not. How else do I even describe it? It’s not even really that the jokes aren’t funny, but rather there just aren’t any jokes to be found. In short, I think it takes itself almost too seriously. I don’t want it to sound like I’m describing a dark, neo-noir dramatic thriller or anything, but it’s bizarre how the only comedy to be found is in the trailer.
When you have a concept like this, puppets and humans coexisting, you have to do something with it and show us something different. For example, Phil having sex with Sandra and his semen is just white silly putty. That’s funny. But most of the other stuff that we see isn’t funny. Consider this, there’s a scene that takes place in a strip club and Elizabeth Banks is in her stripper outfit dancing for a bunch of puppets who are howling and cheering for her, throwing money at her, all that stuff. The puppets aren’t doing anything different than you would find in a real strip club. Just because they’re puppets acting like horny weirdos doesn’t make that funny in of itself. There’s no real creativity or cleverness behind the humor. If you were told that this was an R-rated muppets movie, what do you think you’d find? Puppets in strip clubs. But that’s the standard, the expectation. That’s not doing anything actually funny with the visual, and the movie is marinated in stuff like this.
I won’t lie, some things work. Like when Bumblypants has a shotgun pointed at him, he urinates glittery goo and, if memory serves, either he or someone comments that he’s probably getting off on the moment. This is funny because we already know that he has a crippling addiction to porn. There’s a bit where another puppet is found dead and he’s found completely wringed and twisted like a towel. That’s a fun and disturbing visual. We acknowledge that this is a gruesome, violent death, but it’s still funny because it’s just a puppet. But these moments are way too far apart from each other and everything else is just one joke: muppets that say “fuck.” And I do give credit where it’s due, the puppeteers do a great job and some of the CGI puppets (if that’s what they are) were pretty convincing, you can’t say that no one tried to make this good. It’s really the tone and writing that went down the shitter.
Can we also admit that much of the twist doesn’t make sense? I mean, okay, Sandra White is really that little girl who’s father was accidentally killed by Phil when he was an actual cop. However, here’s what bothers me. Why was she constantly seducing him and eventually have sex with him? I mean, I suppose in a darker movie that this was a complex mission of revenge turning into a fucked up romance, but the sex between the characters was completely unnecessary. Also, bullshit, Jenny (Banks) was dead. No, she got into that car, that car exploded, we saw a charred corpse in there. There is no way she could have faked that shit and with zero explanation. Literally, she shows up and she’s just alive for no reason. No bullshit twin sister, no hopping out of the car at the last second leaving behind a corpse in her place, I don’t fucking know, man, this shit was beyond stupid.
Overall, this was a colossal disappointment, though far from the worst comedy I’ve seen this year. Hell, even McCarthy wasn’t bad. At all. Too bad her performance is squandered on something that isn’t even funny. Terrible writing and tone, a plot that loses traction in the end, and is ultimately a total letdown. As a recommendation, man, I can’t say to see it. In theaters, or as a rental. I won’t say avoid it like the plague, but it’s just not worth the time and energy.
My honest rating for THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS: a weak 3/5
This week’s reviews
Next week’s reviews:
- OPERATION FINALE
- THE LITTLE STRANGER
- LET THE CORPSES TAN / LAISSEZ BRONZER LES CADAVRES
- YA VEREMOS / WE’LL SEE