If you liked the Muppets but would like it to also have swearing, puppet sex and puppet drugs then you would probably would love this.
- Screenplay by Todd Berger (It’s a Disaster, Cover Versions)
- Directed by Brian Henson (The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island)
- Starring Melissa McCarthy (Ghostbusters, The Heat), Elizabeth Banks (The Lego Movie, The Hunger Games) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Tour de Pharmacy)
- Budget of $40m
Initial Thoughts 💭
The Happytime Murders is the sort of idea when you would tell people “I’ve got this great idea for a film….” and people say they love it. Directed by Brian Henson (whose father Jim Henson was the legendary creator of The Muppets) who previously directed ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ and ‘Muppet Treasure Island’, it had the possibility of being a great film. In reality, the finished product didn’t reflect the real potential of the film and unfortunately it was a bit of a fluffy mess.
The ‘ccc’ review💭
In a world where puppets and humans live together, but not necessarily equally, members of the once popular puppet show, “The Happy Time Gang”, are being targeted one by one by a serial killer. Disgraced puppet private investigator, Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) finds himself embroiled in the hunt for the killer, as his brother and former girlfriend were part of the gang, and is forced to cooperate with his ex-partner Melissa McCarthy to stop the killings before it is too late.
Puppets swearing and not behaving always has some potential. Take Team America – it had a great (but ridiculous) plot and a continuous stream of outrageous jokes, and it turned out to be a big success. The Happytime Murders, has a decent (but not ridiculous) plot, but the jokes just weren’t consistent enough. FYI, Cinema Club’s favourite swearing puppets were from ‘The Bronx Bunny Show’, a short lived E4 show aired in the noughties.
In ‘The Happytime Murders’, there were quite a few good one liners and some funny scenes, it was just a shame that the film couldn’t string a lot more of them together and thus resulted in fewer laughs than there could have been. The ideas were there but it never really hunged together and in some regard was like a sketch show – some scenes were funny and others were not – not a hallmark of a good comedy.
The plot wasn’t that bad, and it did turn out to be quite a good murder mystery (just with puppets) and we liked the fact that the film didn’t even bother explaining how puppets came to co-exist with humans and waste time doing the backstory. However, after initial promise where we thought the puppets would challenge the current inequality with humans , it ultimately became like any other normal buddy cop movie and the puppets were just a side note. Rather than being really odd and wacky. it felt that the puppets were just a like for like replacement for humans. Instead of blood it was fluff, instead of drugs it was sugar – and as a result felt like something we have seen before even though it was with puppets.
The film contained a numbers of big comedy actors including Melissa McCarthy (The Heat), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids), and Joel McHale (Ted). Melissa McCarthy was heavily utilized and did her utmost to keep the film moving, but Rudolph and McHale on the other-hand made nominal contributions. Feel like more could have come from them but we guess it must be difficult to act next to puppets against a green screen. The real stars are the puppeteers given the difficulty in delivering the lines. Characters to keep an eye out for are the lobster in the garbage can and Goofer – and stay behind for the end credits to see the effort and art that goes into creating this sort of movie.
Final Thoughts 💭
This film kind of flew under the radar coming into our cinemas and will probably fly under the radar leaving our cinemas. Parts were enjoyable, but Happytime Murders was unable to keep standards high for long. Can’t fault the artistry nor the puppeteers but overall we didn’t have the happiest of times watching it.
If you are tired of watching the Muppets Christmas Carol every year maybe give this a go instead.