Set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist, detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) teams up with her puppet partner, Phil Philips, to find out who’s behind a series of puppet murders. From Brian Henson, the son of Jim Henson and director of The Muppets Christmas Carol and Muppets Treasure Island, comes the least kid-friendly puppet movie ever made. THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS is a hilarious and outrageous R-rated comedy unlike anything you’ve ever seen, starring the very funny Melissa McCarthy alongside comedy all-stars Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale and Elizabeth Banks.
What We Thought:
I like the idea of The Happytime Murders, but for some reason, the film was missing something for me. I found myself laughing at jokes, but it just wasn’t the full-blown laugh riot I wanted it to be.
First off, it gets a ton of originality points. Sure there are puppets in this movie, but it is 100% NOT a movie for kids. Parents brought kids to the screening the other night and I just shook my head at how little people pay attention to things. Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson) directs a movie that sees puppets having sex, doing drugs, being killed and much more. This is a gritty, noir-ish film, it’s not for kids despite the furry creatures.
It mixes puppets with live action humans. In this world puppets exist but seem to be more like 2nd class citizens. They hold jobs, act, drive, etc., but they are discriminated against and looked down upon. I think one of my issues with the film is, we are thrown right into this world without much backstory, then we get this murder spree and get right into the investigation with the lead puppet character and Melissa McCarthy’s character. We don’t know anyone, why we should care or anything. The film is short, around 90 minutes-ish, and usually that’s a positive in my book, but I think another 15 minutes or so would have helped. Here’s this world, here’s these characters getting killed, surprise twist, explanation, end. Crime noir (with or without puppets) should take a bit more time to develop.
I can admit I did laugh at a bit of the movie but I left the theater wanting more. Melissa McCarthy did her typical fall down/over the top routine which she doesn’t have to do. She’s a much better actress when she’s not being physical. Maya Rudolph steals all her scenes as usual. Elizabeth Banks shows a new side of herself. Joel McHale plays the fed everyone loves to hate. The puppet characters were good but that’s a given coming from anything associated with a Henson. So I don’t know what I would change/add to the film, but I do know it’s missing something. More development of the world/characters? Maybe that’s what it is.
The Happytime Murders is a good attempt by Henson to try something drastically new. I give him a ton of credit for stepping out of the safe space of puppet land and going for an adult audience. I just wish I liked the movie more.
Cast & Crew:
- Melissa McCarthy
- Maya Rudolph
- Joel McHale
- Elizabeth Banks
- Director Brian Henson