THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
released out now! 15 | 91 minutes director brian henson cast melissa mccarthy, bill barretta, elizabeth banks, maya rudolph
Sharing some conceptual DNA with Peter Jackson’s infamous gross-out puppet comedy Meet The Feebles, The Happytime Murders takes the idea a step further and imagines a world in which humans and fluff-filled folk share the streets, but the latter are treated as second-class citizens.
With movies such as Feebles and Team America already out there, this one needed something extra to give it a reason to exist. Sadly, it only partially delivers that.
The racial commentary’s a little first-base, and the temptation to push the boundaries of puppet sex and violence rather than tweak them means the film ends up looking like a toddler that has just discovered poo jokes and is eager to try them out on you.
Yet it still manages to eke out some entertainment, pairing Melissa McCarthy’s Detective Connie Edwards with her former partner, disgraced-cop-turned-PI Phil Philips (veteran Muppeteer Bill Barretta, who gives his soft-nosed ’tec a De Niro grumble), and allowing both to find the laughs among the madness.
The plot’s a second thought at most, an undercooked LA noir tale that never quite nails the tone, but director Brian Henson (yes, Jim’s son, and a proven filmmaker when it comes to blending felt folk and humans) and his team show
It never quite nails the noir tone
enough invention that you don’t always see the cracks. They also keep things moving; at 90 minutes, the movie doesn’t outstay its welcome. Just don’t expect something with the bursting creativity of, say, the theatre world’s Avenue Q.
One sequence that didn’t make it into the final film was a bar scene featuring a bartender puppet with a singing penis.
He somehow always knew he’d end up as one of the boys in blue.