THE HAP­PY­TIME MUR­DERS

Grim Hen­son

SFX - - Reviews - James White

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.

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