Starring Melissa McCarthy and Elizabeth Banks, the action/comedy/crime flick, The Happytime Murders tells the story of a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet who takes on solving a “whodunit” case wherein the puppet cast of a popular 1980s children’s TV show are being murdered one by one. The case reunites this former detective and his former human partner from the force (McCarthy).
Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson’s (creator of the Muppets), directed this film whose puppets venture so far from the image of “the Muppets” it is shocking. But in its attempt to shock, someone failed to add more humor. Even though not billed as a straight comedy, once the absurdity wears off there are very few genuine laughs to be had.
The acting (by the humans) wasn’t bad, but neither was it good. Nobody expects Shakespearean efforts here, but just to indulge oneself in silliness is not enough to carry a film most times, and it certainly isn’t enough here. The Happytime Murders feels like a high school film project with wasted puppet masters. I love Melissa McCarthy on Mike & Molly and when she hosts SNL, but I find her movies underwhelming and The Happytime Murders did absolutely nothing to change that opinion. (I personally wouldn’t pay to see her in a movie. Thankfully, this one was a freebie. I’m not saying I will never see another movie with her in it again, but she (even with all her comedic talent) is pushing me dangerously close to that point; and I thought I had enough with Ghostbusters…) She has one more chance before this relationship will be permanently severed. Somebody better call her and let her know. Okay? This comedy thing may be working to the tunes of millions of dollars for her, but I’m dissatisfied. (LOL!) Seriously, maybe it’s time for her to try something dramatic or a horror movie or something. THAT I would pay to see, because I believe she has it in her.
The puppetry was the absolute, hands-down best part of this film. With the exception of those who are frightened by them or the few folks who may find them annoying, who doesn’t love puppets/Muppets? I always find the craftsmanship that goes into creating a puppet, animating it and then filming that animation impressive. The Happytime Murder puppets are very funny, although puppets have that advantage, don’t they? They can be funny without trying very hard, or without the dialogue being very well written or witty, just because they are puppets. The set design was also very well done, of course, because things had to be scaled to cater to the size of puppets.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie isn’t all bad. It definitely makes a statement about societal discrimination, fame-whoring/the selling of one’s soul to remain relevant, and the tragedies that befall washed up celebrities, and there is even a good twist at the end; but the potential for comedy was wasted on over-done, juvenile, toilet humor. (And mind you, this is coming from a woman who gave Sausage Party 8 out of 10 bloops! I still stand by that review, by the way, although I’ve never given Sausage Party a second view and I believe once was enough. At any rate, I say all of this to say, when reading reviews, consider the source.) If you look at The Happytime Murders more from the angle of being a sort of a buddy-cop movie, like 48 Hours or The Nice Guys, you may like it better than going in looking for a comedy. Even then, the story is cliché.
Some of the action is pretty entertaining, but there is a much more amusing fight scene featuring puppets in season 5, episode 14 of Angel, titled Smile Time, where Angel is transformed into a puppet and attacks Spike. That’s what I wanted – to see truly evil puppets – not sex starved, junkie, foul-mouthed, dirty, pathetic puppets/Muppets. (I can’t even believe I am writing this. How silly do I feel? Very. But not as silly as this movie. Enough with this already. Let’s wrap it up, shall we?)
The Happytime Murders earned 5 out of 10 bloops. Unfortunately, it didn’t do it for me. I tried. Don’t let the hour and 32 minutes running time fool you. That is still an hour and 32 minutes of your life you won’t be able to retrieve. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Of course, depending on your sense of humor, you may like it better than I did. The best part of The Happytime Murders takes place when it is over, during the credits, which almost made it worth-while. Almost.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing/reviewing next…
Crazy Rich Asians
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You
Avengers: Infinity War
You Were Never Really Here
A Quiet Place
Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time
The Florida Project
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
I Am Not Your Negro