Why did some muppet green light this?


Man, this is grim.

The Happytime Murders is set in LA where puppets and humans live together but without much harmony, in a somewhat clumsy parody of racism. In this setting Phil Philips (voiced by Muppets regular Bill Barretta) is a disgraced ex-cop puppet – the first of his kind -drummed out of the force for an indiscretion and now making ends meet as a PI.

A fluffy gruesome murder scene, with Phil Philips in the middle of the action. (Source: Henson Alternative)

But someone is progressively bumping off members of “Happy Time” – an old muppet-style show on the Puppet Television Network featuring Phil’s old flame Jenny (Elizabeth Banks). When a murder hits home close to Pete, he teams with his old police partner Connie (Melissa McCartney) to catch the murderer.

The “Happytime” gang, featuring Jenny (Elizabeth Banks). (Source: Henson Alternative).

One problem with this film is that the concept – rude puppets – is not new: “Avenue Q” have done this way better on stage and “Team America: World Police” on film. So from the outset the content doesn’t really shock. But the worst problem is that for adults, the screenplay by Todd Berger is just NOT FUNNY ENOUGH. It’s a bad sign when you can count the moments you moved from a smile to a light chuckle on one hand:  just three times in fact (with the silly string scene, with the wringing-out scene (“look away”) and with a parody of a famous interrogation scene).

Puppets getting it on. (Source: Henson Alternative).

So, based on the ‘laffs-per-minute’ count, this is 90 minutes of my life I’d like back please.  Actually, if you cut out the regular swearing and came up with a suitable story about silly string, then – cartoon puppet violence and all – the kids might enjoy it much more!

Connie (Melissa McCarthy), high on candy. (Source: Henson Alternative).

The only other mildly entertaining aspect for me – which grudgingly earns it an extra half Fad – were the closing titles that showed how some of it was filmed.

McCarthy delivers much of the same shtick we’ve seen from her in all of her recent movie outings, which doesn’t really wash well with me anymore.  Banks is good as the love interest Jenny, but has little to do.  

Teaming up for a bust in the “middle of nowhere” with Melissa McCarthy. (Source: Henson Alternative).

It’s directed by Brian Henson, son of the late and great Jim Henson. I’m all for “experiments”, and I notice that this was released under the “Henson Alternative” brand, which is perhaps appropriate, but some experiments work and some just don’t.  I personally think this is one that doesn’t extend the Henson brand and needs to be quietly forgotten with a line drawn under it. 

Definitely NOT recommended.  If someone asks you to go to the cinema with them to see this, tell them to get stuffed!   

Fad Rating:  Ff.

Note: red band trailer.