Sunday, August 26, 2018

Movie Review: "The Happytime Murders" (2018)

Director: Brian Henson
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

A string of puppet murders forces a puppet private investigator to team up with his old partner, a human cop with whom he had a falling out, to solve the mystery.

"I'm not squeamish, I just don't want to watch an 8-arm reach-around." (Image Source)
If you are someone who gets offended easily, "The Happytime Murders" is a movie you should definitely avoid. This film is directed by Brian Henson, the son of the late great "Muppets" creator Jim Henson. Brian Henson has directed such movies as "A Muppet Christmas Carol" and "Muppet Treasure Island," but rest assured, "The Happytime Murders" is in no way, shape, or form a film intended for kids. This movie takes place in a universe where puppets and humans live side-by-side, but puppets are often treated as second-class citizens. The story focuses on a private investigator puppet named Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta), who stumbles upon a puppet murder spree while investigating a different case. He is asked to team up with police detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) to investigate these killings. Connie and Phil used to be partners on the police force, but a falling out stemming from an incident in the line of duty led Phil to be fired. Because of his actions, puppets have been banned from being on the police force altogether. Now, the two will have to set aside their differences to solve these crimes.
"You two are equally not bags of shit." (Image Source)
We were actually looking forward to "The Happytimes Murders" since we are fans of the Muppets and love raunchy comedies that are done in a medium usually thought to be for kids. We really loved the smart satire and crude humor of movies like "Sausage Party," "Team America: World Police," and "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut." We had hoped "The Happytime Murders" would strive to reach the heights of these other titles, but alas, it falls drastically short. We have heard some critics call this one of the worst movies ever made, and we have to disagree with that statement. Yes, it is offensive, contrived, and derivative, but it is not without some laughs. We laughed a reasonable amount during the first half of the film, though it was a series of light giggles as opposed to massive guffaws (with the exception of one joke about a dog that absolutely cracked us up). Puppets doing kinky sexual stuff can be entertaining, but the novelty of fuzzy moppets doing dirty, crass things begins to wear thin as the narrative moves along its runtime. The longer the movie goes on, the less humorous it seems to get. As the laughs die down, the story needs to fall back on its noir-style mystery, which is both predictable and forced. It also feels like those behind the scenes endeavored to include some sort of commentary about race relations within the script, but this doesn't get accomplished all that well since all of the vulgarity overshadows any message it tries to have. While the voice cast and puppeteers do a good job, there's not much of note as far as the acting is concerned. Melissa McCarthy can be hit or miss with us, and we feel she misses the mark most of the time here. Joel McHale often plays a good asshole character, but as soon as he shows up, the film takes a noticeable nosedive. Elizabeth Banks doesn't get a whole heck of a lot to do here, which is a shame. The best member of the human cast is Maya Rudolph as Bubbles, Phil's sweet-and-naive-but-deadly-in-a-fight, high-voiced secretary. Rudolph makes some of the more excessive moments a bit more bearable.
"Nobody turns my brother into a chew toy and gets away with it." (Image Source)
Though "The Happytime Murders" isn't a total disaster, the final product left us disappointed. We wish this film had been smarter and/or wittier.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.1/10
RT Rating: ~23%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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