Release Date: August 24th, 2018
Cast: Bill Barretta, Melissa McCarthy, Joel McHale, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph
Director: Brian Henson
Studio: Black Bear Pictures, Henson Alternative, H.Brothers, On the Day Productions, STXfilms
Distributor: STX Films
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Phil Philips, the main puppet played by Bill Barretta (seriously, they shoulda just used his real name), is a former cop, now a hard-drinking P.I. She’s his ex-partner, having him thrown off the force after a hostage situation gone bad. But now someone is murdering puppets and it’s up to them to get to the bottom of it.
Honestly, yes, it is silly, and it is a basic noir plot. And yeah the human/puppet dynamic might remind you of Netflix’s Bright. While Bright tries to have a deeper message to its fantasy nonsense, Happytime Murders is all about goofs and damnit I laughed! I’m not above it!
The movie follows these detectives as they investigate who is knocking off the former cast of the in-universe TV show, The Happytime Gang. The show was the first positive depiction of puppets in the media and to see the cast getting killed off is decidedly bad press, especially as the show is about to enter syndication!
There’s money to be made here it seems…
While the writing is lackluster and the dialogue clunky at times, it does have some quality jokes and a modicum of plotting to get it through. The movie certainly isn’t about the plot or the representation of puppets as stand-ins for real-life racial minorities. It’s about the goofs.
The puppet-filled porn shop, the fact that puppets get high off sugary supplies, guzzling down syrup and snorting glittery sugar, that getting shot in the head ends them with an explosion of fluff.
I’m willing to admit it’s not even a particularly good movie, but I had a surprising amount of fun. While the initial puppets swearing shtick doesn’t do much, the later jokes and commitment to the puppets as puppets, not puppets as humans, makes for a good time. It is clear throughout that the creators had a blast making this movie, and the proof is in the credits. As the credits roll, we see puppeteers all covered in green working their asses off to make the puppets walk, talk, and, yes, fuck, just right.
The Happytime Murders is in theaters now, if you take a chance I hope you’re able to have a laugh. What more is there to say? It’s a simple sugary treat, hopefully, it doesn’t go too far and upset your stomach.