While not as bad as some are making it out to be, it’s definitely not for everyone.
Synopsis: No Sesame. All Street. THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS is a filthy comedy set in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist. Two clashing detectives with a shared secret, one human and one puppet, are forced to work together again to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show. (VVS Films)
Starring: Melissa McCarthy. Bill Barretta, and Maya Rudolph
Writer: Todd Berger
Director: Brian Henson
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 91mins
After all the trailers and other advertising for this film, what to expect here should be rather clear at this point. Fans of comedies on the raunchy and stupid side will find plenty to enjoy here while others will probably not bother to see this which is fine. The big gimmick with this film is its use of puppets. In this respect, most will surely agree that the puppets and the puppeteering behind them were the best part of the film but most will also disagree with how they were used here. A world full of puppets is a fun concept and the film tries to grasp at deeper social commentary using the puppets, however, it will just be lost most viewers as it almost didn’t make sense when paired with the raunchy humor.
The story plays out like a standard buddy cop movie while not innovating on the concept whatsoever. It pairs two former partners, one human and one puppet, detective Connie Edwards (McCarthy) and former detective now private investigator Phil Phillips (Barretta). The story’s unoriginal nature makes it more on the predictable side. Forced to team up to investigate the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show, the two would rehash their contentious past with a lot of raunchiness sprinkled in along the way. This film is definitely not for kids as it definitely earns its 14A/R rating. Most of it was shown across the film’s many trailers but it could have gone further.
Despite the film’s derivative nature, it was still fun to watch because of the chemistry between Edwards and Phillips. The funniest moments in the film are when they riff off each other though there just wasn’t enough of it. Because of the film’s short running time, clocking in around 90 minutes, most of the focus was on the case itself which left little time for character development. The main point of the film seemed to simply to be as raunchy as possible but the problem with this was that not all of it worked. The fact that it was puppets grew old quickly. The film would have been much better served finding a better balance between all of its elements.
The acting was okay across the board. McCarthy as Edwards was another over the top character she has played countless times in other films. However, Edwards stands above most, if not all, of these characters which is not particularly a high bar as she did never went too far with her character and wasn’t insufferable to watch. Barretta was great as Phillips, stealing the majority of the scenes from McCarthy. Rudolph as Phillips’ assistant Bubbles also stole scenes with some fun lines. Unfortunately, Joel McHale and Elizabeth Banks were present but were both wasted.
Overall, what shouldn’t have worked on paper still managed to surprise. Sure, not everything worked and its gimmick got tiring but it was still a somewhat enjoyable buddy cop movie and a decent 90 or so minutes in spite of its derivative story thanks to some good performances, including a decent performance from Melissa McCarthy, and some excellent puppeteering.