The Letter of the Day is XXX in ‘The Happytime Murders’

by Christian Ramos on August 26, 2018

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Swiss Fist] 

Jim Henson is rolling in his grave. For the most part, the success of his Muppet creations has been a worldwide success since his death in 1990. Since that time, the Henson company has taken larger steps to appeal to all ages. Now his son, Brian Henson is back as director and creator of a fully adult Muppet inspired film, The Happytime Murders. It is a crass, crude, rude and lude neo-noir comedy that is sure to both shock the child in you from the years of Sesame Street and delight that weird humorous side all of us seem to possess.

The plot of The Happytime Murders felt all too familiar. In a world where puppets and humans live together, puppets are still chastised for being what they are. This all begins to change when puppet detective Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) gets caught in two cases: one with a young woman asking to investigate a blackmail case, and another where actors of a former television show, The Happytime Gang are murdered, most being puppets, and all being connected to a new financial wealth they’ll receive once the show goes into syndication. Phil realizes there is a hit against puppets and alongside his former partner Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) they work together, despite their differences and their past, to investigate and find the killer. A very simple plot, but I guess none of the main writers in the making saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit, because this is pretty much a puppet remake. Puppets (cartoons) and humans living side by side, solving murders. COINCIDENCE?

I think it feels good knowing that there is an adult oriented Muppet movie out there for people who have always been fans. As people grew up on Sesame Street, they can watch this and be stunned at the crass humor the Henson family can throw out there. Most of the humor of this film is in the trailer. Thankfully, these jokes still don’t fail while watching the movie. The human cast of Maya Rudolph as Philips secretary Bubbles and Leslie David Baker as the Lieutenant work well alongside Philips and McCarthy. The downside of the movie is when the jokes run out, it brings the movie down to a standard buddy cop comedy and the movie already feels a bit recycled, looking for jokes that just aren’t there. The main factor of this entire movie isn’t a deep theme or a significant life changing plot, but simply the shock factor of how dirty puppets can actually be. While it wants to be a great comedy with references many would understand, it oftentimes doesn’t work.

I myself grew up loving the Muppets and everything about them. I’m a huge fan of Avenue Q and Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles (though no relation) thus, adult humor via puppets is nothing new to me. The Happytime Murders may not be the best movie out there this year, but it’s a nice escape for ninety minutes to remember that you are an adult, your childhood is over and puppets do have sex like everybody else.

Christian Ramos is a recent graduate of KU with a B.A. in Film & Media Studies. When he’s not watching movies, he likes to brag about the pointless Oscar trivia he knows, remembers that time he dressed as Steven Spielberg for Halloween and shows off his tweet that Julianne Moore liked.

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