Puppets. You just gotta love them. But that love takes a twisted turn in The Happytime Murders as some very R-rated goodness comes into play and after seeing this movie, well, you might not ever look at a puppet in the same light again.
In a world where puppets coexist with humans, but are reviled by society and considered inferior, puppet private investigator Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) reunites with his ex-partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) to find a serial killer who murdered Phil’s brother. The killer is now targeting the cast members of the 1980s television series The Happytime Gang, and Phil’s former flame, Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), is next on the list. It’s up to Phil and Edwards, to find the culprit and solve “The Happytime Murders”…before it’s to late.
Director Brian Henson, son of the legendary Jim Henson, delivers up a film of gross out goodness here as he takes the idea of puppets, those cute, colurful dancing creatures we all grew up with and spins them into a dark and seedy underbelly in The Happytime Murders. Henson pushes the limits of R-rated comedy here and withing a minute of watching this film you’ll be howling with laughter at just how extreme it all gets.
Hansen and his team don’t hold back here and while these genius puppet makers would normally showcase fun loving stories here they offer up and grungy detective tale that really pushes the boundaries. The humour in The Happytime Murders really comes from the most unexpected of places and I certainly didn’t expect the laughs that we got here. This is absurdist humour from right out of left field and it will really have your funny bone ringing.
Melissa McCarthy once again shows off her comedic chops and proves that she can certainly get creative when it comes to the use and construction of swear words. As Detective Connie Edwards she’s a by-the-book cop who sometimes forgets to follow the rules and when you add a good dose of sugar she really goes nuts. Whether it’s a string of non-stop expletives or when she is willing to bust up some puppet thugs with broken bottles and a whole lot of attitude, McCarthy really cranks out the funny here.
While Melissa McCarthy is always a top performer for me it was Maya Rudolph as Bubbles who really stole the show here. She’s got a thing for her boss Phil and is thoroughly quirky. Her performance is really unscripted and has a great use of ad-libbing. I’ve also got to praise Bill Barretta as central puppet PI Phil Phillips, he’s a master of his craft and really brings Phil to life and the mischief and craziness that he gets up to alongside McCarthy, who proves she has a real sweet tooth…with hilarious results is pretty fun to watch.
The Happytime Murders is a real change of direction for the art of puppeteering and I think Brian Hanson has done his dad proud with this one. While he was known for creating The Muppets and Sesame Street Jim Henson also had a really absurdist sense of humour and liked to push the boundaries, especially in some of his more early cult works and The Happytime Murders pays homage to this. It serves up a particular brand of crazy and it had me in stitches with what was presented up on screen and I think Jim Henson would have definitely been proud.
If you’re looking for your boundaries to be pushed and are up for a serious sugar rush then The Happytime Murders is a film you should check out. Funny, crazy and with plenty of kick to it, The Happytime Murders really knows how to push the funny.
Image: Roadshow Films