Simple Review- A nightmare on Sesame Street
There was a time in cinema history, in which Jim Henson made a decision to push his puppeteering team into new directions. He made two movies that stepped outside of his family friendly creation, The Muppets. Henson made ” The Dark Crystal” and ” Labyrinth”, films that pushed the creative envelope of what could be done with puppets, and the stories, and worlds, that could be imagined. Now in 2018, Jim’s son Brian, tries to push that boundary in a new direction, with his film “The Happytime Murders.”
Before I dive into this review, I just want to say that I really took one for the team on this one. Just know I did it for you! Now, I am no hero, just a simple man willing to suffer so that you, my faithful reader, do not have to.
I went into ” The Happytime Murders” with hope that this movie would go in one of two directions. Best case scenario, this would be a foul mouth subversive movie along the lines of ” Team America”. Worst case scenario, it will have a ton of puppets making a ton of dirty jokes to amuse my inner 15 year old. To put it bluntly, this ain’t “Team America” and my inner 15 year old even hated this movie! Through most of this movie all I could think was how could this many funny, and creative, people sleep at night knowing they released this flaming bag of dog poop onto innocent movie goers?
The plot of this one follows a private detective, Phil Phillips, as he tries to solve the murders of the cast of a popular T.V. show. The catch, in case you haven’t seen the trailers, is the Phil is a puppet. The world set-up here has a city where puppets are real and walk among normal humans. Puppets are looked down upon, and treated with a harsh racism. Phil is forced to partner with a human police detective, Connie Edwards, played by Melissa McCarthy, to find the killer. The pair go through various seedy puppet slums tracking down former cast members to protect them. It is a very similar plot to a film about a rabbit named Roger.
I will try to start with the positives for this one, since I am just a glass half full kid of guy. Maya Rudolph is the one bright spot, as Bubbles, Phil’s secretary. She actually made me laugh during her few times on screen. What else can I say? The air conditioning in the theater was working perfect, and felt great on this warm summer day. The popcorn was quite tasty. It was a mercifully short flick. Ummmm….ummmmm…. yeah that’s about it.
On to the negatives, I know that’s what you really want to read about, you sickos. This movie is just not that funny, and that’s a bad move for a film that is supposed to be a comedy. There are maybe three scenes that I actually laughed at, and, if you have seen the trailers, you’ve seen two of them. The movie tries to inject a ton of “adult” humor into the story that just doesn’t work at all. Don’t think I am some one that can’t laugh at a good dirty joke, or I am offended easily. Far from it, but this movie has jokes and scenes that just fall flat, or go on so long you can actually see them beating that dead horse. Poor thing, but at least the horse was put out of its misery. The puppet characters are all so unlikable and just there to be put in sexually awkward, or drug induced scenarios. I mentioned ” Who framed Roger Rabbit?” earlier, and what made the comedy in that movie work was that the toons had an innocence that was forced to face realities of a human world. Here, the puppets are already sleazy characters, reflecting the worst human behaviors. It just isn’t funny after the first time you see a puppet do a drug, or have sex.
The human characters didn’t fair much better. I really hoped this would be funny because I love R-rated Melissa McCarthy. She has such a sweet, mid-western look, that when she fires off the vulgarity, it cracks me up. She tries in this one, but there just aren’t too many jokes that hit the mark. I really hope she gets a better movie to show case her talents in, because her last few movies have been misses for me. The rest of the cast, outside of Maya Rudolph, just phone it in. Which sucks, because there are some legitimately funny people in this movie. Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, Leslie David Baker and Michael McDonald, I hope you enjoy whatever the paycheck from this movie bought!
To end this rambling review, I recommend skipping ” The HappyTime Murders.” If you need to see a puppet movie with a ton of gross out humor,and a smart satirical look at the world, watch ” Team America” to get your fix. Brian Henson, try harder to follow the path your father set before you. You are better than this.
As always, thanks for your time.
The Movie Psycho