Don’t hug me, I’m sca- bored. I meant, bored.
In a world where humans and puppets co-exist, a hard-boiled puppet P.I. and foul-mouthed human detective are partnered up to investigate the brutal murders of a former puppet TV show cast.
Whilst watching Melissa McMarthy and her puppet partner become embroiled in the case of the Happytime homicides, I myself was becoming embroiled in the curious case of this movie. How is it that a movie this bland and uninspired could also be so weird and ever-so slightly unique in whatever it was? Wasting a creative premise and unsuccessfully parodying the buddy cop and noir genres, The Happytime Murders can be seen as the filmmaker’s attempt to be a Who Framed Roger Rabbit spoof joint which instead devolves into a more Theodore Rex-type situation.
I guess the biggest con this movie had working against it is was the wasted opportunity. I remember seeing the first trailer for this movie and honestly being shocked and rather intrigued by what could be done with such an outrageous premise. As the tagline read “No Sesame. All Street.”, and so for that alone I was hoping for something raunchy and smart along the lines of Sausage Party. And although what we got was not quite the crap that was David Ayer’s Bright, The Happytime Murders still promised a cool twist on the crime genre by, like Bright, introducing an allegory-worthy class of second rate citizens, those being the puppets, to a world exactly like our own. But again, like Bright, The Happytime Murders were devoid of any real world-building or explanation behind the divide between humans and puppets. We, as the audience, are thrown into this bizarre and dumb universe with no clarification of what, who, why and where. We are just expected to roll with it.
Honestly, I did have some laughs in The Happytime Murders. Some of the interplay between McCarthy and Bill Baretta’s puppet, Phil Philips, was kind of funny. I genuinely liked McCarthy on a whole in this film, even going so far to say she outshun her puppet partner for the majority of the time. Maya Rudolph was also quite the delight to see perform, having some giggle-worthy little moments. But the fact I have to admit I enjoyed the human characters more than I did the puppet characters hurts this movie even more so. The puppets are meant to be the stars! They are meant to be the outrageous ones! So why in the hell did every puppet in this movie seem so tame and generic?
There is some interesting weight given to the central narrative of the film involving a past incident between Phil Philips and his partner, Detective Connie, whilst the villain also has some understandable motivations; but that does not change the fact how predictable this movie is. There were genuinely only two moments in this movie that shocked me, with the second moment only taking me by surprise because it made no sense whatsoever and also completely undid the tension of the first moment.
The Happytime Murders is also complete with unnecessary narration that tries lending to the noir genre, but instead sounds flat and boring. As my girlfriend said when we saw this movie together (I know, great idea for a date night right?), this movie only really panders to people with weird fetishes.
The most impressive element of the entire film was the actual puppeting, to which the end credits showed exactly how, through green screen body suits, puppeteers were able to move the awesome life-like puppets in this movie. And for that technique alone, I have to give The Happytime Murders at least some props.
Now I did not hate this movie and I don’t think it is terrible; I just consider it wasted potential and a movie more worthy of a Netflix release as opposed to a cinematic effort. I could not particularly recommend The Happytime Murders as it is not worth the money, but it does offer up some cool ideas that are not totally followed through with but at least acknowledged for future possibilities.
It’s just… why? Why is this movie not funnier? Why is it not raunchier? Why is it not smarter? Why does it not push the boundaries further? It’s just, kind of, boring. And that is disappointing. But whatever. Forget it guys, its puppet town.
The Happytime Murders sadly belongs in the… KINGDOM OF THE CRIMINALLY DULL…
- mOcean 2018, ‘The Happytime Murders (2018)’, IMP Awards, TMDb, viewed 26 August 2018, http://www.impawards.com/2018/happytime_murders.html (Featured Image)
- Mancini, V 2018, ”The Happytime Murders’ Is A Welcome Return To Simple Pleasures’, Uproxx, WordPress.com, viewed 26 August 2018, https://uproxx.com/movies/happytime-murders-review/