You’d think that the juxtposition of cute muppet-like puppets doing very adult things would pretty much be all you need to be funny, but it turns out, not so much. You actually need to put some effort into the context of the jokes.
For a film that should have been a full 90 minutes of funny, is actually only about the first 20 or 30 minutes. then it’s as if the writers just got lazy.
The Happytime Murders goes like this: When the puppet cast of an ’80s children’s TV show begin to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private-eye puppet takes on the case.This movie starts out solid. More or less a standard set-up for this kind of cop story, but the jokes about the puppets in the regular world, doing adult things, have a particular context. They do things that would be considered raunchy, but in a way that isn’t outwardly so.
As an example, in a scene in a porn shop, you see an octopus milking a cow. Ok, sure, the visual is an obvious X-rated reference, but it’s still just a cow being milked. Gags like that are pretty regular in the first 20 or so minutes, but then the jokes stop being implied and just get really blue. Eventually, they stop being funny and are merely tired and obvious. It really feels like the writers just stopped trying or couldn’t think of any more funny gags.
On top of that, the script just gets pretty cliche’. So in addition to the loss of witty bits, the story gets old.
As far as the cast goes, Melisa McCarthy is ok, but she’s reduced to the straight man reacting to the actions of the puppets. I will, however, say that Maya Rudolph is great as the secretary to puppet P.I., Phil Phillips. Phillips, who is voiced by Bill Barretta, is excellent as the hard boiled disgraced-cop-turned-P.I. In fact, all of the voice work for the puppets is great. Too bad most of the humans in this are not so good. Even Joel McHale as an FBI agent just isn’t all that inspired.
The Happytime Murders should have been WAY better than it is, especially since it’s directed by Brain Henson, son of the genius Jim Henson. Even though Jim Henson apparently was interested in doing more adult work with muppets (see the first couple seasons of SNL), he would not likely have been too pleased with this film. I know I’m not.
Even though the talk about town is that The Happytime Murders is going to end up on the ‘Worst of 2018’ lists, I feel that’s a bit exaggerated. There ARE some good laughs – most certainly in the first act. But it falls apart terribly as it progresses, soooo….yeah. Two kittenhands at most. It just isn’t good.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, really disappointed in this one.