STX ENTERTAINMENT (2018)
Director: Brian Henson
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Barretta, Leslie David Baker, Dorien Davies
Sexy puppets! Or more to the point, puppets that talk about sex and swear a lot.
And drink. And smoke.
That’s The Happytime Murders in a nutshell, really. Brian Henson, son of the legendary Jim, gives us a furry and raunchy tale propped up with Melissa McCarthy’s comedic talents that could have been either really good or really bad. As it turns out, it’s neither one nor the other, it’s just simply there.
Disgraced ex-puppet cop Phil Philips (Barretta) is dragged back into the game alongside his extremely resistant old partner Detective Connie Edwards (McCarthy) after a spate of puppet murders are all linked to an old TV show and a cash scam. Throw in a slinky puppet who approaches Philips for help with a ransom request, sugar/cocaine, incest and a boat load of semen and there’s your movie.
The Happytime Murders will be compared to Sausage Party and Who Framed Roger Rabbit and for good reason too. It straddles the vulgarity that Sausage Party brought and steals the story of Roger Rabbit to an extent – though the latter is a far better movie than the former and this movie. What this lacks, however, is consistent humour, any kind of bang and fizz and also anything of real interest. What it feels like is a missed opportunity at something very good.
If you’re expecting to be laughing out loud and gasping at the shock value on offer, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed (the major moments are in the trailer...). Surprisingly, the movie isn’t all that funny – sure, it has its moments – but many of the gags fell flat. Just like Sausage Party, the vulgarity and language becomes increasingly unfunny as the story unfolds and most of the jokes are drawn out and overlong, which helps nothing. The constant allusion to Detective Edwards being a man did raise a smile on each occasion, though. The voice acting is just fine and McCarthy does what she can to lend some quality to proceedings.
The intrigue here is in the puppet/human team up and the story takes a back seat. It’s a shame as there really was something here to build upon had Henson got it spot on, the dynamic between the fuzzies and the humans feels good and the mystery aspect is there, it’s just not that good. Not entirely funny and not particularly engaging - it’s not an awful movie by any stretch and it’s certainly not a great movie, it just settles very much in the average zone. Stick with Bob Hoskins and the rabbit.
August 27th 2018