Film Reviews
The Happytime Murders

Maybe you have to be in just the right mood to appreciate all that Brian Henson's "Happytime Murders" has to offer. And by "right," I mean most adolescent, most sophomoric, and raunchiest. Maybe you have to have had a rotten, horrible, no good day and need to laugh at the ridiculous.

And by "ridiculous," I mean, puppets being blown away. As in, killed. As in, the fluff blown out of them after de-capitation and de-armament. By "ridiculous," I mean, a world where puppets are barely tolerated by humans. "Ridiculous" as in what the whole Henson family must have slapped knees over when they were creating Muppets but needed a break from the sweet to the sexually unsanitary.

So, if you want a plot for "The Happytime Murders," here it is, predictable and derivative and stupid: The cast of a 1980s children's television show is being offed, one by one. A puppet hires a puppet P.I., voiced by Bill Baretta with a Joisey accent despite the L.A. setting. Name of Phil Phillips – hey I used to work with a Phil Phillips, who graduated from Phillips University. But I digress. He is joined by his old partner on the police force, played by Melissa McCarthy in her signature brogues, armed with F bombs.

The other humans in the cast are Joel McHale and Elizabeth Banks. She's such a good comedienne, matched only by Maya Rudolph as Phil's secretary Bubbles, clad in peplums and plaids and butting in like Carol Burnett's steatopygiatic Mrs. Wiggins.

Todd Berger's screenplay includes very little that can be quoted, unless you count the homage to Sharon Stone and the decorating note regarding the drapes matching the carpet. Brian Henson's direction perfectly marries fun and funk, hilarity and vulgarity. And stay for the credits, under which you get a glimpse of what it takes to film puppets in porn, that is, on the beat. Just make sure, before you go, that you're in the right mood; otherwise, you might think "The Happytime Murders" is just gross.


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