Review: 'Happytime Murders' is all fluff, few laughs

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 8/31/18

“The Happytime Murders” was one of the most crass and far-fetched movies I’ve seen in a long time; however, it wasn’t entirely terrible. Allow me to explain.

This film, for those …

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Review: 'Happytime Murders' is all fluff, few laughs

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“The Happytime Murders” was one of the most crass and far-fetched movies I’ve seen in a long time; however, it wasn’t entirely terrible. Allow me to explain.

This film, for those unaware, stars not only live-action celebrities, but also puppets, in a film that at first glance appears not unlike “The Muppets” or “Sesame Street.” Utilizing the tagline of “No Sesame, All Street,” this film was sued by the Sesame Workshop, though the lawsuit was dismissed. While the characters look soft and lovable, just like our childhood puppet friends, their actions were anything but child friendly.

Given a hard R-rating, anyone could tell from the promotional trailers that this film was going to be raunchy. It was intended to be a crime comedy similar to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” but some of the lines in “Happytime Murders” would probably make Roger Rabbit blush.

The film stars Bill Barretta as private investigator Phil Philips, a hardened puppet who is disliked by local police, as he was fired from the police force following a botched hostage situation. From that point on, humans believed puppets couldn’t be cops.

In this film, puppets live alongside humans, although the puppets are treated as second-class citizens by the humans. Melissa McCarthy stars as Detective Connie Edwards, Philips’s former partner.

The plot revolves around a series of puppet murders centered around a popular children’s show known as the “Happytime Gang.” A pattern emerges where Philips and Edwards deduce a serial killer is targeting all members of the TV show for unknown reasons. As Philips is the only witness to nearly all of the murders and the only one left alive, he is soon viewed as a suspect.

Rotten Tomatoes is ripping this film apart, giving it a Freshness Score of 22 percent. Ironically, the audience seems to like it better and has given it a score of 52 percent. I’d say I’m there with the audience. It’s not a terrible movie. Granted, this film would have been much funnier had I been surrounded by my buddies, but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. At the very least, it was entertaining. Since many of the stars were puppets, the possibilities were endless on ways to involve them as characters. Some puppets were shot, others were snorting sugar like drugs and some were even ripped apart by tiny dogs. The puppet tropes ran rampant, but it wasn’t tiresome.

Writing for this film was OK. I wasn’t wowed by any of the lines and I doubt I’ll be quoting much from this film, but the writing wasn’t so bad that it lost my attention. I wanted to see “whodunit” by the film’s end, and the human interactions were actually fairly funny, seeing as these actors had to interact with puppets as if they were real people the entire film. Kudos to McCarthy for maintaining a rapport with Philips’s puppet throughout.

The issue with “Happytime Murders” is how much this film was trying to be funny like the film “Team America: World Police” made by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The subject material just wasn’t the same, and the jokes weren’t as clever.

This movie was a comedy, but it didn’t have me rolling on the floor laughing. There were a few parts that elicited some serious laughs from me, but they were short lived. As previously recommended for other movies, I believe “The Happytime Murders” should be a film everyone sees via Redbox, as opposed to paying $10 to see it at the theater. Some of the humor in this film was fairly unexpected, but that’s what made it at times hysterical. There are a few parts where the audience will be truly taken aback at the level of ridiculousness, and upon this realization, will begin to laugh. 

I’d recommend watching  “Happytime Murders” with some friends, as the jokes are funnier with a group.

“The Happytime Murders” is rated R for strong crude and sexual content and language throughout, and some material related to illegal drugs. I give it 2 out of 5 stars. 

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