In a world where people and puppets co-exist, the puppets are very much second class citizens. But when the cast of 90's TV show "The Happytime Gang" start turning up dead, both the FBI and the police make the case a high priority. Their prime suspect is puppet Private Detective Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta), an ex-cop who's brother was on the show. If Phil is going to catch the killer and clear his name, he'll have to work with his estranged ex-partner, LAPD Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy). Get ready to see the darker side of show business...and puppets!
From Brian Henson, son of the legendary Jim Henson comes a very different kind of puppet movie. If you have seen the red band trailers, you know exactly what you're in for. Henson has clearly taken inspiration - or at least some style tips - from classic film noir/detective stories and buddy cop movies, and then put his own unique spin on things. The Happytime Murders is like a cross between Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Team America: World Police, but with puppets...and a bit of Seth MacFarlane's "Ted" thrown in for good measure.
Henson's colourful creation is unlikely to win any awards, and will no doubt receive a lot of criticism for being crude and disgusting. But to me that's where the fun is. This isn't one of those movies that's supposed to make you think or challenge your world view. This is meant to be fun, and maybe a little nostalgic. Much like Team America did with marionettes, Henson has taken something from our childhood and torn off the clean-cut, child proof shell. And the result is side-splitting. Yes, the story is a little generic, but I laughed my arse off from start to finish!
If there's one thing Henson and his crew do deserve credit for, it's the world they have created. Clearly a lot of work has gone into bringing it to life! Visual Effects Supervisor Sam Nicholson described the movie as "some of the most complex work that we've ever done". Keep watching when the credits role to see some of their incredible work. The puppets - of which there are 125 - all look perfect and it's easy to believe in this world where they co-exist with humans. Their interactions with said humans are spot on. All of the human cast do well opposite their fuzzy colleagues, but Melissa McCarthy is the standout. Be it opposite Baretta's Phillips or a pair of "rotten cotton" hookers, McCarthy is having a lot of fun with this role, and her larger (and louder) than life performance fits beautifully.
If you're looking for a fun movie, something that doesn't require you to think and will just make you laugh, you can't go far wrong with The Happytime Murders. Yes I know that sounds like an odd thing to say about a movie with "Murders" in the title, but it's true. Prepare to see puppets in a way you never imagined, just make sure the kids aren't around first...Elmo too!
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