Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Happytime Murders review

Down these mean streets, this blogger and amateur movie critic must go who is neither mean but is a glutton for punishment. Because he believes that his handful of readers deserve to hear his film criticism. Yesterday, I had a few bucks in my pocket and I wandered  into my local cineplex. I had seen the preview to The Happytime Murders, a few months back. It featured Melissa McCarthy playing another slob and puppets. Yeah, you heard that right. Puppets. The concept of puppets in a R rated comedy piqued my interest the way a Playboy model and a cheeseburger makes Trump horny. You see I like originality even if it gets me into trouble. And trouble is my middle name. Okay, that's not my middle name. And I apologize to Raymond Chandler for this paragraph.

The Happytime Murders takes place in an alternative universe where puppets and humans co-exist. Puppets generally are discriminated against. Phil Phillips (Bill Barettta) is a puppet and a private eye. Before that he was a cop. Thrown off the force because he wouldn't shoot another puppet. He gets a client, Sandra White (Dorien Davies).   She was  a curvy red head puppet whose fuzzy curves would make your eyes go cross-eyed. Her ping pong ball eyes would signal to you  that a night with her would be memorable but you would pay for it the next morning.  Yeah, I would take her case for free if she let me... um, sorry about that. More apologies to Raymond Chandler. 

Back to the review. Anyway, she's being blackmailed. While investigating a lead, a cast member of a puppet-human sitcom called The Happytime Gang is killed. Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) is assigned to the case. She's the former partner of Phillips. He's added to case as a consultant.

Three great female comedians are in the cast. Melissa McCarthy. Maya Rudolph as Phillips secretary, Bubbles. And the lovely Elizabeth Banks as Jenny the human cast member of The Happytime Gang. And yeah this movie would qualify for passing the Bechdel Test of Radical Feminism which requires two women talking to each other and not about a man. Because we're dealing with ahem, puppets. I'm guessing none of these women are going to put The Happytime Murders on their resume. That's because this movie is terrible.

One crazy thing about this film is that Brian Henson of yes, The Henson Company is behind it. You know the guys behind Sesame Street and The Muppets. I'm guessing that one day, the guys at the company got stoned and wondered what it would be like if they filmed Kermit the Frog really having sex with Miss Piggy. Frankly, that does sound funny. Maybe Big Bird can do an X- rated scene with the Cookie Monster? Yeah, I'm sure Disney and PBS might have a thing to say about that. However, somebody thought that puppet sex, puppet porn and puppet "drug" abuse was funny.

That's the problem with this movie. The premise of real characters from the Muppets having explicit sex is subversive and funny because it's relatable. There are very few jokes about what's happening in society now, and nothing that a human can relate to. A generic puppet having an orgasm is not funny because people can't relate to it. A generic puppet having his head blown off in an explosion of feathers doesn't make one laugh. If I was drunk, I might have laughed.   And one shouldn't get drunk to see a comedy so the jokes work better. There are reasons in comedy screenplays you may want to have more than one writer. Because jokes are a subjective and writers can bounce things off each other to see what jokes work. This screenplay had one writer who I won't name because I'm guessing he's going to deny he had to do with this. The Happytime Murders relates to nothing but a nod to private detective movies and even that genre was parodied better in Deadmen Don't Wear Plaid (1982). This movie might have done better if it really went all NC-17 but alas it chickens out by avoiding some easy laughs with explicit adult puppet material.  It's  left with puppets dropping the F- bomb.

Speaking of puppets dropping the F-bomb. That maybe the only redeeming quality of this movie. You see The Happtime Murders was partly financed by the H Brothers, a Chinese company. Hey the Chinese may censor images of Winnie the Pooh for President Jinping but puppets dropping the F-bomb and having sex is okay. Freedom, baby. God bless America.

The Happytime Murders trashes one of my favorite movie genres, the private detective story. It's unfunny. And only recommended if you have a thing for puppet sex. The grade is D.

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