Movie Reviews: The Happy Time Murders




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     Black Bear Pictures (1hr. 31 min)
     Two LA detectives reunite to catch the murderer of famous puppets from a popular TV show.
     Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Bill Barretta, Dorien Davies, Leslie David Baker, Joel McHale
Bottom Line:

Khaleel Herbert

LAPD officer turned private-eye detective Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) gets more than he bargained for when takes Sandra White’s (Dorien Davies) case. In a world where puppets and humans live amongst each other, puppets from the famous ‘90s sitcom, The Happytime Gang, get slaughtered one by one.

The crime begins when Phil goes to a local porn shop to get clues for Sandra’s case. He runs into Bumblypants (Kevin Clash), who only wants a carrot dildo and some porn DVDs. When Phil goes to the back of the store to collect files for evidence, Bumblypants, the owner, and a squid and a cow getting freaky in the back (don’t ask) are killed. Puppet fuzz is everywhere.

The LAPD get involved, reuniting Phil with his old partner, Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy). They squabble over a case they worked on together in the past that went horribly wrong. But Lieutenant Banning (Leslie David Baker) wants them to work together to crack. Phil and Edwards go on crazy misadventures to bring the puppet murderer to justice.

Try imagining “The Happytime Murders” as a classic Humphrey Bogart detective flick mixed with the comic stylings of “Saturday Night Live” and the sexuality of “Fifty Shades of Grey” in a Muppet-like world. That’s pretty difficult to explain and even weirder to watch. Although there’s a solid story, it’s weird to see puppets cuss, do drugs and have sex like real people. It’s like you’re sucked into a “Twilight Zone” state where you almost forget these characters are puppets, but you know they’re not human, like the sex scene with Phil and Sandra in his office.

McCarthy taps into her Diana and Mullins tough-girl vibes from “The Heat” and “Identity Thief,” but the puppets steal the show. They just do. McCarthy does get wild when she snorts some candy cocaine and has a few one-liners here and there.   

Maybe “The Happytime Murders” is also one big spoof of puppet shows and movies we grew up watching. Brian Henson, who has directed “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” “Muppet Treasure Island” and a few episodes of “Muppets Tonight,” has apparently worked with puppets before. But this film truly lives up to its slogan, “No Sesame. All Street.”

“The Happytime Murders” is not for everyone (and definitely not for children). You need a dirty mind and/or a fetish for puppet sex to truly enjoy this film.

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