The idea of puppets doing shocking things is not new in the entertainment industry; before ‘The Happytime Murders’, there were ‘Avenue Q’, ‘Team America: World Police’, and ‘Meet the Feebles’ have all surprised, offended, and tickled the funny bones of audiences looking for some raunchy puppet entertainment. The thing is, ‘The Happytime Murders’ was brought to you by Brian Henson, who has stepped into his late father, Jim Henson’s shoes with films like ‘Muppet Treasure Island’ and ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’. Now, he has strayed away from the sweetness that is ‘The Muppets’ into a gritty, offensive, and socially relevant world of ‘The Happytime Murders’.
Taking place in a world where puppets and humans co-exist, ‘The Happytime Murders’ introduces us to Private eye puppet detective, Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta), who has seen better days; he is stuck in a world where puppets are treated as second-class citizens, as well as being a disgraced former cop, after a falling-out with his former partner Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) caused him to be banned from the force. Not only does ‘The Happytime Murders’ take inspiration from Netflix’s ‘Bright’, its main premise is taken from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, where not only wacky characters share their world with humans, but said character and human has to solve a mystery surrounding murder.
Unlike ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, it is not just one murder, but a series of comical killings surrounding the cast of a 90’s sitcom called ‘The Happytime Gang’, which starred puppets, and only one human. The show is also scheduled for a revival, yet the cast has gone their separate ways; sports coach Lyle (Kevin Clash) is now a drug kingpin who specializes in dealing literal sugar-coated products (To puppets, sugar is basically a drug); Mr. Bumblypants (Also Clash) is addicted to porn and frequently visits a puppet porn shop; Goofer (Drew Massey), who was the show’s plumber, is a homeless sugar addict; while both twins Ezra and Cara (Ted Michaels and Colleen Smith) are both married.
What forces Phillips to team up with Edwards is due to his brother, Larry Shenanigans Phillips (Victor Yerrid), who becomes a victim. What follows is your usual buddy cop murder-mystery surrounding who did it. Joining the cast is Elizabeth Banks as Phillips’ former girlfriend, Jenny, who now works as a stripper, Joel McHale as the FBI agent determined to keep Phillips and Edwards at bay, Maya Rudolph as Bubbles, who is Phillips’ secretary, Leslie David Baker as Lieutenant Banning, and Dorien Davies as a puppet named Sandra, who asks Phillips to investigate the case.
If raunchy puppet humor is your thing, might I suggest ‘Team America: World Police’, or ‘Meet the Feebles’; they are much more shocking and downright hilarious when compared to this movie!