The Happytime Murders – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title card for the Happytime Murders
100% (3)

As long as you like your humor simple, cheap, and dirty, you are certain to get a kick out of The Happytime Murders.


Director(s) Brian Henson
Screenplay By Todd Berger, Dee Austin Robertson
Date Released 8/23/2018
Genre(s) Comedy, Action, Neo-Noir
Good If You Like Dirty Jokes

Crass Jokes

Cheap Jokes

Gross-Out Humor

Puppets Talking Dirty

Jokes About Melissa McCarthy Looking Manish

Noir Styled Stories

Actors Introduced
Phil Bill Barretta
Sandra Dorien Davies
Larry Victor Yerrid
Bumblypants Kevin Clash
Connie Melissa McCarthy
Jenny Elizabeth Banks

Summary

It has been 20 years since Phil Philips was kicked off the force. Reason being – he wouldn’t kill a puppet. So, after that, he ended up a private investigator. A tough job for a puppet since they are heavily discriminated against and there are few policies which provide them any sort of protection. Luckily, the prejudice of LA doesn’t keep Phil from working and his first case is helping Sandra deal with someone trying to blackmail her. You see, Sandra is a sexual puppet. Something she doesn’t necessarily want out there so she is hoping Phil can help find the person sending her ransom notes. Unfortunately for Sandra, Phil finds himself distracted.

It begins with Phil’s old friend, through his brother Larry, Mr. Bumblypants being murdered, and then more members of the Happytown gang. A show which seemed revolutionary, at the time, for it was one of the first puppet majority shows out there. But, don’t worry, this movie doesn’t dive too deep into discrimination. It’s mostly about the relationship between Phil, his ex-partner Connie Edwards, and Phil trying to solve the murders. All the while trying to not be seduced by Sandra and not be the scapegoat for the case. Since Phil finds himself at the scene of nearly everyone’s murder

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. How do puppets grow up and how are they born?
  2. If they are just made of fluff, how does their internal system work? For example, how did Connie get a puppet liver if, when we see puppets killed and ripped to shreds, there is only cotton?
  3. Did Connie’s whole issue with Phil deal with the fact he didn’t shoot and/or he got her a puppet liver?

Criticism

Connie Isn’t Written To McCarthy’s Strengths

Connie at a poker table being forced to snort sugar.

Generally speaking, I love Melissa McCarthy in most of the things she does. Tammy being one of the few exceptions. In this film, however, McCarthy is done a great disservice. First and foremost, there is no depth to Connie. She isn’t someone with any struggle beyond having a sugar addiction thanks to the puppet liver she has. Which gives her some simple and eye-roll inducing issue of feeling she is neither human nor puppet. Something that isn’t developed at all so it seems like some feign attempt at trying to make it where the movie isn’t just about joking about how “manly” Connie is.

Then, talking about jokes, rarely does McCarthy deliver. None of the jokes play up on McCarthy’s strengths of coming off as the average woman who is not to be f***ed with. For everyone pretty much screws with her and gets away with it. Well, outside of her beating the hell out of a dog puppet who likes to call other puppet b****es. That is perhaps the sole highlight of a rather forgettable performance.

There Is A Desire To See and Understand Puppet Life

With rules against puppets becoming cops, because of Phil, and seeing puppets beat up in public, there is this desire to know more about puppet life. How far does the discrimination go, what laws are or aren’t in place to protect puppets? When it comes to puppet and human relationships, how do those work? This is alongside wondering what happened to all the members of the Happytime show? How did they go from being popular on TV to criminals, junkies, and has-beens? For some it is noted addiction is the reason, but their downfalls seem way too large to fully make sense.

A puppet and a woman walking across the street together.

But, in general, the main issue is that, despite the trailer selling you on this idea we are going to get a sense of culture, that is largely absent. Leaving us with a world that feels rather two dimensional. Matching how simple the character are written.

On The Fence

The Puppet Gimmick

When it begins, you’ll get a real kick out of hearing puppets of all kinds say and do dirty things. Of the 27, or so, times I laughed, it was pretty much because of the puppets. Problem is, most of the jokes require a certain immaturity to find them funny. For it is pretty much gross-out humor, mixed with some mild shock value. Be it an octopus milking a cow puppet as some kind of porn, Sandra having a Basic Instinct moment, or the puppet orgasm from the trailer.

Yet, after a certain point, you get used to the madness and it isn’t funny anymore. And this isn’t the kind of movie that builds joke to joke. Pretty much the laugh remains on the same level until you eventually are just silent and watching this for the story.

The Story

Larry's funeral, with Phil in attendance among many others.

As noted with the Connie criticism, there isn’t much in the way of depth to characters in The Happytime Murders. It is noted Phil misses Connie, and she missed him, that he still loves his ex Jenny, and he has a complicated relationship with his brother, Larry. However, there isn’t anything to stir you up to the point of tears. Everything is just good enough to be logical. Brother gets killed, and nearly everyone Phil was close to, so of course he takes this investigation seriously. Since his former partner is still a cop, it only makes sense that this case would pair them together and they would reconcile. Much less, being that Phil speaks to us in a noir-styled way, that certain people wouldn’t be what they seem.

It’s good enough to get you through the movie but it really does make the puppet gimmick the sole thing which is noteworthy about this movie.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

While you’ll get a kick out of The Happytime Murders it ultimately won’t be something you remember as one of the best comedies you ever saw. It relies heavy on the comedy of puppets which look like they could exist around the corner from Sesame Street behaving badly like a crutch. An old, wrapped up with duct tape crutch, that works just good enough to get you through the film. Add in, despite all the murders that Phil deals with, and Connie seemingly unhappy with life, this has no emotional depth, and you get why this is being labeled as divisive. This is a one and done film and either you’ll find it hilarious or stupid. It really will all depend on your sense of humor.


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About Amari Sali 3353 Articles
New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

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