Good God, this film sucks.
Oh, sorry, I should probably give more build-up to that.
The Happytime Murders is the latest film from Brian Henson, the Son of Muppets creator, Jim Henson, and poor Jim is probably not only rolling in his grave, but doing a choreographed dance routine.
In a world where puppets and humans live side-by-side and puppets are treated with universal contempt by humans, jaded ex-cop turned puppet private eye Phil Phillips is pulled into a murder mystery when puppets start being murdered in L.A. He’s forced to co-exist with his former partner, who caused him to lose his job.
As stated at the start of this review, this movie sucks. There’s no getting around this. It’s a cinematic travesty.
I first learned of this film earlier in the year, and was intrigued by the idea of an adult puppet movie, after all, I have previously been part of a musical called Avenue Q, which got to the idea roughly 15 years before, not only that but it is actually funny, smart and at times, emotional. The Happytime Murders is none of these things.
The best sign of a good comedy is how many times it makes you laugh, and Happytime shows itself to be a misnomer as it didn’t make me happy, in fact it didn’t make me laugh. Once. For a comedy movie that lasts an hour and a half that’s the most damning indictment of all.
This movie does not have ‘characters’ so to speak, it has stock archetypes. Imagine a stereotypical, grizzled private eye, and that’s exactly how the lead character is. Constantly smoking? Check. Exposition-laden grizzled narration? Check. It’s like this movie had a checklist of cliches that it wanted to complete within it’s running time, if that’s its intention, it succeeds at that at least.
The human lead is Melissa McCarthy, who is very much a Marmite character, you love her or hate her, personally I have no strong opinion either way, I enjoyed her in Bridesmaids but recently she seems to becoming the female Adam Sandler, churning out lazy comedy after lazy comedy with little to no development. Here however, she’s the closest thing to watchable the movie has. Like Sandler, she has an undeniable chemistry, she just never knows how to apply it in good movies, and this is no different, like everyone else, she has a shallow stock character, but her delivery of the ham-fisted dialogue at least breathes some life into it that is lost when coming from a puppet.
The most damning evidence I can present to this film’s awfulness is the fact that I watched it in a cinema that was sparsely populated, and nobody laughed throughout the entire movie, and a comedy that makes no one laugh is like a chocolate teapot, not any use for what it’s made for and no-one would thank you for giving it to them.
In short, an adult puppet comedy is a good concept, it’s all in the execution. Avenue Q, which as I said is similar in concept, but works due to it being actually funny and clever. The only execution that would work for The Happytime Murders is the guillotine.